Cardi B, Bodak Yellow, and the Rise of Hardcore Hip-Hop in 2017

Zack Hage, Copy Editor

Amidst new songs by Taylor Swift, Post Malone, and Sam Smith, a new star, Cardi B is emerging in popular music. This is due to her now #1 Billboard Hot 100 single, “Bodak Yellow.”

The trap song, ( first released in June) has slowly but surely become a smash hit, not only due to its presence in clubs, but also taking heavy influence from another recent rap hit, “No Flockin.” “Bodak Yellow” has been noted for borrowing the flow, cadences, and delivery of the 2015 Kodak Black freestyle track and using it for a message of female empowerment. Cardi B’s ideals on this track are particularly fitting when reading about her past, in which she managed to escape a poverty and abuse-stricken life by gaining enough money from stripping.

Cardi B refers to overcoming her past on “Bodak Yellow”’s chorus (“I don’t dance now, I make money moves”), along with lines about a glamorous lifestyle coming off of a new career. Unlike some other modern rap hits, “Bodak Yellow”’s lyrics are mentioned for why people like the song, likely another one of the reasons it propelled to the #1 spot. This doesn’t mean the the song comes without controversy as multiple Woodside students including Audio Production member Mason Moss and senior Miguel Milla expressed their discomfort with the track.

“It’s pretty bad for it to get number one. I’m disappointed because she’s now representing the medium of female hip-hop.” said Mason Moss

“I honestly don’t understand why it’s even on the charts in the first place, it has such a bad beat. ”said Miguel Milla.

Nevertheless, the song is also notable because unlike other female rap hits (such as Remy Ma’s “Shether” or Nicki Minaj’s “Rake it Up”), “Bodak Yellow” hasn’t lead to infighting between other celebrity rap stars. Instead, Cardi has sidestepped dissing anybody specific, and has instead crafted relationships with Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, the latter whose single was surpassed by “Bodak Yellow” on the charts.

“I just want to make music and make money. I don’t really have time to look at other women and what they’re doing. I’m myself,” Cardi told Billboard in an interview.

“Bodak Yellow” is also a female mark in what’s been a record-breaking year for hip-hop. Not only is the song the first solo female rap song to go #1 since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998, but it also joins a plethora of other more “hardcore” rap songs that have taken the #1 spot this year. This is a big difference compared to hit songs of 2015 or 2014, where hip-hop songs that reached the top spot happened to be pop collaborations, and didn’t include lyrics relating to explicit material(s). “Bodak Yellow” proves that hip-hop won’t stop its monstrous run anytime soon.

“I go #1, then she go #1 back to back. You know what I’m saying?” says Offset, a member of the rap trio, Migos, in regards to the song taking the top spot on the charts. (Migos also cracked the top spot with Bad and Boujee in January).