Does anyone else think Invasion of Privacy is an ill-fitting title for Cardi B’s debut album? Because let’s be honest, the Brooklyn rapper doesn’t seem too concerned with any form of reserve or privacy. She is loud and proud in expressing any thought that comes into her head, whether it’s about her time as a stripper, her blunt thoughts on dating and sex, or just sticking her tongue out wearing $100,000 watches because she’s living life. Cardi’s public persona is very boisterous and borders on being cartoonish, then again most hyped-up rappers these days look like cartoon characters so more power to her. But there’s something in Cardi’s energy and passion in her speech that makes it feel all incredibly sincere. When she says she’s thankful for her fans or flexes on her haters or even wants to throw rounds with the IRS, her tone and inflection give no readings of fraud. When celebrities are constantly being questioned for being fake, Cardi B is as real as it gets.
And that’s before you even hear her spit a bar. There could be a lot of reasons why “Bodak Yellow” was one of the (if not THE) biggest single of 2017, but a big one is because of the delivery of Cardi herself. Her deep voice, the groan in the chorus, and when she starts winding up on verses makes Cardi a master at capitalizing on the hype in a rap song. Cardi’s brazen attitude overflows from her when she gets on the mic, and it makes her more personable than most of her male competitors. In an industry where rappers are a dime a dozen, Cardi seemed like a diamond in the rough. Her flashy persona was only amplified by the fact that she could rap to back it up, and Cardi wanted to back it up every chance she got. So it seems like an Invasion of Privacy is warranted now that she’s one of the biggest stars on the planet.
She’s not hiding anything either. Right from the get-go on “Get Up 10,” Cardi lays out nearly every element of her life: the rags she once had (“Look, they gave a b***h two options: strippin’ or lose “), how she got her riches (“I started speakin’ my mind and tripled my views/Real b***h, only thing fake is the boobs”) and how she’s not looking to give it up anytime soon (Where that b***h that was claimin’ she a threat? (where?)/I’ma put a Louboutin where her neck at”). Honestly, she could’ve just dropped that as a single and hold the album for a year, as it’s a pitch-perfect combo of the rags-to-riches story and brag rap. The haunting background chorus with the booming trap drums leave her plenty of room to put her foot down on expectations for this 13-track, 49 minute party.
Invasion of Privacy thrives when Cardi gets to dig her heels into a track and just spit bars about who she really is. She keeps up her authenticity on “Best Life” by emphasizing how upfront she is to her fans (“I said I never had a problem showin’ y’all the real me/Hair when it’s f***ed up, crib when it’s filthy/Way-before-the-deal me, strip-to-pay-the-bills me/’Fore I fixed my teeth, man, those comments used to kill me”).
“Ring” is Cardi airing her grievances about how alot of her past relationships have been one-way streets when it comes to talking with each other (“The switchin’ up s**t is what I can’t f**k with/I’m feelin’ you but you hard to get in touch with”). As a wedding and now a baby approaches to Migos-man Offset, “Be Careful” seems all the more shocking and insightful into the personality of Cardi B. She’s descriptive enough to either have experience or have heard enough failed love stories to know how things go south (“Man, I thought you would’ve learned your lesson/’Bout likin’ pictures, not returnin’ texts…Said that you was workin’, but you out here chasin’ culo/And putas, chillin’ poolside, livin’ two lives”). She knows the behaviors of “the other woman” in cheating scandals (“She don’t even know your middle name, watch her ’cause she might steal your chain”) and is not impervious to her own feelings (“You even got me trippin’, you got me lookin’ in the mirror different/Thinkin’ I’m flawed because you inconsistent”).
It’s these moments where Cardi lays out more bits of her personality that make Invasion of Privacy interesting beyond another addition to the boom of trap rap. The musical templates of singles “Bodak Yellow” and “Bartier Cardi” pretty much fill up the rest of the album. “Bickenhead” and the Migos-featured “Drip” both have the low synth beat and electronic drums, with the former just a pitch faster than the other. “She Bad” is a dull stripper jam with a lame DJ Mustard beat, whereas “I Like It” is a fun if not useless dubbed-out remix of “I Like It Like That” for Cardi to flaunt her Latin roots.
There are moments when the music matches Cardi’s biting vocals, like the vicious “Money Bag” and it hammering bass drum and fizzled synth line. It’s here where Cardi’s brag raps are given extra punch (“How you gon’ suck yo’ man d**k with my name in yo’ mouth?”). The guests spots are few but stacked regardless: Chance the Rapper pops in on “Best Life” to ride the rags-to-riches vibe (“’Member my hands had ash like Pompeii/Now they hold cash, won’t peak like Dante”) while Migos do their schtick on “Drips” that doesn’t elevate the song. Fitting enough, it’s the female guests who gel super well with Cardi, like the smooth voices of Kehlani and SZA on “Rings” and closer “I Do.”
This album could’ve easily been a rushed job to keep the hype of Cardi going, but Invasion of Privacy is a success simply because Cardi B took control of what she wanted to say. Instead of trying to prove her star power, Cardi proves that she’s a legit rapper riding on hard-earned talent and experience to step up to her male competitors. Invasion of Privacy feels like a well-deserved victory lap for Cardi B where she gets the big-budget podium to state her case for relevancy. Lord knows where she’s going, but it’s comforting to know that she’s not a fluke.