Cardi B's breakthrough single "Bodak Yellow" has taken the world by storm and made history since its release on June 16th of this year: it is now the second hip-hop single by a female solo artist to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100; a feat previously accomplished by legendary hip-hop great Lauryn Hill nearly 20 years ago. On top of that, it knocked Taylor Swift out of the #1 spot after just two weeks, proving that America has some excellent taste. But that's beside the point because I want to talk to you about why this song is the true anthem America (heck, the entire world) needs and deserves.
Being that the chorus is the very first thing we hear, Cardi B makes it very clear from the start that she is not one to mess around with. With its opening lines:
"Said lil' bitch, you can't fuck with me, if you wanted to
These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes
Hit the store, I can get 'em both, I don't wanna choose
And I'm quick, cut a n***a off so don't get comfortable, look"
Cardi lets the world know that she's reached a point in her life where she can buy TWO pairs of Louboutins. No longer can she look in the window and dream about buying even one pair of the very expensive brand's shoes, because she worked damn hard to be able to afford that luxury. The last line is especially powerful and resonates with many women, including myself because it celebrates women's independence. Cardi didn't need a man to get to where she is today, and she surely doesn't need one now. She lets the guys know that she won't hesitate to drop them if they plan on wasting her time or preventing her from reaching her goals. When you set foot into a nightclub and hear this song playing, the women singing along become increasingly louder when they reach this line. Whether inadvertently or on purpose, this happens for a very good reason, fellas.
Part 2 of the chorus goes like this:
"I don't dance now, I make money moves
Say I don't gotta dance, I make money move
If I see you and I don't speak, that means I don't fuck with you
I'm a boss, you a worker, bitch, I make bloody moves"
Here, Cardi acknowledges her past as a stripper in her native Bronx, NY. While she doesn't need to be a stripper anymore with her success as a musician, she knows where she came from and is proud of her past. The last two lines refer to Cardi's status as a head honcho; a master of the rap game in her own right. She tells her haters that they are below her and if they dare to come for her or disrespect her, there will be hell to pay.
Throughout the first and second verses, Cardi B elaborates on her status as a big-time artist who's topping the charts, performing at awards shows, and booking gig after gig at lightning speed, leaving whatever competition she has to burn in the dust. She wants everyone to know that she has arrived and is here to stay, whether you like it or not. Some of my personal favorite lines come from the first verse, in which Cardi raps:
"Look, I might just chill in some BAPE, I might just chill with your boo
I might just feel on your babe, my pussy feel like a lake
He wanna swim with his face, I'm like, "Okay"
I'll let him get what he want, he buy me Yves Saint Laurent"
I truly feel this part to the core. It perfectly illustrates, from a female perspective, the sexual freedom that women are criticized for again and again while men are constantly praised for; why can a man brag about banging 500 women or getting a blowjob from some random girl he met at the club but when a woman talks about getting the best head ever, it's "immoral" and "nasty"? Cardi B takes that double standard and smashes it into smithereens, unabashedly and without apology. She takes pride in the fact that men want to partake in fine dining, especially in exchange for designer items (at the man's cost). This set of lyrics serves as a big middle finger to society's awful double standard on sex, and this GIF perfectly says it all those who disagree:
A part of the second verse that I would like to examine is as follows:
"I go to dinner and steak, only the real can relate
I used to live in the P's, now it's a crib with a gate
Rollie got charms, look like Frosted Flakes
Had to let these bitches know, just in case these hoes forgot
I just run and check the mail, another check from Mona Scott"
Cardi briefly reflects on living in the projects of the Bronx and interweaves this fact with details of her continual come up: her heavily-bejeweled Rolex, eating the finest steak at five-star restaurants, and owning a gated home. In reference to the very last line before the booming chorus starts up once more, she still gets paid by Love and Hip Hop executive producer, Mona Scott, despite leaving the show in 2015. So alongside the money she's earning from everything she's doing right now, she gets an extra check on the side from the show that helped her become a household name. As far as we're concerned, Cardi B is unstoppable and her reign as one of the greatest modern hip-hop artists is not ending anytime soon.
"Bodak Yellow" is revolutionary and ahead of its time. This song teaches an array life lessons in the course of three minutes and 44 seconds, which is more than can be said for many popular songs on the chart today. Cardi B can be considered a national hero of sorts with her inspiring rags-to-riches story, endless ambition, carefree attitude, and her exceptional craft of weaving words together over trap beats to entertain everyone the world over. Along with Nicki Minaj, I would gladly nominate her for this country's Poet Laureate.