Cardi B is living her best life. Or so she says. But it wasn’t always that way.
You see, the woman born Belcalis Almanzar didn’t enjoy a privileged upbringing. The daughter of a Dominican father and Trinidadian mother, she grew up on the rough streets of the Bronx. At 19 she began her career as an exotic dancer. And while that could easily have been the end of the road, Cardi accrued quite the following—enough to propel her off of that stage and onto a much bigger one.
One MTV reality show and No. 1 single later (“Bodak Yellow“), and Cardi has quickly risen to the top of the female hip-hop game. Reigning rap queen Nicki Minaj isn’t happy about it, if feud rumors are to be believed. But it doesn’t seem like anyone can slow this ambitious 25-year-old singer’s momentum at this point.
On her official debut album, Invasion of Privacy, Cardi’s accompanied by artists such as Chance the Rapper, SZA and Migos as she dives into attitude-drenched songs about fame and money, sex and betrayal.
“Best Life” references hard work and prayer (albeit, perhaps in the context of Cardi’s former work as a stripper). In “Get Up 10,” Cardi carries the burden of providing financially for her family: “Only person in my fam to see six figures/The pressure on your shoulders feel like boulders.”
In “Be Careful” and “Ring,” she tells fiance, Offset (from the group Migos), that she has been faithful to him even when he has (apparently) cheated on her. She asks him to “Be Careful” with her heart, saying, “I wanna get married, like the Currys, Steph and Ayesha.” She also tells him, “The only man, baby, I adore/I gave you everything, what’s mine is yours,” even as she observes of his weaknesses, “You gon’ gain the whole world/But is it worth the girl you’re losin’?/…Yeah, my heart Is like a package with a fragile label on it.”
Cardi also suggests on several songs that she’s not someone to be taken for granted or taken advantage of.
Every song here earns an “Explicit” warning, for both harsh profanity and sexually vulgar lyrics. F-words (often combined with “mother”) flow freely, as well as just about any other profanity you can think of. (Some in Spanish to boot.)
“Be Careful” crudely warns Offset against living a lifestyle of “chasin'” other women and “livin’ two lives” as if Cardi didn’t know what was going on. Then she warns, “And karma for you is gon’ be who you end up with.” We hear much nastier threats in “Thru Your Phone,” where Cardi tells Offset that she’s found nude photos of another woman in his phone. Uh oh: “I just want to break up all your s—/Call your mama phone, let her know that she raised a b–ch/… All I can see is you and her in different scenarios/Beyoncé on my stereo, resentment on repeat/I’ma make a bowl of cereal with a teaspoon of bleach/Serve it to you like, ‘Here you go, n-gga, bon appetit.”
Telling all her haters that she’s “arrived” is another big topic for Cardi. She also makes it very clear that her money, fame and sex appeal set her apart from every other woman. She brags about being the most desirable woman in every way. These topics (along with many sexually explicit and degrading lyrics that are too explicit to print) are found on songs such “Bodak Yellow,” “I Do,” “I Like It,” “Drip,” “Bickenhead,” “Money Bag,” “Bartier Cardi” and “She Bad.”
Beyoncé allegedly called out hubby Jay Z for his infidelity on her last album, Lemonade. And Cardi B seems to be taking a page out of that playbook here (even going so far as to namecheck Queen Bey), if rumors about Offset’s infidelity are to be believed.
The two were engaged last October and are now expecting a baby, Cardi announced during a recent performance on Saturday Night Live. And while that news is obviously exciting, finding out that your fiancé has been unfaithful is not. According to USA Today, Offset’s phone was hacked last year and sexually explicit photos of him with another woman were leaked. But when asked if she planned to stay with Offset, Cardi responded by saying:
“I know I could get any man I want—any basketball player, football player,” she said. “But I want to work out my (expletive) with my man, and I don’t got to explain why … It’s not right, what he (expletive) did—but people don’t know what I did, ’cause I ain’t no angel.”
Cardi’s lyrics reflect this attitude.
After finishing the album, I had two thoughts. The first was that I was heartbroken for Cardi and the situations she’s found herself in. I pray that she will have a healthy and thriving marriage. But my second thought was this: I wish I could un-hear these songs.
You know how people say, Be careful what you listen to? Well, it’s true. This album includes some painfully poignant moments, brought on by loss and betrayal. That said, it’s also drenched with anger, violent threats, mountains of profanity and enough vulgar and degrading sexual references that you’ll feel as if someone just invaded your privacy.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, loving raising their little guy, Judah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).