Ever since Invasion of Privacy dropped this past Friday on streaming services all over the world, Cardi B. has positioned herself as the absolute Queen of pop culture. She confirmed rumors of her pregnancy with a triumphant performance on Saturday Night Live, upstaged Jimmy Fallon when she became the first person ever to co-host the Tonight Show on Monday night, and, oh yeah, her album is set to debut at the top of the Billboard charts while receiving almost unanimous praise from critics. She’s had a damn good week which only proves it’s Cardi’s world, and we should be happy we’re living in it.
But, believe it or not, a time existed when the public was ready to brush the former stripper off as the dreaded “one-hit wonder.” After crafting 2017’s defining track with “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi promised her fans an official album was set to drop in October of the same year, a promise which she didn’t keep. When her follow-up single, “Bartier Cardi,” featuring a fire verse from 21 Savage, finally arrived, it failed to capitalize on “Bodak Yellow’s” success, stalling out at Number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 which led to hordes of people jumping off the Cardi B. bandwagon, declaring her success as a ‘flash-in-the-pan,’ and relabeling Nikki Minaj as the Queen of Rap.
Yet, they were wrong. A one-hit-wonder Cardi B. is not. Invasion of Privacy arrives a few months late as her mission statement, an album brimming with ideas which show the rapper from the Bronx seamlessly transition from trap queen (“Drip,”) to Latin superstar (“I Like It,”) to heart-on-her-sleeve pop balladry (“Be Careful,”). It opens in the same vein as Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares,” with a slow-building rags-to-riches story where she details how she was forced with two options “stripping or lose,” and keeps the momentum riding high through the album’s thirteen songs which concludes with “I Do,” a track teaming her up with another Queen riding high off 2017’s success, SZA.
The album not only benefits from a relatively short running length (compare Invasion of Privacy’s 48 minutes against Drake’s overly long Views which almost doubles in length), but also from guest features which complement Cardi rather than outshine her. The album uses its special guests to elevate the songs, rather than highlight the star’s weaknesses. It’s Cardi B.’s party, and rappers like Chance the Rapper, Migos, YG, and Kehlani, all whom make appearances on the album, should be happy they received an invite.
After undergoing the most insane entrepreneurial path to musical stardom possible, starting off as a stripper before finding her way onto season six of the reality show Love and Hip-Hop, gaining millions of Instagram followers, and then dropping her first single which scorched the charts, Cardi B. has, once again, defies the nonBelievers with Invasion of Privacy, a transcendent debut album with the odds stacked against it, daring it to fail. Instead of failing, it soars above the competition as a defining document for how an artist can overcome a massive first single and follow up the hype with a piece of art which solidifies their place in pop culture’s pantheon. For all the Lil Pump’s and Lil Uzi Verts out there wondering how to not fall into the one-hit-wonder category, listen to Invasion of Privacy. This is how you succeed. Highly Recommended.