When Cardi B’s 2017 single “Bodak Yellow” broke records and knocked Taylor Swift from the No. 1 chart spot on Billboard, it was clear that the Bronx-bred artist was here to stay. After the release of “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi, who first gained widespread attention via Instagram and her appearances on “Love and Hip Hop: New York” (2011–), established herself as a hot item. Now, with her empowering, personally intimate and never-boring album “Invasion of Privacy” (2018), she solidifies her rightful place at the pinnacle of music and pop culture. In 13 tracks, her individual struggle is well-documented as one of the best debut albums this side of the millennium.
“Invasion of Privacy” is incredibly personal and intimate. At times, it feels like Cardi is telling us the story of her life from the opening testament “Get Up 10″ to her collaboration with Chance the Rapper on the slow-jam “Best Life.” When Cardi declares in “Get Up 10″ that “I started speakin’ my mind and tripled my views / Real bitch, only thing fake is the boobs,” she immediately tells listeners that the album is going to be just like her: unfiltered, honest and real. She’s fantastically independent, telling listeners “I don’t want your punk-ass man / I’m too tough” before the hard beat drop of “Get Up 10.” Her personal strength seamlessly flows throughout the album and never fails to inspire.
Arguably, the highlight of the album’s emotion comes on the slower “Be Careful,” where Cardi disses a former lover and doubts herself. Her feelings of anger and betrayal are vivid. She drops her confident persona for a moment, confessing “You even got me trippin’ / You got me lookin’ in the mirror different / Thinkin’ I’m flawed because you inconsistent.” These personal moments balance perfectly with her signature humor and her boss persona throughout the album.
Cardi’s sexual voraciousness is evident throughout, but comes to a head on “Bickenhead.” She opens it with a dedication, claiming, “Goes for all my nasty hoes.” The song is an absolute bop and features some of the most clever lyrics on the album, like “When I’m done, I make him cum, but then he comin’ off that cash.” This sexual confidence is evident on other songs like “I Do,” where Cardi claims, “P—- so good I say my own name during sex.”
At her best, Cardi dominates “Invasion of Privacy” with fast flows and vivacious beats. She takes center stage, especially on the electronic “Money Bag” and “Thru Your Phone.” There are certain moments, notably “Drip” and “Best Life,” where Cardi feels slightly overshadowed by her featured artists. The weakest track, “Drip,” feels like a leftover from Migos’ “Culture II” (2018) that Cardi takes a break on. Despite this, Cardi remains her own icon throughout the tracks, an independent money-maker on the eerie “I Do” and a prideful powerhouse on “Ring.”
She gets back to work on emotional ballads like “Thru Your Phone” and “I Do,” both of which feel like personal pages from Cardi’s diary or long rants she would have with her close friends. In this way, Cardi presents herself as a three-dimensional person. Sure, she’s hilarious, but her talent comes from her ability to balance the different aspects of her story and herself.
“Invasion of Privacy” features some of the most memorable lyrics of any debut. It’s an album other artists dream of making, something so perfectly fleshed out and real. Cardi doesn’t present herself as a persona, but rather as the fresh face the music industry so desperately needs. On the closing track of the album, “I Do,” she taunts, “My little 15 minutes lasting long as hell, huh?” Indeed, Cardi’s prominence looks like it will be permanent, and that is a very, very good thing.