By Georgia Kotsinis
Photography courtesy of Cardi B's Instagram
Cardi B is the leading female star in hip-hop, a well-deserved title after her success in 2017 and glowing ability to spit bars. Her single, “Bodak Yellow,” rose to popularity amongst the trap-obsessed millennials who dictate the new mainstream. The song received two Grammy nominations, as well as garnered collaborations with 21 Savage, Migos and Bruno Mars.
Cardi B’s themes of female empowerment, autonomy over her sexuality and financial independence are nothing new for listeners of female artists, but her unapologetic and provocative lyrics bring a fresh energy and projective volume to these messages in a male-dominated sphere.
Similar to other rappers, she is boastfully honest in her music, a trait she also presents in interviews and on social media. Her loud, outgoing and silly characteristics create an attractive personality both on and off the stage.
“Even though I don’t listen to her, I appreciate her outspokenness,” says Madison Newell (CAS ‘19).
Her genuine persona and undeniable talent could throw her into the upper echelon of female legends in hip-hop. In fact, “Bodak Yellow” is the first completely solo single by a female rapper since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” of 1998, to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
And what about Nicki Minaj?
Nicki Minaj is a household name in terms of female rappers and, to the average person, the two women have an uncanny resemblance. A big difference, however, is that Nicki’s grand successes in hip-hop and pop are those of the past. Questions now rise if she is losing traction in popularity, or if she’s coming up short in some of her most recent verses.
Anton Saich (COM ‘18) and self-proclaimed “hip-hop head” is fully on board with Cardi B taking over as leader in the female rap scene. “Cardi B is the authentic version of the character Nicki Minaj plays,” he said.
A recent, concrete comparison between the two talents is on the song “Motorsport,” a banger they worked on together with trap hip-hop group, Migos. Cardi B doesn’t hold back with her explosive bars, while Nicki uses a slower flow for the majority of her verses. For some, the evident stylistic differences may make it easier, or harder, to compare the two, and the jury is still out on whose verses triumphed over the other’s.
Cardi B isn’t necessarily the new Nicki. She is the first Cardi, and a complete reinvention of the female rap game that Nicki previously dominated.
Rising star in the Latin genre, too.
Cardi B is not shy in expressing her Dominican background, which shines through in her interviews, videos and lyrics. After solidifying her presence in hip-hop this year, she promptly tried her talents in reggaeton, the most popular genre for the Latino demographic.
She is featured on Ozuna’s “La Modelo,” a classic reggaeton song with Carribean style, dance-heavy beats and Spanish rap and vocals. Additionally, Cardi B showed off her bilingual skills by rapping in both Spanish and English for “Bodak Yellow (Latin Trap Remix),” featuring Messiah.
Her ability to insert herself into two of the most popular genres, taking hold of a huge demographic of the millennial-aged audience, means that she has the potential to not only become a leading female rap star, but a Latin rap and reggaeton star as well.
The result? It has her sitting alongside legends like “King of Reggaeton” Daddy Yankee at pre-Grammy events and co-starring in Amazon’s Super Bowl commercial.
The question on everybody’s mind: will her success sustain? Right now, it seems like it could.
For Mari Andreatta (COM ‘19), an avid listener of rap, Cardi B’s role is necessary to the genre and she hopes that she is here to stay.
“In a genre with a lot of focus on sex, love, materialism, drugs and sociopolitical messages, it is refreshing and powerful to hear Cardi B’s female perspective,” she said.
As many other critics and enthusiasts of the genre have expressed before, the true test will be when she drops her first studio album, whose rumored release is sometime in early 2018. Regardless of how it’s received, the album will undoubtedly showcase her ability to spit with an articulated diction over lyrics that reflect her confident, raw attitude – as well as include a few bangers and some big-name, hip-hop artists.