Cardi B seemingly came out of nowhere with her thick Bronx/Dominican-accented charm, hilarious sound effects and playful, bodacious personality.
She’s easy to like. She is bringing the irreverent, fun-loving spirit back to Hip Hop, bringing it full circle to the easygoing way it began from the borough that birthed it.
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She, along with Bronx-born Remy Ma and Queens-born Nicki Minaj, form the trifecta of women that have brought New York rap back to the top of the heap. And some believe with bringing back NY-style, they are bringing back some of the purest elements of a genre that has become saturated with mumble rappers and one-hit wonders.
"They brought back battle rap," said Bowlegged Lou, a member of the group Full Force who first found a teenage Nicki Minaj and shopped her to labels.
And battle they did, old-school Queens and Bronx style.
The beef between Nicki and Remy started in 2007 when on Nicki’s mixtape, Playtime is Over, she rapped: “Tell that b**ch with the crown to run it like Chris Brown," over a beat from Terror Squad's "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah."
Soon after Remy was convicted on assault, illegal weapons possession and attempted coercion in connection with a shooting. She served eight years. But all that time served didn’t quell her anger.
In 2017, she released "Shether" a battle rap talking about Minaj's fake butt and her brother who had been accused of sexually assaulting a child. Minaj didn't immediately respond in the way a true battle rapper would.
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Instead, two weeks later she released a song with Lil' Wayne and Drake entitled "No Frauds," which sold 78,861 copies during the first week of its release debuting at #1 on R&B/Hip-Hop sales charts and #14 on the US Billboard 100.
"Heard your pu**y on yuck, I guess you needed a pap," Nicki rapped referring to Remy's husband Papoose.
Old school Hip-Hop fans weren’t impressed with the length of time it took Nicki to respond, but her business acumen couldn’t be denied.
No Frauds (Official Video) https://YMCMB.lnk.to/NickiDrakeLilWayneNoFraudsYD Follow Nicki Minaj: https://twitter.com/nickiminaj https://facebook.com/nickiminaj https://www.mypinkfriday.com Music video by Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne performing No Frauds. © 2017 Young Money/Cash Money Records http://vevo.ly/hrhQfW
Remy would have the last word when she won the 2017 BET Hip Hop award for best female Hip-Hop artist after Nicki had a seven-year straight run winning it.
“Ya'll b**ches got fat while we starved/Shots in your ass, pads in your bras," she rapped on stage when she accepted the award. "Ya'll some liars it ain't no facts in your songs/And yeah, that crown is coming back to the Bronx."
It makes sense that three black women in the times of the #MeToo movement, a movement started by a black woman, Tarana Burke, are speaking truth to power, abandoning tradition and living their best lives are the ones bringing in the numbers for sales in Hip-Hop. And they are doing it amidst dealing with real lives: pregnancies, miscarriages, break-ups, and make-ups.
Cardi B’s debut single, “Bodak Yellow”, reached number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making her the second female rapper to ever do so with a solo. Lauryn Hill was the first in 1998.
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Bodak Yellow eclipsed Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” to become the top song in the country.
Remy Ma is one of only five female rappers to top Billboard 100 chart with the single “Lean Back” with Fat Joe which earned a Grammy nomination.
Nicki is the most successful of the three with a net worth of $70 million, compared to Cardi’s $4 million and Remy’s $3 million. Nicki is the biggest female in Hip Hop, a top pop star and has achieve success in R&B as well. Her second studio album, Pink Friday, Roman Reloaded debuted at number one on both the Billboard 200 and the UK charts. She has 10 million in record sales and 5 million in downloads.
There are less whispers of ‘so and so wrote her rhymes’ for these three millennial women in the ways Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown had to endure the sexist assumptions and rumors.
Music video by Terror Squad performing Lean Back. (C) 2004 Universal Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
Nicki and Remy have been schooled by Hip-Hop’s golden age. Nicki was discovered by Full Force, groomed by Big Fendi and made by Lil’ Wayne.Big Pun discovered Remy Ma and Fat Joe took her under his wing.
Cardi and Nicki used millennial means to get their talent noticed; Nicki, after signing with Full Force, rapped in a quartet called The Hood$tars composed of Lou$tar (son of Bowlegged Lou) and Safaree Samuels. After splitting with them, Bowlegged Lou urged her to put her music up on MySpace which got her signed to Dirty Money Entertainment for a short contract before Lil’ Wayne discovered her.
Cardi B became an internet celebrity via Instagram discussing her life as a stripper. Her hilarious personality earned her an appearance as a regular cast member on Love & Hip-Hop: New York, and eventually a label deal with Atlantic Records.
Like Beyonce, they are showing the ways in which women can wield power in an entertainment industry that has a history of discrimination, particularly towards black women. And they have done it by exhibiting their full humanity: mistakes, vulnerability, anger, humor and sexuality without fear of consequences.
Cardi B reveals why she chose to confirm pregnancy rumors during her Saturday Night Live performance, reaffirms her Twitter love for Chrissy Teigen and teaches everyone how to use her popular catchphrases correctly.
Nicki called out Miley Cyrus for her appropriation of black culture, a month after the MTV Video Music Awards, saying “The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.”
But what she said in the heat of the moment on the MTV awards was more succinct and in the spirit of these three black women rappers who have brought the essence of NYC Hip Hop back into the spotlight.
“Miley, what’s good?” Nicki asked, speaking into the mic and looking directly at Cyrus. MTV bleeped out most of what she said next, before she finished by saying, “Don’t play with me b**ch.”