Watching Insecure, I often hear the various women I’ve watched it with claim that they are Issa, that Issa is them. The lingo, the social awkwardness, the situations make the content relatable and easy to consume because we feel like the production company secretly followed our everyday lives and found a way to make it visually appealing. If it isn’t us, we know at least one person in our family or sister circle who mirrors Issa’s mannerisms. It’s amazing for us to see a representation of ourselves on the screen, not only in the physical but in the behavioral sense. However, as dope as it is and as much as it may be based off Issa Rae’s real life, the storyline is fictional.
Cardi B. has a similar effect on me, with a narrative that is, of course, reality. I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it. Other than our birth year, Caribbean parents and home state, it’s not like our lives are anything alike. I was very much sheltered and somewhat spoiled by my parents, finessed my academic career with some valedictorian speeches and two degrees from prestigious institutions, and have some blunt and valuable opinions but worry too much about what people think to even utter a word. On the contrary, Cardi had some humble beginnings in the Bronx where she was often left to fend for herself and became a stripper after she got kicked out of her home and lived with an emotionally manipulative boyfriend. She has a certain level of confidence, most obvious in her no fucks given and unfiltered approach to saying whatever comes to her mind, a trait which helped catapult her career from stripper, Instagram celebrity to fashionista and as of Monday, record breaking hip hop female rapper.
After 10 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, “Bodak Yellow,” undeniably the women confidence booster and the anthem of summer 2017, statistically became the hottest song in the country, making Cardi the second female hip hop rapper to accomplish this feat with no feature since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing).” I had just walked out the gym and was in the midst of reading Carmelo Anthony’s farewell letter to New York when my friend texted me the news. I instantly jumped and screamed “OMG” over and over again, the news marinating a bit more each time I said it. Before I knew it, my thug tear, which people barely recognized, had turned into me crying a river as I looked through social media at the congratulations posts she received from fans and fellow peers as well as video clips from her celebratory event at Atlantic Records. The way I felt, nobody could tell me that I wasn’t the one who had the #1 track.
Maybe it was because I called it. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed on April 22nd when I noticed she’d posted a minute teaser of her recording the track in the studio. Just a while before, I’d been listening to Gangsta Bitch Music Volume 2 and had already been impressed by her growth as an artist since her first mixtape…but this track? It was on another level. Her flow was epic and the lyrics: a verbal interpretation of the conversations you have when you’re flexing on the haters. It was the song Issa Rae’s character might have come up with if she wasn’t so passive aggressive. I tried looking up the track a while later when I was referring to the “popping song” Cardi B has and was genuinely confused by its absence on YouTube and other streaming services. Three days later, the single was released and due to my obsession with that video, I had already memorized the first verse.
BODAK YELLOW pic.twitter.com/YuSm7MEdog
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) April 22, 2017
Maybe it was the fact that I knew she would be a star. I’ve been a Cardi fan long before her Love and Hip Hop days and the following she’d built for simply being her authentic self is admirable and necessary in a world where it’s hard to distinguish between real and fake. Not to mention, she’s a smart hustler who is keen to the planning, budgeting and investing that would extend the fortunes of her fame beyond her time in the spotlight.
Maybe it was because I knew how much this means to her. It’s no secret that Cardi had gone through her some struggles in her life. She chose a certain lifestyle that she thought would best allow her to keep her head above water and had to deal with the negative and degrading commentary from judgmental followers and customers alike. Still, she never strayed from her dream of becoming a rapper. She made a bold move leaving a reality show that often serves as a safety net for most of the cast members, just so that her rap career would be taken seriously. She signed to Atlantic Records for the same reason. And when she began to make those “money moves,” she didn’t alter herself and displayed a vulnerability and transparency that expressed to us the struggles of her rise and made us all want her to win. She’s just real and definitely humble.
Or maybe it was because this accomplishment subconsciously spoke to my personal dreams. Seeing Cardi win as much as she has this past year just hits close to home. We’ve literally watched her glow up in all aspects of life due to her dedication, consistency, and hard work…and just knowing that she favors our crazy friends or cousins, talks that New York talk, refers to places only a New Yorker would know and listens and whines to soca and reggae music makes these wins that much greater. If a regular, degular, schmegular girl from the hood of the Bronx, NY can bust her behind and make it, what’s my excuse?
Congrats on your success!!
XOXO, Proud Member of Bardi Gang