Every Cardi B Single, Ranked
We reviewed the back catalogue of one of the biggest names in hip hop to bring you all of Cardi B's best songs, ranked; from "WAP" to "Cheap Ass Weave" and literally everything in between.
Cardi B burst onto the scene just when the world needed her. As society paints celebrity culture with a hyper-glossy, sickeningly palatable coat of ‘realness’, Cardi broke the mould by showing a semblance of what reality actually is. She wasn’t afraid to reveal her flaws and she wasn’t ashamed of a past many sneered at. She was confident that she deserved first-name (plus one initial) recognition and all that comes with it.
Like clockwork, three years after her breakout single, Cardi B is once again dominating many facets of pop culture. Now, with the album cycle for the follow up to debut album Invasion Of Privacy, we decided to go through and rank every single the trailblazer has – as a lead or co-lead artist – ever released.
20. "Bartier Cardi" (feat. 21 Savage)
It’s just boring. I’m sorry, it just is. Both of these rappers can do, and have done, far better. Following "Bodak Yellow" up with this, let alone putting it on the Invasion of Privacy album at all, is a damn shame. Not that the disjointed verses, the woozy slur of 21 Savage or the lazy beat hurt Cardi’s career in any real way, but "Bartier Cardi" still exists. And knowing what Cardi has achieved both before and since, that’s painful enough.
19. "Please Me" (with Bruno Mars)
The "Finesse" remix is better. They know it, we know it. Let’s move on.
Watch the music video for "Bartier Cardi" from Invasion of Privacy below...
18. "Lick" (feat. Offset)
Honestly, the peaks and valleys of Cardi’s vocals through the chorus of this track, from mixtape album Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2, might give someone nausea. Cardi is at her best when she is spitting her verses at hyperspeed. Her passion and fire shine brighter, and it sounds like she’s essentially daring you to doubt her. "Lick", on the other hand, can be dreary and slow at times, and perplexing at others. When a Migos member – kings of the mumble rap – is firing bars at a higher rate than you, you know there’s a problem.
17. "Yes" (with Fat Joe and Anuel AA)
Sometimes, when a Cardi B song is sub par, it’s not her fault but the fault of those she’s on the song with. This ... is one of those songs.
16. "Ring" (feat. Kehlani)
Cardi has often expressed her love for early 00’s R&B, and "Ring" is a culmination of that love. It’s wavy and affectionate, the closest we’ll probably ever get to a Cardi B ballad. Kehlani’s silky vocals lacquer the song in gold, but it overall still feels a little rusty. In a discography that is all about immediate impact – in whatever form that takes – "Ring" leaves something to be desired. Cardi’s words speak of digitally-induced anguish paranoia, but her delivery seems more inconvenienced than distressed. She’s almost there, but just misses the mark.
15. "Pull Up"
If nothing else, at least we know that Cardi is a ‘does what she says and says what she does’ type rapper. Good for her.
14. "Drip" (feat. Migos)
The problem with "Drip" isn’t that it’s a bad song, because it’s not. It’s just not Cardi B’s song. She gets overshadowed purely because that there’s three of them and there’s only one of her. She’s not the lead artist here, and ultimately she falls by the wayside. This is a shame because Migos have proven themselves to be excellent features time and time again, but for whatever reason, Cardi just seems to introduce the trio before letting them do their thing. Too many cooks in the, admittedly hot, kitchen.
13. "What A Girl Likes"
It sounds like what 2012-era Iggy Azalea was trying to do, but "What A Girl Likes" is actually done well. It fuses more snap and electronic elements than we’ve ever heard in a Cardi B song, and she sounds perfectly at home in that world – even though that world really isn't hers.
12. "Cheap Ass Weave"
Cardi B’s debut single "Cheap Ass Weave" shows promise. She struggles to ride the beat in some parts, but does it like a pro in others. Her voice feels like it is quivering with some delivery, yet demonstrates cement-like sturdiness in other parts, the same type the world loves her for today. There’s a lot of rough in "Cheap Ass Weave", sure, but there’s a hint of diamond underneath.
Watch Cardi B and Bruno Mars music video for "Please Me" below...
Since her breakout, a lot of Cardi B songs have centred around her newfound celebrity. Sure, she’s enjoying a lifestyle few get to, but she often seems stunned by the cons – the intense microscope she’s held under, the way the entire world now feels entitled to judge and comment on her life. "Press" is Cardi reaching her limit – she’s had enough, and that frustration and fatigue shines through. As a “normal” person, Cardi never had to hold her tongue, now she exists in a world where strict appearances and stiff upper lips are the norm. She played the game for a little bit, before breaking free from those restrains and getting back to the authentic Cardi.
10. "Stripper Hoe"
Part of Cardi’s revolutionary persona has come from her forthright and healthy spotlighting of sex workers, namely strippers. Much to the dismay of white media everywhere, Cardi doesn’t see her ex-job as something to be ashamed of – instead, she sees it as empowering, a part of her story that led her to where she is today. "Stripper Hoe" is that sentiment encapsulated.
9. "Bronx Season"
Pre and post-"Bodak Yellow" Cardi B are like night and day, but some of her earlier work deserves some respect too. In "Bronx Season", Cardi is clearly ready for a breakout, while still trying to find her distinct sound the world now knows her for. In this track, Cardi delivers a husky flow akin to that of Lil’ Kim or Foxy Brown, who both also hail from New York City. There’s elements of nostalgia at play, too – it's felt in the rough beat and in Cardi's own reminiscing on her past – but Cardi still makes it sound fresh.
With a cyclic beat that’s shooting hundreds of rounds a minute, "Foreva" is meant to intimidate. Catchy enough to leave you hooked, but dark enough to leave you paranoid. She’s letting a hater know to choose her battles, because Cardi is armed and ready for war.
More than anything, "Money" shows how much Cardi can do with so little. The beat, while catchy and thumping, is barely there at all. "Money" puts Cardi alone in the spotlight, with almost nothing to help her, really amplifying her ability to command attention.
Now this should’ve been Cardi B’s debut single. The statement, the catchphrases, the almost immediate assertion that she is multifaceted – something she's still reminding critics (see: conservatives) of. It has the elements of comedy from her viral Vine days, but it doesn't come at the expense of her cadence and sharpness.
5. "Motorsport" (with Migos and Nicki Minaj)
It’s a shame that this song culturally serves as a pretext to the genesis of one of the most highly-publicised rap beefs of recent memory. It’s a shame because "Motorsport" is so, so good and shows all five people on the song playing their role and doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. Having the two biggest female rappers on a song together is one thing, having them blow the three other men out of the water is another. But having both of them deliver some of the strongest verses of their career thus far is what, in a perfect world, "Motorsport" would be remembered for.
Watch the video for one of Cardi B's biggest hits, "I Like It", below...
4. "I Like It" (feat. J Balvin and Bad Bunny)
If Invasion Of Privacy’s lead single, "Bodak Yellow", was an announcement that Cardi B has arrived, then "I Like It" is the welcome party. Equal parts chaotic and meticulous, "I Like It" served the exact purpose it intended: global domination. And it didn’t just dominate because it’s a great song with an uncontainable amount of fun, it dominated because it feels all-inclusive. It feels reflective of the melting pot of both Cardi’s upbringing and the music world she's at the centre of. Bad Bunny comes through with his impossible sensuality, with J Balvin revelling in his success, but Cardi is at the helm of this party, and the next round is on her.
3. "WAP" (feat. Megan Thee Stallion)
It’s only been out for a few weeks and it’s already clear that, among all of 2020’s bullshit, Cardi B's new song, "WAP", is going to be the quintessential song of the year. Its incredibly explicit and hypersexual celebration of Black femininity is something the top end of the charts hasn’t had in a long time – not since Lil Kim’s heyday. It’s a timely and opportune new Cardi B song that capitalises on women’s domination of hip-hop over the past few months.
The impact of "WAP" has spread far beyond the music industry. It’s dominating all parts of pop culture, including politics. And while a lot of that has to do with its lyrical content and broader implications, much of it also comes from how Cardi B and Megan Thee Sallion bounce off one another. Cardi’s delivery is staccata and punchy, while Megan’s is rapid-fire and breathless. It’s a masterclass in collaboration – chipping away at the harmful narrative of forever-feuding female rappers – and it’s a song we’ll be talking about for years to come.
2. "Be Careful"
‘Subtle’ isn’t exactly the most appropriate word to describe Cardi or her music. She’s explosive, high-voltage and commands your attention, no matter who features on the song or music video with her.
But subtlety is exactly what makes "Be Careful" so good. The dark disquiet and understated danger that creeps throughout the song, as Cardi stands there with a wry smile ready to spit her weaponised words at any moment and without warning. She’s always assertive and fiery, but the delicate and muted way she approaches "Be Careful" makes her seem more serious – and more threatening – than ever. The song is one big warning letter; with each breath she takes she plots another way to exact her revenge to he who dare wrong her. Hell hath no fury like Cardi B scorned.
1. "Bodak Yellow"
There’s a blaze that lies within Cardi B; it's evident in everything she does. Even in her weaker songs, she still spits with some conviction, finesse and aggression. The conviction comes from being self-assured in her own talent. The finesse comes from years of working on her craft across various landscapes. And the aggression comes from knowing that she is always destined for more.
All of those things come to a beautiful, sharp and platinum-plated head in Cardi B's best song, "Bodak Yellow".
There’s not much to say about "Bodak Yellow" that hasn’t already been said – defining song of the decade, one of the best songs of 2017, a trailblazer for the surge of female rappers that are dominating the charts in 2020 – but it’s also so much more than all of that. Bars breathlessly roll off Cardi’s tongue with ease, in a sort of metaphor for Cardi’s mission to prove herself worthy of success and glory. She’s done strutting, so instead she springs in her bloody shoes over almost every rapper out there that she single-handedly bodied in her breakout song, without so much as a stumble.
It’s rare that an artist’s breakout song can go on to define genre, style and decades. "Bodak Yellow" did that, and then some. Its legacy is storied and vast, and it has only just begun. Cardi B wanted to prove herself worthy of success and glory, yes, but deep down, she already knew she was.
Main Image Credit: "WAP", Atlantic Records
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