Cardi B: “Regular, Degular, Shmegular Girl from the Bronx”

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Allison P. Davis writes, “Only in 2017 could this particular strip-club, reality-television, rap-fame fairy tale have come true. And maybe only for Cardi B.” My favorite line from Davis’s smart review is “’I don’t dance now, I make money moves.’ It’s a bildungsroman in two lines, a lyric that’s both a useful summary of Cardi B’s career arc and the hook to ‘Bodak Yellow.’” Here are excerpts from Vulture:

[. . .] Cardi B — the stripper turned social-media sensation turned reality-TV star and, now, ascendant rapper — has performed her surprise hit “Bodak Yellow” dozens upon dozens of times before this. She’s done it at least five times this week, and it’s only Wednesday. In late September, with an assist from an online fan campaign, Cardi unseated Taylor Swift from her carefully plotted slot atop the pop charts, making Cardi the first solo female rapper in two decades to have a No. 1 song since Lauryn Hill did it with “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998 and certainly the first reality-TV star (or Instagram personality) to do so. This is the kind of audience and attention that comes with mainstream success. Last night, Cardi met J.Lo backstage at a benefit. “I just kept acting like a fucking weirdo, but I think she understands,” Cardi says. “Man, I met Beyoncé, too. Who else I gonna meet? Jesus?” [. . .]

[. . .] “I don’t dance now, I make money moves.” It’s a bildungsroman in two lines, a lyric that’s both a useful summary of Cardi B’s career arc and the hook to “Bodak Yellow.” It was a slow-building-groundswell record, not one that was manufactured by a Swedish hit-bot in selvedge denim but one that started with Cardi fooling around over the top of a song, “No Flockin’,” by rapper Kodak Black. Cardi wasn’t sure it was good — she even asked a reporter to take a listen, unsure of what she had. Released in June, “Bodak Yellow” moved to Spotify’s influential RapCaviar playlist in July, which helped bring it to open-car-window ubiquity sometime in the hottest months of the year. Even now, the ferocious opening bars to the song — “Said little bitch, you can’t fuck wit me” — still get a dance floor going. It’s the way she spits the lines. The way the only consonant she pops in an otherwise languidly delivered statement is that B in “bitch.” It’s dismissive and confident — a burn, an assertion, and a mic drop in one. It’s the rap version of Don Draper shrugging, “I don’t think about you at all.”

Women, and especially women of color, seem to love the song most, as an anthem of knowing your worth and getting what you deserve, of flipping expectations. Or, in Cardi’s own words: “It makes you feel like a bad bitch. It gives you this self-esteem,” a pickup, even for her. “Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m the prettiest, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m on top, and when I hear ‘Bodak Yellow’ again, I’m like, ‘Yeah! I’m that bitch!’ ” she says.

When the record hit that No. 1 spot — two weeks before she won five of the nine BET awards she was nominated for, including Hustler of the Year — everyone wanted a piece of the Cardi moment. [. . .]

For full review, see http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/cardi-b-was-made-to-be-this-famous.html

[Photo above and artwork by Hassan Hajjaj.]

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