Album Review: ‘Invasion of Privacy,’ Cardi B

artwork-for-cardi-bs-invasion-of-privacy

Last year, Cardi B captivated America’s attention and hearts with her breakthrough history-marking single, “Bodak Yellow” and her inimitable personality. Her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, is a collection of tracks that perfectly encompasses her dynamic presence.

The album opens with the passionate and gritty “Get Up 10” which is lyrically reminiscent of Meek Mill’s “Dreams & Nightmares.” With a flow that recalls Young M.A., Cardi details her rise to fame over an ominous trap beat. Easily, the most passionate delivery on the album, Cardi perfectly sets the tone for her debut album.

On the two following tracks, “Drip (feat. Migos)” and “Bickenhead,” Takeoff steals the show on the former and the latter is sure to be the new anthem for Cardi’s core audience, it bumps. Next comes “Bodak Yellow” which is still as fresh as it was last summer. Notably, I ranked the Grammy-nominated “Bodak Yellow” the #8 best song of summer 2017 and the #11 best single of that year overall. The immense rush that this track provides makes its successor even more underwhelming, unfortunately. “Be Careful,” the penultimate promotional single for this album, is the worst song on the album. Thematically, the song feels like a diluted “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” the hook is Soft Drake gone wrong, and Cardi’s singing is nothing less than irritating. Finally, the first half of the album is closed by Chance the Rapper collab, “Best Life.” “Best Life” is the token self-motivation and self-celebration track that feels deliciously cheesy. With a strong hook from Chance and lines like “this some real-life fairy tale, ‘Binderella’ shit / I got further than them hoes said I would ever get” and “I took pictures with Beyoncé, I met Mama Knowles / I’m the rose that came from concrete and arose,” “Best Life” is great.

The second half of the album is kicked off by “I Like It,” which includes verses from Bad Bunny and J Balvin, is clearly the next big hit from the album. The song has an irresistible beat, perfect hook, and a smooth flow; both featured acts not only add crossover appeal, but they also add objectively great verses to the track. This could be our new song of the summer. The following track, “Ring (feat. Kehlani),” is criminally short. Kehlani delivers the strongest guest spot on the entire record and this softer, more emotional side of Cardi is one that should be shown more. “Money Bag” is a sharp 180 from the sentimentality of the previous track; it plays like filler but still has a fun vibe and memorable lines. I reviewed the next track, “Bartier Cardi (feat. 21 Savage)” here already, and it’s still pretty good for better or for worse.

The final trio of songs helps end the album on a glorious high note. “She Bad (with YG)” had the potential to be great but with inexcusable corny lines “It’s lit like a lamp/lick you like a stamp” and a lazy hook from YG, even the slick production can’t save this song. The penultimate song on Invasion of Privacy is also the final solo track. “Thru Your Phone” revels in the aftermath of betrayal and relationship turmoil and trauma. Cardi’s singing is surprisingly good on the hook and there is a viscerality in her vocal delivery and the lyrics that strikes right to the soul. It’s wrathful and raw, yet this is probably the most human track on the album. The long-rumored SZA collaboration, “I Do” closes the album. On this song, SZA delivers a biting hook while Cardi spits run-of-the-mill braggadocio that somehow feels fresh.

With an indisputably strong collection of beats but some questionable mixing, on the production side Invasion of Privacy is pretty good. Luckily, lyrically speaking, the endearing and smart lines outweigh the corny lines and Cardi’s delivery nearly saves even the corniest of lines anyway. Invasion of Privacy expands on the Cardi we already know but also showcases her range and versatility. Invasion of Privacy provides more than what one would expect from a Cardi B album while still generally following the expected formula, which is for the better. Take a listen, this just might convert you into a member of the Bardi Gang.

Key Tracks: “Best Life,” “Bickenhead,” “Thru Your Phone,” “I Do,” “Ring”

SCORE: 70

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