I love me some wimmin rappers and I’ve long wished there were more of them hitting it big — like there were back in the day — so I’m thrilled to watch Cardi B turn into a huge, huge star. It’s all happening for the 25-year-old right now, and I mean “right now” literally: Invasion of Privacy, her first major label album was released yesterday; she’s performing on Saturday Night Live tonight; and on Monday, she’ll be the first-ever co-host for the Tonight Show, alongside Jimmy Fallon.
In case you don’t follow new music at all, Cardi B had a monster hit last summer with her single, “Bodak Yellow.” C’mon, you must have heard this blaring from cars if nowhere else!
“Bodak Yellow” went five-times platinum (so far) and made Cardi B the first solo female rapper to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since Lauryn Hill did it in 1998. A massive success like that is hard to live up, and there were plenty of people betting on Cardi B (government name: Belcalis Almanzar) being a one-hit wonder. Then it was like, “Okay, maybe she’ll be a few-hits wonder,” because another single, “Bartier Cardi“, got to No. 14 on Billboard’s main Hot 100 chart, and has since gone platinum. She’s also been featured on other artists’ Hot 100 hits, including G-Eazy’s “No Limits” (No. 4); on the Migos No. 6 charter, “MotorSport,” alongside Nicki Minaj; the remix of Bruno Mars’s “Finesse” (No. 3); and Ozuna‘s mostly Spanish “La Modelo” (No. 1 on the Latin Airplay chart; 52 on the Hot 100.)
At the beginning of this year, Billboard announced that Cardi B had become the first rapper to have her first three Hot 100 singles in the top 10 simultaneously. The only acts in any music category that had their first three singles in the top 10 at once were the Beatles in 1964 and Ashanti in 2002. Appropriately, Cardi got on Instagram to celebrate.
What a great way to start my Year.Thank you Lord .Only you and i know how much i pray to you.These last few weeks been too much for me but my Lord always find a way to uplift me .Thank you to my fans ,DJS ,Team for the support .Thanks to all the artist who featured me I️n thesee songs and thanks guys for showing my second single BARTIER CARDI some love 😍😍😍😍💕💕💕💪🏾💪🏾I love you
It was Instagram where Cardi first started sharing the uncensored, exuberant, 100% New Yawk, made-to-go-viral personality that took her from stripper, to social-media star, to reality-television star on the Love & Hip Hop franchise, to mixtape rapper, to No. 1 rapper.
Jesus Christ I’m so emotional, @offsetyrn I loveee you so much .Thank you for seeing the potential in me since you met me .For giving me advice molding me and loving me .Your such a amazing man to me your family ,friends ,kids and you are extremely talented.I can’t wait to spend FOREVAAAA with you .Lets make a lot shmoney and love together ❤️ ❤️
… and proved she could pull back on bleep-requiring language to appear on network television. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon was so charmed during Cardi’s December appearance — which went viral, of course — that Cardi wound up booking Monday’s history-making co-host gig.
Her performance of “Finesse” with Bruno Mars at her first Grammys this January was a highlight of the show.
Still, there was so much riding on her album, which was originally slated for last year. The unpromising “long-awaited” descriptor started being used, along with the nerve-wracking “highly anticipated.” Cardi felt a perfectionist’s pressure: “I have songs stashed up. I just don’t think they qualified for my album,” she tweeted. Missing the mark could undermine all her achievements in an intensely public way, as Cardi pointed out to Rolling Stone in a story published in October, the same month her album didn’t drop as expected:
“If you go broke and lose your career, it’s bad – and everybody is talkin’ shit about it! At least if you lose your 9-to-5 you don’t got millions of people judging you and talking shit while you lost your job.”
But it’s looking like Cardi can let out a sigh of relief, because as I was writing this post, Billboard reported that Invasion of Privacy appears set to make its debut at No. 1. (If that happens, Cardi will be just the fifth female rap artist with a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, and the first since Nicki Minaj with Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded in 2012.) The album, already certified gold thanks to the sales of “Bodak Yellow,” has been called “personal and undeniable” in Rolling Stone’s four-star review. DJ Booth said Cardi actually “overachieved,” while the Washington Post declared, “Everything she says is music.” Variety ended its review by saying: “Funny, fierce, foul-mouthed and in-your-face, Invasion of Privacy is one of the most powerful debuts of this millennium.”
Meanwhile, in tweet after tweet, fans are calling it an album full of bops, without one skippable song, and quoting killer lines like “Now I’m a boss, I write my own name on the check/Pussy so good, I say my own name during sex” from the track “I Do.” In the same song, Cardi raps, “My little 15 minutes lasted long as hell, huh?” and I’m like:
At this year’s Grammys, Cardi had two nominations for “Bodak Yellow” but, shockingly, didn’t win either. And I have no idea why she wasn’t even nominated for Best New Artist, a category she went on to win for hip-hop at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in March. All I can say is that if she doesn’t sweep next year’s Grammys, the Recording Academy will lose whatever authority it still has. Remember how Recording Academy Neil Portnow said women have to “step up” if they want to win Grammys? Cardi B’s “bloody shoes” have stepped all over the music industry and I am here for it!
Go, Cardi, go!
UPDATED APRIL 8, 2018, TO ADD: Aw! Cardi confirmed her much-talked-about-but-not-officially-announced pregnancy on SNL.
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) April 8, 2018
UPDATED APRIL 9, 2018, TO ADD: There are links to several Cardi interviews sprinkled into this post, and there’s a new one from GQ that’s a must-read. This one describes one of her viral moments from VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York.:
“Cardi’s cocktail of comedic timing, histrionic flair, and extremely large breasts made her the program’s indisputable breakout star. All three ingredients are showcased in one of the best-loved clips from the series, in which Cardi, wearing a snug dress and earrings the size of hand grenades, screamingly informs a male acquaintance: ‘A GIRL HAVE BEEF WITH ME, SHE GONNA HAVE BEEF WITH ME…’ What makes Cardi good TV is that at this climactic moment, she turns away from the camera, simply so she can dramatically back around to the camera and, dropping her voice to a strange baby-growl, utter the final word, ‘…foreva.'”
See that — and Cardi’s other top television clips — right here: