Cardi B crashed onto the charts last June with hit single “Bodak Yellow,” which brought her all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. She was the first female rapper to achieve this since Lauryn Hill in 1998. Cardi’s speedy ascent on the charts is a theme of her stunning debut album, Invasion of Privacy.
Invasion of Privacy‚ dropped this past Friday, April 6, and I have listened to almost nothing else since. This album GOES. Cardi shows a newfound mastery of her style, with fantastically mixed beats, clever lyrics and numerous collaborations. This album is about self-love and personal growth, and the challenges Cardi has faced in her own life. It is brave, funny and purely victorious.
Cardi B also had a fantastic performance on Saturday Night Live on April 7, where she announced her pregnancy. During her first performance, a medley of “Bodak Yellow” and “Bartier Cardi,” she hid her belly, but showed it off with a stunning white dress on her emotional performance of “Be Careful.” Congrats to Cardi and her fiance, Offset (of Migos), who does not deserve her at all.
Where do I even start with this album? It’s triumphant and literally every song is a banger. The album was released by Atlantic Records and was primarily produced by 30 Roc. Occasionally confessional but never afraid, Cardi breaks down her newfound success, glossing over the highs and lows of her young life (she’s 25). On the stunning opening track, “Get Up 10,” the listener gets only a taste of what the rest of the album has in store. Cardi describes how she truly went “from rags to riches,” and weaves together the story of how she got to where she is in her career. From the start of her social media presence, talking about her work as a stripper and offering laid back life advice, Cardi has always been candid and this record is no different. This is a fantastic intro filled with fire, fury and eloquence. Cardi explains how hard she had to work to escape poverty with lines like, “Look, they gave a b*tch two options: strippin’ or lose / Used to dance in a club right across from my school‚“ and “From WIC to LIT.” There couldn’t have been a better crafted intro.
The album then turns towards trap rap with the track, “Drip” (feat. Migos). This track is just about 100 percent Migos, but Cardi manages to squeak in a tight little verse regardless. What hip hop album is complete without a wacky flute sample nowadays?
For the next couple tracks, the album has a very specific mood that is hard to pin down. Cardi really owns each song from here onwards. “Bickenhead” and “Bodak Yellow,” (of course) share elements of pride, anthems of womanly sexual self-confidence and do-not-mess-with-me energy. No matter the tone of each song, Cardi’s authentic voice shines through, pumping up herself and her fellow women while dissing her haters with style.
Cardi knows what she deserves, in all respects: she is not taking any trash from men, from friends, from producers and certainly not from Twitter. On “Be Careful,” she warns possible suitors to “treat me carefully, carefully” before launching into several incredible verses that are, at times, way too relatable. One particularly oof line was, “Man, I thought you would’ve learned your lesson / ‘Bout likin’ pictures, not returnin’ texts.” Pretty much anybody with an instagram account can relate to that one. This song is all Cardi, and it’s an emotionally evocative one. In “Be Careful,” she shows that she can hold a song all by herself, and backs this up with “Money Bag” and “Thru Your Phone” later on the record.
“Best Life” brings a sense of jubilance to the record that, by the sixth track, was totally necessary. Chance The Rapper joins Cardi on a track that is indubitably the feel-good banger of this spring, followed by “I Like It,” a song every bit as playful but featuring a newfound intensity. This is the song that makes everybody lose it, with a catchy hook and two fantastic verses provided by Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin. These tracks are catchy, cheerful and aggressive in the same breath, show that Cardi’s self-worth is at an all-time high. She worked to get where she is, and it shows.
Later in the album, Cardi is joined by Kehlani on “Ring,” another all-too-relatable, tearing-at-your-heartstrings anthem. The mood quickly switches back to pride on “Bartier Cardi” with 21 Savage and “She Bad” with YG, which is a decent as a mumble-rap track, I suppose. I could use more Cardi on these tracks, but they’re still fun and immensely quotable with lines like, “Gucci bag, Gucci bag, Gucci bag, Fendi bag / Prada bag, Louis bag, Gucci bag, Gucci bag.”
The album closes as strongly as it opens, with the brilliant track “I Do,” feat. SZA. Both breakout stars of 2017, Cardi reflects SZA’s shoot to success with her debut album Ctrl, which came out around the same time as “Bodak Yellow.” This song perfectly sums up what the whole album is about success, pride, loving yourself and not texting back.
To conclude, I cannot overstate how bomb this album is. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut album, with the style and artistry Cardi displays. Cardi has come into her own. She’s “[her] own competition‚ she’s competing with [her]self.”