Just under two years ago, Normani managed to stop the music world in its tracks with her debut solo single, “Motivation”. It was nothing short of an absolute moment. Showcasing dance moves we haven’t seen from an artist in years, and intricately infusing elements of both pop and early '00s R&B music, “Motivation” provided an incredibly strong foundation to springboard the next big pop star into the stratosphere. Then, for almost two years, she’s been virtually silent with the exception of last year’s “Diamonds” with Megan Thee Stallion.
But, with help from Cardi B, Normani has returned in full form and in glorious fashion – proving the wait was worth it.
“Wild Side” is an incredibly sensual R&B jam, more akin to her work with Khalid and 6LACK. Normani delivers her silky verses with serenity and precision, sizzling with temptation and allure with every breath. She never leaves a moment unmilked; her voice masterfully floats along the song’s subtle yet thumping production – sampling fellow R&B goddess Aaliyah’s 1996 hit “One In A Million”.
Cardi B slides in with ease. While the larger-than-life rapper is usually known for larger-than-life music, “Wild Side” is beautifully restrained and Cardi’s roughness matches it perfectly. Building off what she teased on her own 2018 track “Ring”, alongside Kehlani, she offers a muted version of her signature aggressive rap style, delivering lines that almost reach the levels of explicitness she hits in “WAP” – the video for which, of course, stars Normani.
Speaking of working with Cardi on the track, Normani said in a press statement, “I had already been in rehearsal for about three weeks preparing for the video when Cardi heard the record for the first time. She really showed up for me and brought this record to life by simply doing what Cardi does best. I love that woman down and I’m forever grateful”.
Much like “Motivation”, the video for “Wild Side” is as important to the artistry of Normani as the song is. Offering a contender for one of the best music videos of the year thus far, the video shows Normani dancing like no other popstar can. Her moves, choreographed by Sean Bankhead, are strong, rapid and laser sharp, and she does it in an array of settings – a decked-out crimson den, a brutalist rooftop, a helicopter cockpit and surrounded by mirrors just to name a few.
“Wild Side” may have dropped two years after the release of Normani’s last lead single, but this artist’s star power hasn’t dimmed in the slightest. In a pop landscape dominated by TikTok fads and minimalism, Normani reminds us that there’s value in simply being exceptional.
Normani’s “Wild Side” with Cardi B is out everywhere now. Catch the music video below.