For 15 years and maybe more, rappers like: Diddy, Lloyd Banks, French Montana, Maino and even Fabolous have dropped hit songs about “bringing New York Back”. Even Jay Z sang about New York.
The entire debacle has been going on for so long with various artists believing they could return the birthplace of hip hop to its original glorious realm. The entire idea might have seemed ridiculous till CARDI B’s INVASION OF PRIVACY album, which portrayed New York once again as the home of the hottest, brightest and biggest superstar in rap.
Everyone who knows Cardi, knows that she is well-aware of her stature. She recently featured as a guest on Lil Yachty’s new single, “Who want the smoke?”, and the 25-year-old rap lines had everyone talking. She raps: “The fur on my shoulder mink. Tell me what Hov would think. I get money, I am the king of New York. And I rock a sew-in weave.” That line of Cardi’s should not be questioned because she is entitled to her opinion.
An opinion that is clearly visible and undeniable after the Bronx woman is the first ever female rap artist to earn two Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles. The doubt sets in anytime anyone different from Biggie Smalls aspires to claim the throne to NY RAP, there’s always a feud. It’s a well known belief that if you do not write your lines, you could never conquer rap, no matter how good you are. A predominant rule in the city of NY.
Now the question here is this: Did Dr Dre who has had the help of ghost writers during his entire career, not drop classic masterpieces which shaped musical history? Would you dare say that G-Eazy is not a force to be reckoned with from LA? Can you even argue for any rapper other than Drake being the biggest start to come from Toronto?
Whether or not Cardi B is responsible for writing every single letter on her debut album barely makes any sense into this discussion. What exactly makes one qualified and good enough to be considered the King of New York? In my own opinion this should be based on three factors: Glamour, Content and also “New Yorkness”. Cardi B has managed to fill out these pages hands down.
Not only is Cardi B the first female rap artist in history to have two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, she also holds the record for the most consistent entries on the chart ever by any female artist (13 entries). Despite this, it is not just chart success that makes Cardi’s who she is right now.
When NBC saw late night host Jimmy Fallon’s ratings begin to slump, they called Cardi to save the day. Before Cardi, a woman had never hosted or co-hosted The Tonight Show; after, Cardi has the media falling towards her. Cardi’s personality is big and so infectious, she also dominates any conversation whenever she’s invited as a guest star on a record. “The trap Selena” easily has the most memorable verse on Migos Gold-certified single “MotorSport,” and her appearance on Bruno Mars’ 2x Platinum “Finesse” has helped the single rise to No. 3 on Hot 100 billboard.
This is not necessarily out of technical superiority, though she certainly doesn’t lack skills when it comes to finding the pocket on any given beat, but rather the huge and unique mount of swag she brings to a track. This same skill set is what has allowed Cardi to borrow flows made famous by other rappers, completely overshadowing them in the process.
Sure, Kodak Black birthed the flow Cardi employs on her summertime smash single “Bodak Yellow”— the title directly references as much—but after landing at No. 1 on the charts and becoming 6x Platinum-certified, Kodak’s influence has been relegated seriously. Cardi B shines so brightly, she’s practically impossible to outshine on any level. Regardless of whether you like her music or not, there’s simply no debating that she is a superstar.
Though we live in the streaming era, the most important thing by which recording artists are judged is by their album. It may not necessarily be the most profitable, but in an artistic sense, it remains the ultimate test.
After Cardi caught the eye of the entire world following the entrance that was “Bodak Yellow,” she was silently tasked with creating an album stuffed with equally imposing bangers, alternating them with enough introspection as to not be pegged as a one-trick pony, and sequencing it in a manner that would make the project flow as a whole, with—at the very least—one record as big or bigger than her monster hit.
Oh, and she had to deliver the entire thing before rap’s fickle audience would invariably move on to the next hot name with a big single. No pressure. It’s no doubt that Invasion of Privacy actually delivered what we all expected. It’s an album that couldn’t belong to anybody but her, nobody else could do it better. Cardi B’s vocal inflections, hugely confident flow, quirky ad-libs, and strident delivery are integral to the success of the album. Just try to imagine any single line on the album delivered by somebody else, and it becomes a different beast entirely. This is no small thing. Next to having a unique flow, infusing a rap performance with a singular sense of personality is arguably the biggest part of being a great rapper.
Sure, writing memorable and impactful verses is an important part of a rapper’s skill set, especially if you want to be within sniffing distance of the G.O.A.T discussion, but it’s certainly not the primary one.
3. NEW YORKNESS
There’s the undeniable star, with a unique voice, personality, a badass flow, and a debut album that encapsulates all of that. While that’s all great, what hands Cardi’s position as the current King of New York is the fact that not a single word from her mouth sounds like it could come from anywhere else from her city. “I’m from the motherfuckin’ Bronx,” she snaps on “Bartier Cardi,” as if there could ever be any other area that kind of delivery could emanate from.
Besides, where’s the competition? Kendrick’s claim to the throne on “Control” was just an over-the-top boast, simply because nobody was going to grant him that honor as a modern Los Angeles icon.
A$AP ROCKY is a huge international star—though, he’s never been as popular as Cardi is currently—but his sound and flow are not particular towards New York. Joey Bada$$ can easily be seen as a present-day descendant of NYC’s rich rap tradition, but he’s nowhere near Cardi B’s level of ubiquity or success—yet. Neither is 6ix9ine, who has managed to have a couple of hits but is still unknown by most people who are old enough to drink.
With JAY-Z out of this, counting money in the Louvre after his wife outshone him in their joint album. NAS made the world wait six years for a tacky and overrated and forgettable album produced by Kanye West.
All of this brings us back to Cardi. Even her rags-to-riches story is a modern American Dream, what could be more royalty than that? “Got a bag and fixed my teeth / Hope you hoes know it ain’t cheap” are the words of a modern Binderella story set between skyscrapers.
At the end of the day, it’s that unique combination of unapologetic in-your-face attitude and charisma, coupled with her easily recognizable accent, that leaves no room for doubt whatsoever: Cardi B is global. Cardi B is the current best at what she does. She is the King of New York. You can go ahead and dispute her but remember, if you’re going for the King, you better not miss.