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Just two days before “Bodak Yellow” hit the Top 10, Cardi returned to New York to play Mo MA PS1’s Warm Up series in Queens and perform the song for the first time in front of her hometown.If there was any doubt of “Bodak’s” total cultural penetration, thousands spilling out of the space screaming the opening lyrics should have silenced it.In the music industry, attempting to convert such quick work into quicker reward burns out too many up-and-comers before they ever take off, which makes Cardi’s fast-track from local phenomenon to national obsession in a matter of months one of the biggest music stories of the summer. The very next week, Cardi dropped “Bodak Yellow.” It’s the kind of hit typically designed to work for men like Drake, a serial culture vulture, or New York rap guys like A$AP Rocky who’ve closed regional gaps with their Southern influence: The song lifts Florida rapper Kodak Black’s flow (credited in its title) and beat from his song “No Flockin,” and fires off quotables staking out her territory — “Said, ‘Lil bitch, you can’t fuck with me even if you wanted to’” — with barely a breath wasted in between.In May, Cardi’s vitality to the new guard of rap was validated in a BET Award nomination for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist — alongside winner Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj — proof her popularity had already exceeded a spot on ’s coveted Freshman Class (which snubbed her two years in a row.) Cardi had signed a major-label deal with Atlantic Records off the buzz from her mixtapes and magnetic persona, banking on the hit potential of “Lick,” featuring Migos’ Offset (a.k.a. From there, Cardi’s stardom has followed a trajectory foreshadowed in her independent-woman ethos: In mid-June, Remy Ma had Cardi B perform the classic women-only anthem “U. Its video, released shortly after, places Cardi in Dubai — when she’s not riding camels in the desert, she’s sitting on a throne. 78 sleeper on the charts has since jumped 70 spots in less than two months, largely credited to a deftly executed media blitz.
Shortly after performing with Drake, internet sleuths dug up old tweets where Cardi used a transphobic slur, and accused her use of the term “roach” as colorism toward darker black women.
When her male peers tried to discredit her popularity as the result of reality-star fame or her past as a stripper, rather than skill, Cardi hit back in May, saying, “Just because I used to be a stripper does not mean that I’m not fucking talented, my nigga.