Cardi B pops off in debut album ‘Invasion of Privacy’

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It’s common knowledge that, throughout the last year, Cardi B established herself as a powerhouse rapper. She burst onto the scene with “Bodak Yellow” and has shattered records with her releases ever since. In her Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B drops an undeniably strong debut album, one indisputably charged with the infectious spirit of the female rapper.

Cardi B’s new album is straight fire, but there’s something unshakably formulaic about it. Invasion of Privacy takes the rawness of Cardi B’s earlier style and reshapes it into a 13-track compendium of bangers. Therefore, instead of a distinctly Cardi B sound, the album offers up tracks that guarantee market success. There’s “Drip” — a trap-heavy track about being exorbitantly wealthy featuring Migos, there’s “I Like It” — a song that greatly relies on a Latin music sample, and “I Do,” which empowers with a powerful SZA chorus.

It’s a crowd-pleasing formula, but one that takes away from the Cardi B the world was introduced to through her first two mixtapes. Cardi B and her producers follow this “top chart formula” to a T. To their credit, they succeeded — the album saturates the Billboard top charts but has ultimately taken away from some of Cardi B’s signature style.

Nevertheless, the tracks maintain the powerful Cardi B aura that keeps fans coming back. From resurfacing feuds with other celebrities to rapping about her days as a stripper, Cardi B doesn’t just rehash old beef — she gives her listeners an exposé of her life. Her first track in the album, “Get Up 10,” gives a a driving force to Invasion of Privacy. She talks about her fame, but her narrative’s a humble one. She acknowledges her past — growing up in the Bronx, stripping, the people who never believed in her — with incomparable honesty. She never hides the things that made her Cardi B — she celebrates them, preserving every aspect in her lyrics.

It’s this truthfulness Cardi B brings to her tracks that keeps people watching her career. It’s the eccentricity she brought to her time on “Love & Hip Hop” combined with the humor she brought to her Vines. In “Bickenhead,” she repeats the phrase “pop that pussy,” over and over as she raps over “okurs” — an “OK” with tongue roll — and images of the crazy wealth that surrounds her, all in the pursuit of empowering her listeners.

In an interview with VladTV, Cardi B once said of the recent activist movements that, “all these women these days, they want to protest, they want to talk about how they are feminists … and how they support each other, but low-key, they be judging and I don’t get it.” What makes Cardi B such a unique female figure in the rap game is that she doesn’t just talk about making it as a female in a male-dominated arena; she shows what it looks like to be a woman who deserves the clout she has — and how to stay at the top of the game.

Ultimately, this album is a capsule of the many things that have made Cardi B great. This full-length album, long-anticipated ever since the massive success of her chart-topping singles, definitely delivered. Although the structure and execution of the album are trite, it’s ultimately saved by its central force: Cardi B herself. It’s her consistently honest and fresh rhymes that keep her audience always wanting more. As she pushes the boundaries of what is possible for the rap world, Cardi B paves the way for a new era of hip-hop.

Annalise Kamegawa covers music. Contact her at [email protected].