‘Invasion of Privacy’ is a party with Cardi B
Brian Raab | Thursday, April 19, 2018
As someone who has watched Cardi B’s music grow since her first mixtape, I can finally say, well done.
Cardi’s first two mixtapes were unpredictable and unpolished — the production, flows and rhymes were rudimentary at best and cringeworthy at worst. Cardi’s gift for crafting unforgettable quotables on reality TV spawned viral hits like “Foreva” and “Lick.” Despite this success, Cardi never seemed like a legitimate rapper, always adjacent to rap like some sort of musical court jester. The tide turned with the warning shot “Red Barz,” a gritty 2-minute freestyle and Cardi’s first indication of lyrical capability.
Then, in late June 2017, it dropped: Cardi B’s juggernaut of a debut single, “Bodak Yellow.” Everything about the track was magnetic: the instantly recognizable beat, the middle finger of a hook, the Instagram-worthy verses. With “Bodak,” Cardi hit a home run. “Invasion of Privacy” is just a victory lap around the bases.
“Invasion of Privacy” doesn’t sound remotely close to phoned-in, though. Nowhere is Cardi’s hard work in the studio more apparent than the electric album opener “Get Up 10.” Its propulsive two-part structure — a la “Dreams and Nightmares” — lets Cardi spit bitter bars about stripping across from her school while later ruthlessly threatening to kick a girl in the neck with a designer shoe. With “Get Up 10,” Cardi comes out the gate swinging for the fences, ready to prove herself as a rapper.
And prove herself she does. “I Like It” twists boogaloo into a certified trap banger, sure to be Cardi’s next hit. “I Do,” thanks to a stellar SZA feature and slick production by Murda Beatz, demonstrates that any word, even “dapper,” can be shady in the right hands. Later cuts “Best Life,” “Be Careful” and “Bartier Cardi” see Cardi capably weaving her way through internal rhymes and careening flows like a rap veteran.
There are, however, stumbles in the tracklist. The copy-and-paste hook and beat of “Drip” make for a forgettable listen as Cardi quickly fades into the background of what feels like a Migos outtake. Furthermore, the R&B sway of “Ring” is pleasant at first, but the song stagnates as Kehlani and Cardi succumb to routine. Despite these errors, good moments shine through on these tracks, suggesting that if tweaked, these songs could be powerful weapons for Cardi.
Cardi doesn’t shy away from raunchiness on her debut either. The third verse on the delightfully trashy “Bickenhead” serves as her manifesto for female sexual liberation — whenever, wherever. Although “She Bad” misfires due to YG’s lethargic performance, Cardi’s contribution succeeds, chock full of the colorful sexual imagery from her Instagram days. Whether telling her man to “beat it up like pinatas” or requesting for a threesome with Chrissy Teigen and Rihanna, Cardi shows no intention of being an angel.
“Invasion of Privacy” truly loses its footing on the tracks seemingly directed at the infidelity of Offset, Cardi’s fiance. Cardi’s anger on these songs is certainly convincing and well-executed lyrically, but Cardi often attempts vulnerability through singing, a talent that she really doesn’t have. The cooing hook and aggressive verses on “Thru Your Phone” work separately, but the juxtaposition when together makes for a strange listening experience.
Although “Invasion of Privacy” feels like a playlist more than a cohesive album, the worst material is leaps and bounds beyond mixtape Cardi. New Cardi has done her research and delivered an excellent finished product. Her music has reinvigorated the female rap game and paved the way for other success stories like hers. Who knows if Cardi B will stick around — but I sincerely hope she does.
Artist: Cardi B
Album: “Invasion of Privacy”
Favorite Track: “Get Up 10”
If you like: Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Trina
Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5