What Cardi B’s ‘Invasion of Privacy’ proves about being successful in hip-hop today
Cardi B is a rap star. Like, a legit household name in hip-hop that you must take into account when discussing the who’s who in the industry.
Hours after it’s release, her debut album Invasion of Privacy went gold (thanks to the massive success of the single “Bodak Yellow”), she’s co-hosting late-night programs, opening SNL, and doing whatever else you can imagine. When it comes to mainstream, Cardi has more than transcended that threshold.
However, prior to 2016, when she released her first body of work, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1, Cardi hadn’t done music at all.
In fact, she was internet famous from Instagram and had just begun dabbling in the music industry with Love and Hip-Hop. You can say she’s been making music seriously for less than four years before her now inescapable fame.
Despite her inexperience, she’s sold well and has gotten rave reviews. In fact, Pitchfork gave her a higher rating than Jay-Z’s 4:44, Tyler, The Creator’s Flower Boy, and even Kanye’s College Drop Out .
While her rapping wasn’t anything spectacular and her singing voice, not the best you’d hear, somehow she’s managed to do what millions of aspiring rapports dedicated their entire lives to accomplish: making a successful hip-hop album.
Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy proves that it’s not always the most talented that wins, that likability does wonders, and that social media is a powerful tool.
When you bring these factors together you become an asset worth investing in, such as the case with Cardi B.
Talent does not always win
You can reference Tink, Rapsody, Noname or countless of female rappers who are fundamentally more talented than Cardi B.
The Bronx native is a treasure and this is no shade, but it’s safe to say that her rapping skills don’t exactly have the “wow factor” her contemporaries possess. Yet, she scored an 8.6 from Pitchfork and has had a number one song on the Billboard.
That’s because talent does not always win.
When you listen to Invasion of Privacy, you feel everything you experience when you consume Cardi B in whichever medium you may catch her. It’s fun, it’s relatable, it’s personal, it’s authentic.
A lot of times we may wonder why certain artists aren’t bigger than they are, and that’s a part of it: they’re not able to convey a relatable enough story through their music. Cardi B and her team were able to do that in a genius manner.
Songs like “Bickenhead” which is new fun re-do of Project Pat’s “Chickenhead” and “Be Careful” which is a raw heartbroken ballad that is perfect for singing along, are examples of how she leans on what she knows and how she excels by staying in her lane.
Social following helps
Cardi B is a social media savant and gets that her transparency appeals to her constituents. She’s given dating advice from the perspective of a Bronx stripper and has been very honest about surgical augmentations that were done to her body. So, when it was time for the release of Invasion of Privacy, it was only right that her hive supported in droves.
Cardi’s presence on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat is a testament and should be a case study to how to be successful in music in this era. The larger the social following, the more markets you reach.
As before where radio boxed you into specific regions and particular audiences, social media opens the doors to whomever you can get to buy in. This put Cardi B a step ahead when she did decide to pursue music two years ago.
Resources are everything
Cardi B signing to Atlantic Records in 2017 was one of the best decisions she could have made. The independent lane has been gloried of late, a la Chance, Tech Nine, and others, but when you’re already bubbling — as Cardi was, being on cable television and having had a social following– sometimes all you need are the right resources to help optimize.
Her biggest single “Bodak Yellow” and the lead single to Invasion of Privacy, “Be Careful” both have writing credits to Jordan Thorpe, which is the pen name for New York rapper Pardison Fontaine, and she’s been open about having multiple ghostwriters on the project.
Invasion of Privacy is carried by names like Chance tha Rapper, SZA, 21 Savage, Migos, and Khelani, not to mention a press tour that has not missed a news outlet yet. All these things help, especially when you’re brand new to the music industry.
How Invasion of Privacy was catered around Cardi B’s strength’s — the rollout, the features, coupled with her reliability and popular social media presence, all go into what makes Cardi B the hottest name in hip-hop right now and why her album is actually a decent listen.
Though it makes you happy for Cardi, it also makes you think what that means for other viral successes who want to leverage their influence and optimize their following?
If all it takes is some authenticity, a mass following, and a team with the resources and vision to mold just the right album around you, why can’t others follow Cardi B’s footsteps?
Jake Paul, a famous YouTube star who makes millions off his YouTube channel, was rumored to have signed with Atlantic Records just last year and the infamous ‘Catch me outside’ girl, Danielle Bregoli, who goes by Bhad Bhabie, signed with Atlantic Records in 2017.
None of the two have a background in rap and neither of them attempted music professionally until after having viral fame. The perfect case study is Boonk. He is a kid who got viral fame from being a menace to society. Out of nowhere, he has pivoted and just recently started doing music. The transition seems to have gone smoothly as he has already shared the stage with Lil Pump and Lil Yachty.
I see talent in Cardi B; there’s something special about her and she could have a long career if she wanted. What she has opened a door to – an internet sensation with the right team has a shot at the hip-hop crown.
Whether that’s a good or bad thing for the genre is for the future to decide.