by Daniel Fappiano
New York-born rapper Cardi B, real name Belcalis Almanzar, took the world by storm in 2017 with the release of her single “Bodak Yellow.” With its simplistic beat and Cardi’s fierce flow, it was an immediate hit, selling over five million units and being nominated for two Grammys.
However, many wondered if Cardi would be able to find continued success or if “Bodak Yellow” was her peak. The dancer-turned-rapper was able to prove that she is much more than an one hit wonder with her debut album “Invasion of Privacy.”
The LP starts with the song “Get Up 10,” which details how no matter the hardship she has faced in life, Cardi has gotten back up. It is very reminiscent of Meek Mills’ “Dreams and Nightmares” in that it builds slowly before Cardi unleashes and sings her battle cry of from rags to riches.
The album then goes into the song “Drippin” featuring Migos. The song sounds very similar to most of Migos’ songs with a catchy beat and triplet flows. However, the Migos’ feature overwhelms this track. While Cardi’s verse isn’t bad, this feels much more like a Migos song featuring Cardi rather than the other way around.
Throughout this album, that is Cardi’s biggest problem. While she brings in big name features such as Chance the Rapper, YG, 21 Savage, SZA and Kehlani, she struggles to shine when she isn’t the only artist on the song.
On the song “Best Life” with Chance the Rapper, it feels much more like a Chance song than a Cardi song. With a sultry beat you would more likely find on “Coloring Book or “Acid Rap,” this song lacks that hard-hitting sound that Cardi is known for.
This continues on songs like “Ring” featuring Kehlani and “I Do” featuring SZA. Each song sounds like they should come off of the featuring artist’s album rather than Cardi. Cardi’s unique flows doesn’t always vibe with artists who are known for their ability to sing. While they aren’t necessarily bad songs, it would be hard to classify them as “Cardi B” songs.
Cardi clearly wanted to shy away from the idea that she’s just a rapper who can throw down hardcore bars on “Invasion of Privacy.” Multiple times throughout the album, she wanted to show she can string together meaningful lyrics about relationships and love.
On the song “Be Careful,” Cardi is rapping about how her significant other, perhaps current fiancé Offset, has been unfaithful. She is warning others about the dangers of dating and how they should keep an eye out if the suspect is cheating.
Cardi’s words carry a strong meaning and have value to her as Offset’s potential infidelities have been in the news. However, it doesn’t come with a bombastic beat, creating almost a lull in the album. Fans have come to expect Cardi to just bring party-type songs and not delve into serious matters. Songs like “Be Careful,” “Ring,” “Thru Your Phone” and “I Do” are the complete opposite of what Cardi is used to, which creates a shock to most listeners.
While these slower songs are necessary and paint who Cardi wants to be as an artist, none really shine as much as “Bodak Yellow.” Listeners must get used to a much more serious and somber version of Cardi, a version they might not want to accept after the previous hype to the album.
However, that’s not to say Cardi doesn’t bring fun and party-worthy songs to the album. Tracks like “Bickenhead” and “Money Bag” prove that Cardi hasn’t forgotten how to bring the energy on her songs and get people off their feet.
Perhaps, her best effort at this is the song “I Like It,” featuring J. Balvin and Bad Bunny. Cardi brings a Latin flair and her bold flow to the track, with one of the most memorable choruses on the album. Currently, “I Like It” is the second-highest song on Spotify’s “Top Hits Playlist,” proving that Cardi may have another hit on her hands.
Overall, on “Invasion of Privacy,” Cardi tries to delve into more serious topics without losing her fun and exotic flow. She excels at bringing her hardcore vibe to songs, yet struggles at times when bringing in features or trying to make a more a “serious” song.
However, Cardi has clearly made her niche in the industry. She has proven she is here to stay and is more than just Bodak Yellow. “Invasion of Privacy” isn’t a perfect album, but a strong effort for Cardi’s debut project.