Here’s what you can expect.
Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
In just one day, Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy, will be upon us. The album, out April 6, has been months in the making, anticipated ever since Cardi shot to fame after Love & Hip-Hop: New York with the release of “Bodak Yellow,” one of the undisputed songs of last summer. There’s a lot riding on the Bronx native’s first album and, so far, we’ve had more questions than answers: Will Beyoncé be on it? What will it reveal about her rocky relationship with Offset from Migos? Is there really going to be singing? Let’s get into what we know.
It could be argued that there wouldn’t be an album if it weren’t for Cardi’s juggernaut debut single, “Bodak Yellow.” It’s the song that launched her as a phenomenon and it, of course, will be on her debut album.
Her follow-up single, “Bartier Cardi,” will also appear on the album and was just given a luxurious video.
Cardi B is about as multi-hyphenate as they come, so it should surprise no one that her debut album will not be limited to rap. While “Bodak Yellow” and “Bartier Cardi” may have demonstrated her knack for sharp, brazen bars, the album’s third single, “Be Careful,” showcased her ability to carry a song with sung vocals, too.
In a “preview” of the album that was actually a fake-out, Cardi also covered the Cheetah Girls’ “Cinderella” and nailed every note.
But that doesn’t mean the album will lean on the lighter side of her sound. In an Instagram Live, she previewed one potential song off the album that drew comparisons to Meek Mill’s famed rapid fire, anthemic “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, which recounted his origin story. Cardi’s version also appears to be autobiographical, performed at a similarly dizzying speed.
She also shared (but deleted) a snippet of a separate song that could be on the album, a delightful ode to her derriere.
Cardi B and Migos member Offset’s yearlong relationship has been anything but a honeymoon: The two quickly got engaged following months of dating, but a video of Offset cheating with another woman in a hotel room emerged soon after the engagement. Much of the ensuing drama played out on Instagram, with Cardi briefly announcing she was single, but then the two made amends before the dust could even settle on the breakup. It appears Invasion of Privacy will clear up the confusion: The track “Be Careful” is aimed at a cheating partner, though it never mentions Offset by name (as Cardi does in most of her other songs)*. “You want some random bitch up in your bed? / She don’t even know your middle name, watch her ‘cause she might steal your chain,” she sings.
Track titles “Ring,” “Thru Your Phone,” and “I Do” also seem to allude to the relationship. Despite their lovers’ quarrels, Cardi told Beats 1 that she made a love song for Offset to, well, offset the heartache: “I did a love song, and while I was doing the verse I just kept thinking about a couple of months back when me and him weren’t on really good terms. And I was getting really pissed off and really emotional and I was like, ‘Who cares? I got a ring!’”
*Update: In a new Beats 1 interview premiering with her album release, Cardi says “Be Careful” is not specifically about Offset, but her general experiences with men. “No, I wasn’t talkin’ about Offset, I was just talkin’ about things I relate to and that have happened to me … First of all, I heard the record before I even was in love with Offset like that.”
Though Offset might be in the doghouse for some of the album, he will make an appearance beyond just lyrical sublimination. Migos are featured on “Drip,” their second collaboration with Cardi following “MotorSport.” Cardi and Offset share rapping duties on the song’s hook, if that’s any indication that the two are still amicable.
At last summer’s Made in America Festival, the new people’s princess met queen B. Cardi and Beyoncé had a photo op, which then quickly escalated to rumors of a collaboration (fueled by a recording engineer who leaked a photo of the apparent track). Cardi has since claimed that photo was fake, and Beyoncé doesn’t appear on the official track list. (Singer Kehlani also said she and Cardi made “a jam” for Cardi’s album, but she is not on the track list either.) However, in sharing that track list, Cardi noted that there will be “more surprises” on album-release day, so there’s still hope!
Cardi B is half-Dominican and has nodded to her Latinx roots, singing in Spanish on “La Modelo,” her collaboration with Puerto Rican singer Ozuna. She also appeared on the remix to Chris Jeday’s “Ahora Dice.” She previously released a Spanish version of “Bodak Yellow” and sings some Spanglish on “Be Careful,” so it’s safe to assume at least some of the album will be multilingual. Maybe even some Russian and French?
Rumors that Cardi B does not write her own lyrics have dogged the rapper since she borrowed Kodak Black’s flow for “Bodak Yellow.” But accusations that she’s guilty of using a ghostwriter have recently escalated on social media. Following the release of “Be Careful,” a video surfaced of New York rapper Pardison Fontaine rapping the same lyrics to the same beat, leading many to believe Cardi either stole his song, or he wrote it without properly being credited. However, as Complex notes, Fontaine writes under the name Jordan Thorpe and is credited on the song as that name; Thorpe is also credited as a writer on “Bodak Yellow.”
Cardi later responded to a fan who said that the song having 17 songwriters raises suspicion about her writing contributions, explaining in a since-deleted tweet that she has to credit all writers, including anyone whose lyrics she interpolates (more on that below). She also noted that she will go into further detail about the controversy in future interviews*, but that she won’t stand by and allow people to discredit her work.
*Update: Cardi now tells Beats 1 that she did, indeed, purchase the song from Fontaine after he played her a verse in the studio, she fell in love with the song, and they agreed to work on it together. Cardi also says that Hill herself had to hear the song for approval and gave her blessing to clear the sample. “Nobody could talk shit about this record to me because the sensei approved it,” she says.
Some albums are completed months in advance, others are still being fine-tuned up to the minute they hit streaming services (and, in the case of Kanye, even months after the fact). Cardi appears to be taking the latter route, saying on Instagram earlier in the week that she had to fight through a cold in Miami to record one last track she wanted to include on the album. (It’s unclear which was the late addition, or if it even made the cut.)
The music business is a numbers game, and it’s all about strategy. To ensure that an album will do well in sales, most artists and record labels have started to tack on older singles to albums to reap the streaming benefits. (Drake famously did that with “Hotline Bling” and Views.) Invasion of Privacy will, of course, include “Bodak Yellow,” making it instantly eligible for gold RIAA certification (signifying 500,000 albums sold) because of the single’s already-established streaming and sales numbers. (Those numbers won’t, however, factor into the album’s first-week sales.) But shhh, no one tell her it’s going to be big, you’re stressing her out!
When “Bodak Yellow” hit No. 1, Cardi B became the first female rapper to have a solo No. 1 song since Lauryn Hill in 1998. On “Be Careful,” Cardi nods to the history by interpolating “Ex-Factor” on the song’s bridge. What’s more, Hill is given a co-writing credit on “Be Careful” for use of her lyrics (and, in turn, Wu-Tang Clan are also credited, since “Ex-Factor” borrows from “Can It Be All So Simple”).
Cardi B’s rap ascent has been rapid enough that expectations to deliver her debut album and prove she’s more than a one-hit wonder began the second “Bodak Yellow” reached No. 1. For that reason, Cardi has said she took her time to make it perfect, and pushed back the release date multiple times. “I have a lot of pressure on me. I have songs stashed up. I just don’t think they qualified for my album, ” she tweeted last November. “Sometimes I think it’s ready. Sometimes, I think it’s not, so I’m going to take my time till it’s right.” It seems the right time is now.