B Em­pow­ered

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Cardi B

In­va­sion of Pri­vacy

Since the re­lease of “Bo­dak Yel­low” last June, Cardi B’s climb to the top of the charts and into en­ter­tain­ment hearts has been fruit­ful — and one of the most un­likely sto­ries in rap in re­cent years: a for­mer strip­per turned re­al­ity star turned chart-top­ping rap­per with a strong Bronx ac­cent and an even stronger New York at­ti­tude. Sit­ting at 13 sin­gles, in­clud­ing the al­ready re­leased “Bo­dak Yel­low,” “Bartier Cardi” and “Drip,” Cardi has al­ready es­tab­lished her­self as the “Trap Se­lena,” but it’s her softer songs that add a new di­men­sion to her artistry. While Cardi B’s own re­la­tion­ship with Mi­gos’s Off­set has been thrown into the spot­light, In­va­sion of Pri­vacy feels like her Lemon­ade mo­ment, one that mag­ni­fies her in­se­cu­ri­ties for pub­lic con­sump­tion.

Sam­pling Lau­ryn Hill’s “Ex-Fac­tor,” but

De­cem­ber’s G.O. A.T. mix­tape, was packed with bars, though a lack of vari­a­tion in pro­duc­tion left it very dark and monochro­matic. Blakk Tape, though al­most en­tirely pro­duced by Griselda main­stay Deringer, pro­vides a more well-rounded vibe with­out sac­ri­fic­ing any of Con’s trade­mark ul­tra-grimy aes­thetic. The tape kicks off with the dark pi­ano keys of “Night Drive,” which es­tab­lishes the lyri­cal en­ergy for the project. It’s when he takes on dif­fer­ent types of pro­duc­tion, and lets straight-up gun talk bal­ance it­self with more lyri­cal bars (see “Al­paca”) that his real po­ten­tial shines through.

Songs like “Puzo,” a ref­er­ence to The God­fa­ther au­thor Mario Puzo, the al­most spacey sounds of “Eight Birds” pro­duced by Har­lem beat­smith V Don, and the ’90s boom bap or­gan keys on the Bozack Mor­ris-pro­duced “Bis­cotti Bis­cuit” help pro­vide breaks in his usual melan­choly pro­duc­tion choices. “Pave­ment,” a track ded­i­cated to those he lost, is full of hu­mil­ity, show­ing an­other side of Con: be­yond be­ing an ag­gres­sor, he’s ex­pe­ri­enced the heart-wrench­ing losses of street life. Con­way has yet to drop an of­fi­cial ma­jor la­bel re­lease since the Shady deal that made Con and his brother West­side Gunn the first Buf­falo rap­pers to sign a ma­jor la­bel deal. Still, a string of mix­tapes have kept his buzz up, and Blakk Tape should no doubt bring it to a fever pitch. If Con­way still isn’t on build­ing on the skele­ton of Eve’s do­mes­tic vi­o­lence-themed “Love Is Blind,” Cardi B re­veals her fears of in­fi­delity on “Be Care­ful,” while the Kehlani-fea­tur­ing “Ring,” and “Thru Your Phone,” speak of heart­break and jeal­ousy. By con­trast, “Bick­en­head” tack­les sex­ual lib­er­a­tion, while serv­ing as a re­sponse to Project Pat’s “Chick­en­head.” Like yin and yang, Cardi B’s abil­ity to move from heartache to sex, and then again to the gospel-in­spired “Best Life,” high­lights myr­iad emo­tions that most young adults have — and more im­por­tantly, can re­late to. Though Cardi B doesn’t hide her come-up story (which she raps about un­apolo­get­i­cally on “Get Up 10”), she uses In­va­sion of Pri­vacy to re­mind us that in­stead of be­ing a statis­tic, she em­pow­ers her­self (and oth­ers) by re­claim­ing any neg­a­tiv­ity thrown her way. (KSR/At­lantic) your list of most an­tic­i­pated, it’s time to get on the band­wagon. (Griselda, www.grisel­daxfr.com) ROCK

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