Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Cardi B ft. 21 Savage – Bartier Cardi

This one’s for Offset, obviously. (I don’t think he reads The Singles Jukebox, but he should.)


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Crystal Leww: Cardi B and Offset’s endless relationship drama is stuff of Bossip headline legend at this point, but “Bartier Cardi” — presumably recorded before the endless round of leaked videos — makes Offset a central figure front and center in Cardi’s life. Cardi B’s obviously very talented, but it’d be naive to pretend that her relationship with 1/3 of the “Bad and Boujee” superstars didn’t significantly help raise her profile. It’s the endlessly upsetting tale of women in hip-hop in the last ten years: that male cosign is so important to getting that label attention, which ends up getting you that placement on radio and streaming. “Bartier Cardi” is all right; it serves the means of continuing to raise the Cardi / Offset profile higher. But as Cardi’s proven with her megahits “Bodak Yellow” and “Motorsport,” she always just sounds more energized and like herself when she’s bragging.
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Alfred Soto: “Bodak Yellow” got by on charisma and billing. “Bartier Cardi” shows a Cardi who doesn’t sweat the technique, giving 21 Savage the side eye as she eyes the Spotify streams. 
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Maxwell Cavaseno: One-note trap exhaustion as far as beats go, and performances from both rappers where I can’t decide if everyone’s just dealing with a lot of redundant flows and bars or if they’re not particularly trying, since they don’t have to. The issue with Cardi long-term isn’t even that she’s bad at rapping; she’s more than adequate and actually has started to feel a lot less clunky than she was on “Bodak Yellow.” But at the same time, her records are some of the safest and most conservative rap records besides the fact that Cardi’s success means a lot to people for reasons folks can’t clearly explain these days. It’s a shame to have as prominent a female rapper in the industry as her feel so musically uninteresting.
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Ryo Miyauchi: “Bartier Cardi” is very dependent upon your familiarity with “Bodak Yellow” and more so the success it garnered. Even the beat seems to faintly reference that hit’s synth riff. Cardi B doesn’t feel much need to explain her place in pop, but there lies the song’s downfall. This is better as an update of her shopping habits than a rightful sequel to the year’s most ubiquitous hit.
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Leah Isobel: Cardi’s evolution as a rapper is the main attraction here — she once barreled through beats with sheer force of personality, but on “Bartier Cardi” she handles triple-time flows with ease and ably moves from her usual yelp into a throatier, growlier register and back. (For his part, 21 Savage’s verse starts strong and devolves after about four lines, but the beat has enough momentum to carry him anyway.) She tosses rhymes on each other like she’s piling on furs before stepping out on a cold night, and the haughty grandeur of it all is a lot of fun, even if dropping Offset’s name in the hook is a little much.
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Austin Brown: 21 is the best matchup Cardi’s had yet. The problem with “Motorsport” was that Cardi’s relationship to flow isn’t nearly as formalist as Nicki and Offset’s — she thrives in environments where she can highlight the idiosyncrasies of her delivery and tone, using her voice as an instrument not melodically, but theatrically. 21 gets that — his monotone and the lifestyle it communicates (and renders memetic) is the flipside to Cardi’s brash jubilance. This is where I’d insert some requisite line about it being too bad New York rap’s greatest new hope is opting for the brooding sonics of the ATL, but honestly who cares? A pleasurable victory lap for Cardi, and better composed instrumentally (if not as much of a head-turner overall) than “Bodak Yellow” to boot.
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Stephen Eisermann: When someone comes as hard as Cardi came with “Bodak Yellow,” it’s hard not to worry about a sophomore slump. I was really nervous coming in to this song, but I’ve gotta say Cardi once again knocks it out of the park. Self-aggrandizing lyrics are nothing new for Cardi, but when delivered as aggressively as she delivers the lines combined with the natural swag she’s got — it’s a winning formula. The beat knocks, too, which gives Cardi an open canvas to work with. We’re seeing the rise of a superstar and as long as she keeps releasing bops like these, there’s no telling how big she’ll become.
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Joshua Minsoo Kim: Cardi B’s verses here are simultaneously better and worse than before. She has a lot of energy, sure, but it constantly wavers between exciting and tediously forced. Even worse, there’s less consideration for how her flows can progress over time. This makes the technically impressive rapping toothless despite being better than on “Bodak Yellow.” 21 Savage suffers from a similar problem, consequently making him a perfect companion to Cardi. He uses the same tired flow that has been consistently been either appropriately cold or insufferably boring. It’s often his lyrics and production that shape how people read what he’s doing, and both of those elements make him feel superfluous here. His adlibs are especially meaningless, dimishing the commandeering presence that Cardi is fully capable of projecting. Still, “Bartier Cardi” gets enough right to serve its purpose as a follow-up single that prolongs her stay on the charts and in people’s minds.
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Edward Okulicz: Cardi’s bragging is imperious and impressive, but weirdly not that much fun because there’s only so many ways you can brag about dating Offset. Still, she’s relishing her time in the spotlight, and selling herself on her own terms rather than doing something dumb like releasing something slight. It’s nice to hear someone ooze confidence and give zero fucks about anything else, though I wish she had a fuck or two to give about 21 Savage’s terrible and gross line about valuable sperm.
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Thomas Inskeep: Cardi spits fire, 21 is trash, the beat works. She ain’t goin’ nowhere except up, folks.
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Ashley John: Cardi doesn’t take her foot off the pedal for this one. Even with the unrelentingly force moving it ever forward “Bartier Cardi” still talks like she’s conversing with fans on her Instagram story, which is a credit to her natural understanding of language and just her innate likability. If this is her building a sustainable path, she’s even smarter than we all thought. 
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