She was born in the Bronx as Belcalis Almanzar and is Dominican and Trinidadian.
She is the first female rapper, since Lauryn Hill in 1998, to reach the number 1 spot on Billboard’s top 100 chart.
She was a stripper who first came to fame through her social media presence, especially her “A Hoe Never Gets Cold” video.
In 2015, she secured a spot on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: New York” during season 6.
She is – drumroll please – Cardi B.
If you have not listened to Cardi B’s new album that she dropped on Friday, April 6th, then you should definitely get on that. Her album “Invasion of Privacy” consists of 13 songs including 6 singles and 7 collaborations that feature Migos, Chance the Rapper, Bad Bunny and J Balvin, Kehlani (honestly blessed), 21 savage, YG, and SZA.
“Invasion of Privacy” is getting praise from many respected and loved artists such as 2 Chainz, Erykah Badu, 50 Cent, Rihanna, Janelle Monaé, and Logic. This album is beautifully and powerfully crafted, and is truly an invasion of privacy as Cardi seems to be holding nothing back. Her voice is harmonized through her pain, strength, humor, anger, bravery, and truth. Her voice is a weapon; her voice is a healer; her voice is her story, her outlet, and her truth.
Her song “Get up 10” sets the scene. Here she raps with fire and force about how she “went from rags to riches” and tells us about her life before she started making 6 figures. The transition within the song happens at minute 1:44 as it explodes into a take-no-prisoner, “If a girl have beef with me, she gon’ have beef with me forever” type of attitude. “Get up 10” displays Cardi’s wit and play on words with her line “I came here to ball, is you nuts?” and shows her unapologetic presence through the line, “Whole life been through some f***ed up shit/They say I’m too that, oh, I’m too this/When you seen what I’ve seen, you end up like this.”
Kehlani helped me understand why Invasion of Privacy left my heart feeling heavy after some songs and specific lines. In a Hot 97 radio show about one year ago, Kehlani talks about Cardi B and why her presence and voice are so important and powerful.
“What I admire about you [Cardi B] so much is that you created everything yourself. Yeah, nobody can take any of that away from you because nobody can sell anybody nothing who literally did everything they ever said they wanted to do with all the odds against them. You know what I mean, like never stop ever.“
Some of Cardi’s words and verses just leave me sitting here thinking “Wow, she really did that.” I have so much respect for her because of the determination and strength that she continued to have throughout her journey to get where she is now. After watching an enormous amount of interviews with Cardi B and listening to “Invasion of Privacy,” I have been thinking a lot about the politics of respectability and how exclusive and oppressive it really is because of the structural racism that is too prevalent and forceful within our society. Cardi B is brilliant exactly for who she is and how she portrays herself and no one should attack her for that.
Through “Invasion of Privacy,” we see Cardi and her many different sides. We see the pan-Latin-unifier Cardi through “I Like It” featuring Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican Latin trap and reggaeton singer, and J Balvin, a Colombian reggaeton singer. Then there is I-know-I’m-the-shit-try-and-stop-me-I-dare-you Cardi through “Drip” featuring Migos, “Bickenhead,” “I Do” featuring SZA, “Money Bag,” and “She Bad” which features YG. Next up is the I’m-in-my-feels-leave-me-alone-but-you-better-be-listening Cardi with her song “Be Careful,” “Ring” featuring Kehlani, and “Thru Your Phone”.
Her wit emerges through lines such as “Leave his texts on read, leave his balls on blue” and her vulnerability and pain can be seen, heard, and felt through lines such as:
“I said I never had a problem showin’ y’all the real me
Hair when it’s fucked up, crib when it’s filthy
Way-before-the-deal me, strip-to-pay-the-bills me
‘Fore I fixed my teeth, man, those comments used to kill me
But never did I change, never been ashamed
Never did I switch, story stayed the same
I did this on my own, I made this a lane”
The background beat/tune to Cardi B’s song “Be Careful” reminds me of the Wii theme song with it’s light, upbeat, staccato melody. This is so interesting to me because the lyrics to this song are not light and upbeat. I feel heartbreak and longing in her words along with strength and resistance in her tone. Cardi, in this song, says that she put her heart on the line and gave everything she had, but got nothing in return. In an interview with Beats, Cardi says:
“When I hear this song, I be really crying. It really means so much. It gets me angry, it
gets me sad and I know that women are going to be able to relate, somebody who
doesn’t like me is going to relate, I know your mom is going to be able to relate”
This song isn’t just for Cardi. It’s for those whose capacity to love is so great that it hurts. Sometimes the love you have to give is not always returned but rather is a weapon that can be used against you. A few lines in the song that embody this idea is:
“You even got me trippin’, you got me lookin’ in the mirror different
Think I’m flawed because you inconsistent
Between a rock and a hard place, the mud and the dirt
It’s gon’ hurt me to hate you, but lovin’ you’s worse”
Love is a powerful force that consumes the heart, body, mind, and soul. It is a force that taints reality in such a way that can be both beautiful and scary. Cardi’s song “Be Careful” is not a threat, but rather a warning because she will love and she will be vulnerable. She is telling her partner that they need to be careful. If Cardi’s partner isn’t careful, she will get hurt and make sure that the whole world knows what you did.
Cardi B is not new to the world of music. We all may think that she came out of no where, but it has taken her years to get to where she is now. In an interview with Beats, Cardi stated:
“Yeah just flowing better, learning better. It’s just like I feel myself getting better. I also
needed a little bit of help mm-hmm so I got my ferberizing. Yeah I needed a little bit of help from breaking out of my box. Like I feel like my music was very trappy and it’s really almost like drill because it’s just like I be feeling will never get out of that style. I’m so stuck on rapping and I need a break and I need to learn how to flow a little bit easier and cleaner and I don’t feel like I perfected it yet but I feel like I’m getting better and better”.
I am so excited to see what Cardi B has coming up next and you should be too.