2k18 was the year of Cardi B. Here's why.
It’s been quite a year for Cardi B. She took over the hip-hop game and ascended the embattled steps to become New York royalty. While Tekashi 6ix9ine may have spent most of 2018 yelling about how he’s the king of New York, Cardi was, in fact, the illustrious leader of the hip-hop mecca. Hip-hop was birthed in the Boogie Down Bronx, and the potent roots of the culture surrounded a young Cardi. After progressing from adult entertainer to reality television star, Cardi would soon take her final form: rapper. She broke down the gates of Instagram, and asserted herself as a powerhouse with the release of “Bodak Yellow” in 2017. Her raucous, explicit, and resilient personality on social media played a monumental role in lighting the flames under Cardi’s career, while the single acted as a catalyst for Cardi’s queenship in 2018. There is no dispute. 2018 was the year of Cardi B.
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With the momentum of the summer’s “Bodak Yellow” behind her, Cardi B was invited to join Bruno Mars on the remix of his single “Finesse” at the top of the New Year. Teaming up with one of the biggest pop stars in the world introduced Cardi to a whole new audience, and, it confirmed the demand for the loud-mouthed star-- a trend that would follow for the remainder of the year.
Although the hip-hop world was well aware of Cardi coming into 2018, an entire demographic of pop fans and middle-aged music lovers became aware of Cardi through “Finesse.” Just a few short weeks later, Cardi began to smash records. In mid-January, Cardi had five top 10 singles simultaneously chart on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. She was the first woman to reach the accolade. Drake and Kendrick Lamar are the only other artists to accomplish such a feat. Her chart dominance signified more than just streams and record sales. For a female rapper to enter the game and take over top positions in just a few months is relatively unheard of. Not even legends such as Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, or MC Lyte managed what Cardi was able to do in the first quarter of the year. That isn’t meant to take anything away from the prestigious females that came before Cardi. If anything, it showcases the progress of the feminine take over.
Really though: 2018 was the year of the woman. Movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp empowered women around the nation while ideas of feminine sexuality and freedom expanded. Women fought for the right to bare their breasts in public, to exude their sexuality in the same obscene manners many men do, and pushed back against the system that shamed them for revealing their natural carnal desires. In the midst of this movement, Cardi B rose as a powerful figure. A woman strong enough to push her sexuality in the faces of those who would use it to discredit her skill, while still overturning the patriarchy by snatching up records that many expected to fall into the hands of her male peers. If feminists could take the raw, fiery, and rebellious energy within their movement and mold it into a person, it would probably be Belcalis Almanzar.
In March, the Bronx bombshell announced the arrival of her debut album, and dropped off the single “Be Careful.” Invasion of Privacy would arrive in April to the approval of most critics, while Cardi announced her widely speculated pregnancy on SNL just a few days later, giving people one more reason to Google her. A dope album paired with impending motherhood skyrocketed Cardi to the top of the media’s fodder, and by extension, pop culture at large. Bardi Cardi sauntered her way on out to the California desert just a few days later to tear down the Coachella stage. Looking like she was ready to pop, Cardi effortlessly performed a catalog of records. She even earned a belly-rub blessing from New York’s forever-king, Jay-Z. Invasion of Privacy debuted at number one, and 13 of her songs simultaneously charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Several months after the album's release, the single "I Like It" featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin hit number one on the Hot 100 charts. It earned Cardi another accomplishment: she was the first female rapper to achieve two number one records. Meanwhile, her contention with fellow New Yorker Nicki Minaj continued to grow.
The feud between Cardi and Nicki is almost poetic, in a hip-hop sense. Cardi hails from the Bronx, and Nicki hails from Queens. In the 80s, the two boroughs were entrenched in beef, in what has since been labeled the Bridge Wars. The Bronx, led by KRS One, and Marley Marl's Juice Crew, hailing from Queensbridge, battled over hip-hop dominance. History followed a similar narrative with Cardi and Nicki, who have been warring over New York’s throne all year. Fans believed that Nicki took subliminal shots at Cardi on “No Flags” in 2017, and many considered Cardi to have answered back with her verse on G-Eazy’s “No Limits.” The feud reached a boiling point with the release of Migos' “Motorsport” collaboration featuring both ladies.
Cardi and Nicki's back-and-forth continued into 2018, and the media stoked the flames of the feud at every possible turn. Their brawl at the 2018 Met Gala was one of the biggest stories of the year. Although both ladies got dolled up for the event, the night would end with Cardi unleashing her street persona on Minaj. The Barbz chalked this up as a win for Minaj, due to the fact that Cardi left the event with a boisterous knot on her head and Nicki appeared unharmed. Still, Cardi’s willingness to indulge in her OG roots at one of the most prestigious events in the nation only increased her allure. Dangerous and beautiful, gracious yet gangsta, Cardi walked away from the fight with her pride intact.
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Those who would like to discredit Cardi’s success may point to her recent break up with Offset, but that hasn’t stopped her amazing run, nor has it removed her presence from the limelight. If anything, it’s ensured her presence, once again. The two got married in secret late into 2017, and they were inseparable for almost the entirety of 2018. After giving birth to a beautiful daughter, Kulture, Cardi and Offset appeared to be closer than ever. Cardi gave her all to the Migos member and publicly professed her nastiest desires for her man on social media. Cardi was a shining example of loyalty, opting to include her man in conversation without being prompted. Offset was always a priority. Her breakup with Offset shouldn’t be considered an “L” by any means. She reached the pinnacle of pop stardom, married someone she truly loved, became the quintessential Hollywood couple, and had a beautiful baby girl. She lived more in one year than most people live in their life. And just when you thought the relationship drama would drag Cardi down, the Grammys nominated her for five awards. Album of the Year, Record of the Year (for a Latin song, at that), Rap Song of the year, and Rap Performance of the Year. 2018 was Cardi’s year. The rest of us were just watching the show.