‘Invasion of Privacy’ Validates Cardi B’s Status as the World’s Hottest Female Rapper (REVIEW)
“My little 15 minutes lasted long as hell, huh?”
When “Bodak Yellow” exploded last summer and Cardi B became the latest in a long line of bombastic New York City female emcees to commandeer the national consciousness—and the first woman rapper since Lauryn Hill to top the Billboard Hot 100—there was still sufficient one-hit wonder potential.
The thick-accented, idiosyncratic and outspoken social media star-turned VH1 Love And Hip-Hop star-turned Atlantic Records signee felt a little too much like a caricature to be sustainable. She’d be little more than a trivia question someday.
Right? Wrong. So, so wrong.
Cardi B isn’t going anywhere and now she has an album to further validate her cred—the feverishly anticipated LP Invasion Of Privacy is a searing and impressive debut, and solidifies the artist born Belcalis Almanzar as the bar-none hottest female rapper on Earth in 2018 (your move, Nicki Minaj).
Clocking in at 48 minutes across 13 songs, never does Invasion lag or valley, bolstered by a handful of shrewd collaborations with similarly ascendant artists: Chance The Rapper, SZA, Kehlani, 21 Savage, and of course, Migos (Cardi and rapper Offset became engaged in October).
As anticipated, Privacy is aggressive, exceedingly vulgar and laden with tittering trap beats, but there’s more humanity to the project than one might have guessed considering Cardi’s bullying “bloody shoes” track record. The latest single “Be Careful” leaves Cardi in an unfamiliarly vulnerable state as she seems to address her fiance Offset directly on rumors of cheating: “You even got me trippin' / you got me lookin' in the mirror different / Thinkin' I'm flawed because you inconsistent.” Ironically, Lauryn Hill has a co-writer tag on this track, because the “Care for me, care for me” hook is akin to her “Ex-Factor” jam from The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.
Sure, Invasion portrays Cardi B as the hardcore rap goddess she’s quickly become—the powerpack “Money Bag” follows the bravado-soaked “Bodak” blueprint and is destined for Hot 97 radio remixing (as is most of the album). But there’s plenty of Cardi, the person, here, too.
The autobiographical and very strong album opener “Get Up 10,” as in “I get knocked down 9, I get up 10,” hits on Cardi’s hustle and past work as a stripper to fund her schooling. She name-dropping Sue’s, a gentlemen’s club in Mount Vernon, N.Y.—where I’m sure some of Privacy's songs are already being played. She goes on to say, in so many words, that her authenticity has defined her as an artist an led her to fame, but the pressure of such success can be crushing “when you gotta make sure that everybody straight.”
Better still, she gives love to her Latina roots with “I Like It,” a bright collab with reggaeton stars J. Balvin and Bad Bunny set to a sample of boogaloo icon Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 hit “I Like It Like That.” This bumping revamp will hit Latin dancefloors tonight, count on it.
A little more on the collaborations: the R&B ingenue Kehlani shines with a crystalline hook on “Ring,” which drips with crossover potential, and the breezier cut “Best Life” with Chance The Rapper could’ve fit well on Chance’s Coloring Book mixtape. SZA’s hook on “I Do” is passable but not particularly memorable—a missed opportunity at first blush, but it may be a slow burner.
But all in all, Invasion Of Privacy is a conclusive win for the hip-hop newcomer. There’s replayability and hit potential all over it—kudos to the massive production team including lauded mixtape shepherd 30 Roc (Kendrick Lamar, Rae Sremmurd) and pop guru Benny Blanco (Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars)—and it advances her as an artist who is more than her Louboutins and revealing outfits.
Someday, when the trap trend fades away and we look back on its defining projects, Cardi B’s first full-length dive will surely appear on the list.