No One Expected Cardi B To Revive New York Hip-Hop

In case you missed it, Cardi B has emerged as an established New York MC. We all know “Bodak Yellow” was monster hit; but any expectation of one hit wonder status were scuppered when her first five charting singles became five of the top 10 Hip-Hop/R&B on the American charts.

Since the invention of Hip-Hop, New York rap fans have developed a haughty superiority due to the city’s influence on the genre since its inception. In the past decade this control has waned, with Atlanta usurping the Big Apple to become the new nucleus of rap. So much so that Desiigner, the last New York rapper to blow, was a Future clone. He’s faded away but the South’s vice-grip continues to resonate.

Then Cardi B came along with her slow-burning “Bodak Yellow” in June 2017, it eventually peaked at number one in America and #11 in the United Kingdom. Cardi B’s nasal, aggressive delivery was reminiscent of the grimy raps that became her city’s trademark in the 1990s. Her style emphasises aggressive delivery with graphic sexual references, akin to early Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim. There’s no Auto-Tune singing, just straight bars.

Cardi B has crested her initial buzz to launch a legitimate career with a string of hit singles; most recently featuring on the remix of Bruno Mars’ “Finesse”. This New Jack Swing-influenced jam comes straight from the 1990s and perfectly suits Cardi B’s raw opening verse.

The hype couldn’t be bigger for Cardi B’s debut album; regardless she still needs to avoid the pitfalls that derailed the careers of Desiigner and Fetty Wap. It wasn’t too long ago that we were lauding Fetty for his unique delivery and hit-maker status. However, his sophomore album has been stuck in development hell since 2016. Much like Das EFX, the genre caught up, and Fetty’s ‘ignorant R&B’ is no longer a unique commodity.

Cardi B is supported by a back-catalogue of serviceable mixtapes unlike Desiigner who struck gold with his first ever song. Cardi B’s boom bap raps feel fresh compared to the Auto-Tune crooning that currently dominates.

Post Malone
Post Malone built a career on Auto-Tune

Relevant New York MCs like French Montana, Nicki Minaj and A$AP Rocky have embraced southern and pop influences. They are some distance from the throwback style of Cardi B. She sticks to Hip-Hop and possess what none has, a solo number one on the US singles charts. Joey Bada$$ incorporates this boom bap delivery but lacks have the popularity to tear up the charts like Cardi B has.

Nobody is running rap like Cardi B and Migos currently are, with the power couple of Cardi and Offset omnipresent. People didn’t expect the overnight success nor the revival of classic New York sounds until it was too late. She earned a Grammy nomination for “Bodak Yellow” and looks set to remain as dominant on the charts.

Cardi B is blazing a trail for female rappers and New York at the moment. She’s carrying the city forward and letting people know that they’re still capable of producing rappers that adhere to the proud template the city created.

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Host of Culture Hash, writer of music, TV and film opinions

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