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