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In less than a week on from its release, Cardi B’s debut album Invasion of Privacy has already reached record-breaking highs. While the project undeniably bangs, the work is much more than that; Cardi already had a strong foundation in pop culture, but the record was always going to make or break her lasting success. Thankfully, the artist delivered an album that not only solidifies her place in hip-hop, but also speaks directly to the tone of the times.

Cardi arrived in the midst of an era where women were tired of being muted. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp were as much about exposing the misogynistic ills of the entertainment industry as having the strength and courage to call out those ills by name and face. Abuse was no longer par for the course, and the notion of “you’ll never work in this town again” was dead in the water. As for Cardi, the former reality TV star went viral during the reunion episode of her season of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York, when she challenged co-star Peter Grunz for suggesting he’s financially supporting his paramours (“You know you not paying their rent,” she said with a grimace). Part of Cardi B’s televised allure was her brashness, which carried over to her major label debut single Bodak Yellow. Her Instagram videos – often featuring no makeup – were an equal balance of funny and honest, making the artist an accessible superhero. With Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B presents her take on message music.

The already wildly successful Bodak Yellow and Bartier Cardi (with 21 Savage) set the stage for what’s to come, a 13-track album where any song could get radio play or be a standalone single. The latest, Be Careful, is a relationship track, while the first two are more so aimed toward women. From threats to insults and back to threats again, there’s an underlying theme of “don’t fuck with me” in the most literal and figurative senses. Bickenhead and I Do (with SZA) share this sentiment, as Cardi shrugs off the haters and nonbelievers.

Some might misconstrue the songs’ overtones as being anti-girl power; on the contrary, both Cardi B and her critics’ points read similarly – questioning the desire for women to tear each other down. At a time where women should be unifying and supporting one another, Cardi B continuously echoes the sentiment that there’s enough love, money, and success for all of us.

Cardi, after all, is just out to enjoy her unorthodox success story. Songs like Best Life (with Chance the Rapper) paint a portrait of the rapper trying to live while the internet nurtures #CardiBIsSoProblematic trending topics. On tracks like Money Bag, she’s clearly not trying to be anyone but herself: “I been broke my whole life, I have no clue what to do with these racks”. That’s not to say she doesn’t like to flex, as on She Bad, or consistently calling her man a “bitch” on Thru Your Phone. But songs like Ring bring a vulnerability that anyone in love can experience, asking themselves whether or not they can swallow their pride and reach out during tumultuous times.

In an era where women are no longer afraid to speak up, Invasion of Privacy is an extension of that movement in her own way. With bold authenticity and self-awareness, Cardi B proves that a little self-confidence goes a long way.

 

9/10