In a genre filled with Technicolor boasts, sometimes grounded brags are the most impactful. Initially known primarily as a lovably rambunctious social media personality and Love & Hip Hop castmate, Cardi B used the first verse of her breakout single, “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” to reflect on the hard-earned thrill of being able to afford some expensive dental work: “Got a bag and fixed my teeth/Hope you hoes know it ain’t cheap.” It’s a flex that strikes the heart of aspirational women who have turned perceived flaws into an outlet for inimitable power.
Cardi B maximized that energy source with the 2017 track, transforming her from a reality TV star-turned rapper into an instant hip-hop luminary. But Cardi had one more entry on the burgeoning rap superstar checklist: a strong debut album. Released five years ago today, Invasion of Privacy was a lot more than that.
With a mixture of universal acclaim and historic levels of commercial success, Cardi B’s maiden LP was an episodic win that turned into an extended victory lap, breaking Billboard records while establishing her as a pop culture force who’s endured, even without the benefit of an extensive catalog. Bardi’s mix of blunt honesty, good looks, and outright charisma had already made her a somebody. Invasion of Privacy established her as a rapper to be respected for her mic presence and curatorial instincts—a self-contained institution to be stanned, streamed, and eventually immortalized.
A flurry of quippy put-downs, self-mythology, and dynamic songwriting (a considerable amount in collaboration with Pardison Fontaine), Invasion of Privacy sees Cardi tap into an array of emotions and sensations as varied as the soundscapes and stylistic avenues she chooses to distill them through. The tracklist is a portrait of chameleonic versatility; an affair that encapsulates various eras and regions of hip-hop. “Get Up 10” is a ferocious motivational opener that calls to mind Meek Mill’s classic Dreams and Nightmares intro. An exercise in breath control and effortless confidence, “Drip” feels like a Migos song that Cardi somehow made her own. “Bickenhead” flips a Project Pat banger into a stylish hustler’s theme song. The tracks underscore a learned invincibility with their combination of swagger and technical prowess.
But she can also emit devastating hurt. Cardi evokes pain and betrayal with “Be Careful.” The intimately vulnerable track finds her floating over ambient synths, as her typically commanding vocals melt into a timid whimper for a hook that sounds like surrender but doubles as a warning: “Be careful with me, do you know what you doin’?/Whose feelings that you’re hurting and bruising?” Packaged with a conversational flow and confrontational lyrics that simulate the confusion that accompanies infidelity, the track is as effective as any Cardi’s released. It also shows a level of nuance and control that enables her to fully inhabit whatever feeling she’s looking to isolate.
With their combination of swagger and technical prowess, the tracks underscore a learned invincibility.
Fused with a propulsive voice that leaves no room to escape Cardi’s personality, the artist’s refined, deliberate approach to songwriting extracts the best parts of the Bronx rhymer. It’s a synergy that renders a fully realized persona, one that transcends the bounds of empty come-up aphorisms and trite not-so-humblebrags. Her all-around control also translated to mega hits.
By the time Invasion of Privacy was released, “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” was already a massive hit, and her guest spots on Migos’ “MotorSport” and G-Eazy’s “No Limit” only increased her momentum when they both placed in the Billboard Hot 100 chart top 10. Still, she bested herself when she released “I Like It.” The song features a sample of Pete Rodriguez’s timeless “I Like It Like That (A Mi Me Gusta Asi),” as well as a feature from J Balvin and Bad Bunny, who was on the cusp of global domination. The music video for the Latin trap single has earned over 1.5 billion YouTube views, and the song itself was certified 10 times platinum nearly a year and a half ago. The track is a partial tribute to Cardi’s Latin heritage. It’s also a microcosm of IOP, where parts of Cardi’s heritage are repurposed for something new and inescapable.
Indeed, Invasion of Privacy has been ubiquitous in almost every meaningful sense of the word. Both “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” and “I Like It” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and were certified platinum 11 times. Their success has been mirrored by the dominance of the album they were released on. The LP itself was certified triple-platinum by April 2019, but considering that artists generally have to inform the RIAA of sales certification updates, it wouldn’t be a surprise if she’d doubled that total in the four years since. After all, the project has had a lot of endurance. About a year ago, the LP became the first from a woman rapper to hold down a spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart for 200 weeks.
Invasion of Privacy accomplished just about everything. Symbolically, it’s a rare instance of the end result actually exceeding the hype in every way possible. Every single song on the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100. Every track has been certified platinum or better. Invasion of Privacyt won her the Grammy for Best Rap Album. In basketball terms, Cardi B’s debut as a major label artist was like a first-year player winning Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a championship. She made every shot she took. It was both an arrival and a takeover.
Fused with a propulsive voice that leaves no room to escape Cardi’s personality, the artist’s refined, deliberate approach to songwriting extracts the best parts of the Bronx rhymer.
The numbers and the critical acclaim are staggering, but their effect is just as incredible. Despite releasing just one project in half a decade, Cardi retains all the gravitas of a long-since established musical icon. She headlines music festivals, she’s hosted a game show, and a Cardi feature is the most potent co-sign this side of the Drake stimulus package. In truth, aside from spot features and an occasional solo single, Cardi’s been quiet as the world awaits her forthcoming new album. A sizable amount of this comes down to her persona and presence in other facets of social media and entertainment. But those elements aren’t as helpful when the music doesn’t stack up to the impressions; Rihanna had to be Rihanna before launching a makeup empire.
Since Invasion of Privacy’s release, Cardi B’s put miles of space between herself and her former status as an underdog. It’s been a while since she got the bag and fixed her teeth, and these days she’s got a lot of flashier things to brag about. In the midst of her initial breakout moment, Cardi took the time to tell naysayers about her historic level up. In the wake ofInvasion of Privacy, there’s no need for a reminder. On her debut album, she showcased a level of craft and all-around power that folks can’t forget—even if they wanted to.
source: complex. Com