Invasion of Privacy is the most appropriate name for Cardi B’s debut album. Raw, rough, sexual and brutally honest, the thirteen track project is an intimate view into Cardi’s personality and her explosive rise to fame, right down to her signature screeches and adlibs. As she spits on the sixth track, Best Life, this album is ‘some real-life fairytale Binderella shit’, a non-chronological rags to riches story which is entwined within her first full length project.
Where others in a similar position may seek to hide their less than glamorous pasts, Cardi embraces and celebrates her humble beginnings. On the opening track, Get Up 10, she describes how she was financially and emotionally bankrupt, how she relied on stripping, and her previous drama with 212 rapper Azealia Banks in her thick new york accent. There’s no bombastic writing or thoughtful wordplay; everything is as straight forward and filterless as the rapper herself. It’s an approach that’s definitely a double edged sword, with the crass topics complimenting her authentic image that she’s curated and utilised to gain astronomic fame, however it’s doesn’t showcase any technical skill.
A lack of technical talent is a prevailing theme throughout the project. While Cardi does switch up her flow frequently, they all share a similar caedance and brazen nature with her debut flow on Bodak Yellow, and the elementary rhyming pattern seems to induce equally simplistic writing. Although the topics are genuine, the way they’re delivered is equally straightforward and peppered with overused metaphors and sexual cliches. Luckily, there’s frequent respite from Cardi’s flows in the form of features, which include her fellow Atlantic Records mate Kehlani, her fiance, future cousin and uncle in law, and chart toppers such as SZA, 21 Savage and Chance the Rapper. The Migos deliver one of their more underwhelming and predictable performances on Drip, with Offset managing to once again sneak in a mention about his watch brand of choice. Sonically, the track sounds suspiciously similar to another Migos track, Slippery, although it could just be their shared use of a very fluid sounding melody. On the other hand, SZA handles the chorus on ‘I Do’ spectacularly, with a sugary and melodic delivery that synergises with Cardi’s brash verses well.
For the most part most part, the beats are all very crisp and echoey, with an overwhelming trap flavour. The only track that deviates from this formula is ‘I Like It’, which sonically pays homage to Cardi B’s Hispanic background, over the top of a contemporary thumping bass. It’s regrettable that the production has been taken in a more apprehensive direction that contradicts Cardi B’s spectacularly gaudy personality, but this conservative approach is easier to market, especially on an artists debut album.
While she may have wanted a threesome with Chrissy Teigen and Rihanna, Cardi B has created a debut album that’s equal parts New York, Atlanta and Latino. Her technical skill and writing may be somewhat absent, and the production unremarkable, but the honest lyrics and her addictive personality will be sure to attract fans regardless. It seems Cardi B is here to stay for a while.