Money Bag: Cardi B Strikes Gold Overnight With 'Invasion Of Privacy'

Culture & Entertainment

"I could buy designer, but this Fashion Nova fit." - Cardi B, "Money Bag"

"Do it for the culture" is a phrase we use frequently but Cardi B actually did that. The Bronx rap star started stripping to escape a relationship with an abusive ex-boyfriend and move out on her own. In 2014, she took the internet by storm and rose to prominence by sharing her flamboyant 'no filter' personality via Instagram.

VH1 quickly jumped aboard the Cardi B. bandwagon and added her to their roster for Love and Hip Hop: New York, where she became the meme queen and continued to dominate our social media feeds.

After years of grinding and booking her own tours, in 2017, she dropped her debut single "Bodak Yellow", which broke a number of industry records, and the world was shook. Cardi got a bag, fixed her teeth, and recently dropped her debut album Invasion of Privacy, which was certified gold overnight.

The nationwide celebration of Cardi B. is a symbol of the impact that women of color have on pop culture and culture in general. Women like Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, and Nicki Minaj have set the standard and actively combatted the misogynoir culture that is heavily prominent in the rap game with the message of sexual liberation and free agency for women.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Cardi touched on owning her past as what gave her her present:

"People say, 'Why do you always got to say that you used to be a stripper? We get it.' Because y'all don't respect me because of it, and y'all going to respect these strippers from now on. Just because somebody was a stripper don't mean they don't have no brain."

For years, women in the hip-hop industry were limited to roles of sidekick or video vixen. Nevertheless, women used the overtly sexualized roles in which society had cast them to create a platform for female lyricists and patrons alike.

"Bodak Yellow" is to millennial women what "U.N.I.T.Y." was to the women of 90's.

These songs weren't just a couple of sick bars strung together for a cute video, they were anthems for women of color that were previously voiceless. Though the songs carry two completely different vibes, their message is the same. I am powerful woman, my p*ssy is mine, and you will respect that. Doesn't that sh*t just make you want to burn a bra or something? It's empowering, and it further solidifies the cultural significance of female rap artists and their impact on a larger culture.

Cardi B, Queen Latifah, Nicki Minaj, Trina, and a number of other women in the rap industry have taken the initiative to reclaim the overtly sexualized narrative surrounding black women, triggering the feminist progression of an entire culture. These women say:

"I am a sexual being but my sexuality is not yours. I have a right to my privacy, my agency. I'm not a boss b*tch. I'm a boss, b*tch. My agency is mine."

Cardi herself stressed the importance of that agency in an interview with Vibe:

"I may not be your typical. Who's to say that I can't inspire a woman who works at a Fortune 500 company as much as she inspires me? I think that's important to know."

Cardi's album includes features from superstars like SZA, Kehlani, Chance The Rapper, YG, and 21 Savage. I've had the album on repeat since last night. Coming from the resident Hip Hop head at xoNecole, I can confirm that issa bop! She told Beats 1:

"I am so grateful for everybody that decided to be on my album because as an artist, I know how busy artists are. For them to take the time and do it exactly right. Everything came out how I wanted it to come out. Perfect hooks, perfect verses. It was just like 'Jesus loves me, I must have done something right in my life.'"

Even if you don't particularly love Cardi's style of music, you cannot deny her power.

She gave us some dope ass captions for the summer and she is symbolic of the influence that women of color have on millennial culture, and honey we are here for it.

Featured image by Giphy

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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