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The Significance of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”

If you pay any attention to popular music, you’ve probably heard a new rap song on the radio, and you might have even rapped along to a well-known line: “I don’t dance now; I make money moves.”

With the song, “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi B has risen to number one on music charts, becoming the first female rapper to top the charts without features in 19 years. The last to achieve this feat was Lauryn Hill with “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998. Though a slew of female rappers has made hits in the nearly 20 years since Hill’s hit, not one has managed to top the charts alone. According to NPR, Cardi B is only the fifth female rapper to ever have a number one song. Besides Lauryn Hill, other female rappers collaborated with other artists on their popular songs: Lil’ Kim (with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and P!nk), Shawnna (with Ludacris), and Iggy Azalea (with Charli XCX).

Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, has her own Cinderella life story that has culminated in her debut success – her past is even referenced in her iconic lyrics. Growing up in poverty in the Bronx, Cardi B first began a career as an exotic dancer at 19 years old to escape an abusive relationship. She gained a following on the Internet through Instagram and Vine, quitting her stripper career to become a social media influence and later, a reality star on the VH1 show, Love & Hip Hop: New York.

Cardi B left the show to focus on her music and dropped two mixtapes in a year before signing with Atlantic Records, the hit-dropping company that boasts Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, and many others under its name. At last, she dropped her first single on the label, “Bodak Yellow,” at the beginning of the summer. Within a few months’ time, the song began climbing the charts, finally knocking down Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” last week to sit at the coveted first position.

Fellow female rappers congratulated Cardi B for her historic accomplishment. “Congratulations to a fellow NEW YAWKA on a RECORD BREAKING achievement,” Nicki Minaj gushed over Twitter. “Bardi, this is the only thing that matters!!! Enjoy it.” Similar Tweets came from Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliott.

“Every single female rapper congratulated me today,” tweeted Cardi B herself at the end of the day. “[It’s] the best feeling ’cause I listened to ALL OF THEM.”

Other musicians aside from female rappers honored Cardi B as well. J. Cole praised an interview in which Cardi B said that she was struggling with her debut album after the popularity of her first single. “Don’t put all that pressure on your album,” he said. “You already won. Just drop & repeat.” Janet Jackson, currently on tour, also recognized Cardi B’s accomplishment by performing a cover of “Bodak Yellow.”

In a genre usually dominated by men, it is significant for another female rapper to add a top hit to the small but growing history of rap music. Cardi B’s debut album is set to release in October, and if you haven’t yet heard the song everyone’s talking about, you can listen to “Bodak Yellow” and watch its music video here.

Featured Image by Eirik Solheim on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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