‘Issa snack’: Cardi B’s debut for the clubs
After being let go from a job at a small supermarket, Cardi B turned to stripping at the young age of 19, an occupation that would seem invaluable to her identity as an artist and the overall sound of her debut album, “Invasion of Privacy.”
Fresh off the thunderous baller anthem “Bodak Yellow” and the echoing “Bartier Cardi” with 21 Savage, audiences became ensnared in the persona of Cardi B. A bawdy, brash character, she is complete with memorable colloquialisms (“okurrr”) and a take-no-prisoners attitude that she refined during her tenure on the reality program “Love and Hip-Hop: New York.”
People clearly wanted a new female in the rap game, with “Bodak Yellow” being certified five-time platinum and “Bartier” raking in platinum. The relative silence of reigning queen Nicki Minaj, whose last album was 2014’s “The Pinkprint,” created something of a vacuum for Cardi B to move and breathe. While it is by no means wise to insinuate that there can only be one, the fan-created rivalry between Cardi B and Minaj would seem to stem from a genuine curiosity: can Roman be toppled?
This question wasn’t helped by the debate of who had the better verse on Migos’ “Motorsport,” where the two commanded more attention than the lead artists (I rest my case: Minaj genuinely had more time, so a comparison isn’t fair).
Where Cardi B and the Minaj playbooks differ is in their sensibilities. Cardi B doesn’t seem overly concerned with credibility, a notion that gave Minaj pause and led in part to the Eminem feature on her debut. Cardi B’s youthful features list would indicate that the hip-hop genre doesn’t much care about its older members, a fact that has now been well-documented. Cardi B also seems content with her club approach, versus the radio-ready pop Minaj pedaled early. The question is, does it work?
For starters, the album is simply packed with beats that “slap,” as the kids say. The aforementioned Migos, who is featured on the ice-obsessed “Drip,” would seem to have established the sound standard for all others to follow. There’s more bass here than you can shake a spring break rager at, and enough triplet high-hats to make even Future jealous. Cardi B finds greatness with the Latin vibe of “I Like That” featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin and self-empowerment bordering on narcissism with the SZA-assisted “I Do.” We even get a “Bodak Yellow” part two, titled “Money Bag,” in which Cardi B gives Instagram models and sororities a caption for the ages: “I say, ‘Bae, issa snack’ / he say, ‘issa entrée.’”
What “Invasion of Privacy” manages to do well is be undeniably fun. It’s not difficult to reason why Cardi B’s A&R team wanted an early summer release; these songs are evocative of late night beach parties and sweltering Miami establishments. It’s hard to tell if any tracks will stand out, though the opener, “Get Up 10,” won’t gain any traction.
Rap albums often have underwhelming first tracks, usually with titles such as “Intro,” an apparent effort to emulate Microsoft PowerPoint. While not suffering such a bland label, “Get Up 10” is that moment when the party queen takes a step back and goes for realness. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, but it doesn’t feel like Cardi B. She shines when she’s bragging about her relations with someone else’s man, or that her aptitude for sexual intercourse is so staggering that she hollered out her “own name” (RIP Offset).
Given how early it is in Cardi B’s career at the young age of 25, she has a lot of development ahead. With the right producers and artists behind her, Cardi B has the potential to dig deeper into her experiences and struggles, while still saving tracks on her album for the club bangers. Will she do this? Maybe. Successful artists inevitably become more personal after they have a fan base that doesn’t need them be as edgy or provocative, like Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga. One thing is for certain – we’ll never get a Cardi B acoustic set. At least I hope not.