Before she proceeded to display impressive breath control and limberness despite being a pregnant asthmatic during her Coachella (or Boachella as the color red enthusiast and letter C loather would prefer it be called) set, Cardi B treated festival goers to a collage of her stripper days shortly before beginning her performance.
Although her time in the spotlight has been relatively short, the Bronx-bred rapper’s rags-to-riches tale already lives in infamy. Indeed, she started out as a stripper and then became a social media star before ultimately joining the cast of Love & Hip Hop only to promptly exit the show in order to make certain that she is taken seriously as a rapper. Cardi B is taken so seriously as a rapper that her debut album, the already critically acclaimed and record-breaking Invasion of Privacy, has debuted number one on the Billboard 200. However, even if Cardi B continues to acknowledge her past, one thing that felt frustrating in the recent promo leading to the release of her first album was the ways in which other people discuss her stripper heydays.
Take for instance her GQ profile “Cardi B’s Money Moves” in which writer Caity Weaver writes about Cardi B in ways that she might have believed were complimentary, but were off-putting to those of us who know that even though Cardi B owns her sexuality, her rise as a rapper has more to do with her charisma, talent, and ear than it does her body.
Weaver writes, “With the aid of cutting-edge Millennium science, in the form of orbicular breast implants and illegal buttocks injections, America's sudden favorite rapper, Cardi B, has built her body for optimal viewing at medium-to-long-distance range.” While that money-word laden phrasing is fine, I guess, Weaver goes on and on about her body and then makes the following curious assertion: “Though she did not know it at the time, the aforementioned investments in her silhouette would prove the boost that would enable her to scale her first level of fame.”
You know, we live in a visual society and sex appeal matters — certainly in the context of a female rapper whose music references sex here and there — but Cardi B is a force outside of the objectification of her body. Not to mention, there are plenty of surgically enhanced aspiring artists who will never, ever reach the levels of success that Cardi B has achieved. Hyper-sexualization has long been the norm, so good intentions or not, this is a lazy observation and one that says far more about the profiler than the subject or the public presently in love with her and her music.
Speaking of lazy, I couldn’t help but think of Cardi B’s interview on Hot 97 in which for what felt like the millionth time, her stripper days were dissected ad nauseam. Cardi B has answered questions about being a stripper and getting illegal butt shots in the same way on several different occasions. Can we not treat her like the bilingual rapper version of Groundhog Day?
And if you’re going to ask her about it, at least freshen it up. While the likes of Weaver marveled at Cardi B being a presidential history buff, I would have much rather preferred to learn more about what Cardi B makes of the shitty wages you can be paid with or without a college degree. After all, despite whatever our lil’ social media feeds show us, the reality is, most Americans are the living out the Good Times theme song.
There’s a reason Cardi B decided to abandon school and that grocery store cashier job.
Similarly, in terms of what Cardi B probably learned about hip-hop while stripping, it’s not so much the investments in her “silhouette” that provided the boost she needs. Hip-hop — notably southern rappers — often break their records in strip clubs. Cardi B may be from the Bronx, but like many contemporary New York rappers, they lean into southern influences because that’s been the dominant sound for a while now. Why has no one asked her how her days as a stripper influenced the tracks she selected on her mixtapes and albums? After all, if you read about Cardi B in 2016, she made it quite obvious that no matter how much she makes you laugh, she’s a shrewd businesswoman.
Yes, Cardi B got breast implants and butt injections and I’m sure that helped with tips, but it’s her charisma that brought her up on everyone’s radar on social media and reality TV. It was her ear that helped her first gain fans via tracks like “Foreva,” “Washpoppin,” and “Lick” before the masses caught up thanks to “Bodak Yellow.” Now that Cardi B has cemented herself as a rapper, more attention will be focused on her rise. That’s fine, but for all future intents and purpose, do her and the rest of us a favor and do not fixate on her stripper days in this same stale manner.
It is insulting and she deserves better.