Cardi B drops records and takes names
WOMEN IN HIP HOP GET NOTORIETY
Cardi B is one of the few women to successfully monopolize the market on Instagram fame and use reality TV to garner her hip hop career. Born Ballcalis Almanzar, the bronx-born rapper signed to Atlantic Records after choosing to pursue her love of music. Her career began when she started to gain an enormous social media following for her rambunctious, down-to-earth, and often humorous personality.
Earlier this year, Almanzar debuted her single “Bodak Yellow.” The track started climbing its way through the slots on the Billboard 100 until it finally reached the number one spot, beating out Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.” With the huge success from “Bodak Yellow,” Almanzar has racked up numerous titles and awards such as Best Female Hip Hop Artist and Best New Artist at the 2017 BET awards.
When Almanzar won the number one spot on the Billboard 100, she became the second female rapper to top the Hot 100 without the accompaniment of another artist. This title previously belonged to Lauryn Hill with her song “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998. Additionally, Cardi B is only the fifth female rapper to lead the Billboard 100 at all.
Cardi B joins the ranks of Kehlani and SZA as one of the few women of color in rap and R&B to receive global recognition in the music industry. However, considering that Almanzar went neck-to-neck with Taylor Swift for the number one spot, this demonstrates the rise and popularity of females in the music industry—and more importantly, the recognition of non-white female musicians in general.
The fact that a woman of color currently takes the lead in the rap industry speaks volumes in of itself. Within a historically male-dominated field, Almanzar has demonstrated that she can break the boundaries and blur the seemingly concrete lines between gender and rap music.
Misogyny seems to have become a part of rap culture; the objectification and exploitation of women in rap lyrics and music videos is commonplace. The idea that “sex sells” has become a routine practice, not just in rap culture but also in the music industry overall. There have been women who have prevailed over these stereotypical female portrayals and have triumphed over the musical patriarchy. Take rapper and actress Queen Latifah, who made history when she won a Grammy for her ground-breaking hit, “U.N.I.T.Y.” in 1995. Hip hop’s pioneering feminist MC Lyte became the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988s critically acclaimed Lyte As A Rock. Beyonce, who won six Grammys in 2010, including Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, has received the most accolades that any female has ever taken home in a single night.
Almanzar has put herself on this list with “Bodak Yellow,” a song that has both broken from societal norms as well as broken records. Her work begins to deconstruct these dominant, misogynistic themes by placing women on a more genuine pedestal, praising women who run their own lives and make decisions that put themselves on top. Almanzar also strives to be a more positive role model for the young girls and women that have begun to admire her.
Cardi B has opened doors for women overall and especially women of color in the rap industry. Hip hop (among other genres) has had a sordid history intertwined with misogyny and the overall mistreatment of women. However, with musicians like Almanzar taking the reigns, there may be hope for a new generation of hip hop.