Monday, June 18th, 2018

Cardi B ft. Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It

If you’re looking for the sidebar, Cardi, it’s in the other direction…


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Stephen Eisermann: A song that feels like that family party at your tios house, with those cousins who are fucking locos, but you only see once every couple of years so you’re willing to look past their problematic practices. It’s like, yeah, they say some wild stuff that you totally disagree with, but they’re your primos and there’s tequila, y nos quedamos festejando hasta las seis de la mañana, bailando y chismeando todo el tiempo. And then the night is over and you’re in line waiting to cross back at the border, shaking your head at all of the ridiculous shit that was said and done over the weekend, but you can’t help but smile because this kind of Latino magic is just so uncommon in your day to day and it’s good to remember your roots; but, most of all, it’s fucking fun.
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Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: Cardi B’s “I Like It” is perhaps the Latin urban single of the year so far, not only on the grounds of being a banger but on how important it is. It’s important in the sense that Ms. Almanzar is taking over American pop culture and claiming her Dominican heritage while trojan-horsing Latin trap and reggaeton into the hip-hop consciousness. The very sample this track is based around is Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 boogaloo classic,“I Like It Like That,” one of the very first examples of Latin music sneaking its way into mainstream America. Cardi’s boss mannerisms and sheer charisma could easily sell the whole track, but both Boricua Trapster Bad Bunny and Colombian don J Balvin get equal space to shine, the former even referencing the legendary sample’s bassline (Bobby Valentín really was the absolute chingón). This is really one for the culture.
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Julian Axelrod: On paper, this feels like a craven bid for Song of the Summer: from the infectious boogaloo sample to the inclusion of Latin trap luminaries Bunny and Balvin, there’s a wary sense of risk management that “Bodak Yellow,” its unassuming, world-conquering predecessor, lacked. But when I listen to the song, it feels fun and spunky and alive. If this was subjected to focus group meetings, they probably took place at a block party instead of a boardroom. The track is a series of relentless attacks on your pleasure centers, from the bubbling beat to J Balvin’s goofy Gaga line to Cardi’s nearly radioactive levels of charm. One of my best musical memories of the year is hearing “I Like It” in a packed club the day after Invasion of Privacy came out. Somehow everyone already knew every word, and we proceeded to shout it at the top of our lungs. At the end of the day, isn’t that all we want out of a summer banger? Say what you will about the music industry machine, but sometimes their calculations pay off.
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Will Adams: It’s one of those concepts that seems blindingly obvious in retrospect — boogaloo sampled in a thwacking trap song — but everyone involved acts like they’ve just struck gold. And justifiably so; if “Despacito” got the ball rolling on multi-lingual, world-conquering pop, “I Like It” is the flag planted at the summit.
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Nortey Dowuona: A clanging sample of Pete Rodriguez’s “I Like it Like That” swings right into the tingling synths and pumping drums while Cardi strides through it; Bad Bunny hops, backflips and slides over it; and J Balvin creeps in under it.
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Josh Love: Thanks to teeth-rattling bass and Cardi’s endless supply of #winning catchphrases (“I run this shit like cardio” jumps out most forcefully here, though perusing the lyrics opened up my world to the tremendous “Eating halal, driving the Lam'”), “I Like It” somehow manages the seemingly impossible task of salvaging a song that heretofore existed in the popular American consciousness almost exclusively thanks to a fucking Burger King commercial. And it’s only like maybe the fifth or sixth best song on Invasion of Privacy!
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Jonathan Bradley: I was introduced to Cardi through “Red Barz,” and even more than the “bloody moves” of “Bodak Yellow” did, that terse street single’s gang aesthetic rooted her in my consciousness as a tough-minded brawler, steely and ruthless. She is multi-dimensional, however — one of the joys of the “Finesse” remix was the opportunity it offered her to be playful — and “I Like It” accentuates another aspect of her Bronx-hewed personality: her Dominican heritage. Her guests on the track are Puerto Rican and Colombian, and the beat draws from Cuban rhythms, creating a pan-Latinx outlook untied to any specific national tradition — other than an American one, that is. For much of her verse, Cardi’s flow isn’t much removed from her “Bodak” one, but even as a retread, she asserts an easy authority, a preternatural focal point. J Balvin, whose sly insinuations I often enjoy on his own music, struggles to match her; Bad Bunny, however, does just fine. This is a song of elements strengthened through proximity to others that are alternately complementary and conflicting; yes, Cardi is at her best when she’s at her most New York.
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Jonathan Bogart: When, not long after I entered my thirties, I was swimming around in radio pop like I had discovered it for the first time, a song that got spun a couple times on a Phoenix pop station, and maybe the Latin pop station too, sank its hooks into me. It was with distance a fairly silly song, a past-their-prime Cypress Hill plus a not-yet-entirely-worldwide Pitbull, with token respectable performer Marc Anthony belting a hook derived from an old Crosby, Stills, and Nash tune, but I was still a fresh enough listener to all popular music that I had residual affection for “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and was naïve enough to be charmed rather than irritated by the naked obviousness of the flip. When, a year later, I catalogued my favorite songs of 2010, it was still #2, behind only “TiK ToK.” (And I had totally forgotten I Amnestyed it.) It’s in that spirit that, eight years on, I still thrill to the naked obviousness of a beaten-into-the-ground 1960s sample source when Cardi B flips this most standard of boogaloo standards into Latin trap and has two of the biggest and so most demographically advantageous performers of urban Caribbean music jump on it with her. In a year when the fever-swamps of poisonous discourse and xenophobic hatred are way past critical levels, this celebration of a few of three Latinx stars’ favorite things stands out all the more for its full-throated self-regarding glee. Dominican-American Cardi B’s rubbery Bronx vowels rattling off conspicuous consumption, Puerto Rican Bad Bunny throatily moaning the nationalities of ladies he’s into, Colombian J Balvin mumble-bragging that a year later “Mi Gente” remains inescapable — and Pete Rodriguez’s 1966 horn section unspooling curlicues throughout — all add up to possibly the only decent party song yet this year for anyone who knows anything. (Abolish ICE.)
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Reader average: [8.12] (24 votes)

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4 Responses to “Cardi B ft. Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It”

  1. would have loved to see more women on here
    Otherwise this is a great set of blurbs for a great song. I love how the sample is just slightly off-beat and off-pitch – it makes the song feel that much more freewheeling. It’s definitely one of the most fun songs to appear on the Hot 100 this year (as Bogart said)

  2. Just to nitpick Leonel’s statement a little bit: I’d say “I Like It Like That” (and boogaloo generally) is the first time that Latin music *made by US-born Latinos* sneaked its way into the US mainstream. “Exotic” Cuban rhythms from mambo to cha-cha-cha had been fads in the 1950s (that’s how Desi Arnaz got famous long before he married Lucille Ball), and “El Manisero” in 1930 is the canonical first Latin smash hit record in the US. Tango rhythms were even making ballroom-dance waves as far back as 1913, when exhibition dancing was the most up-to-the-minute pop form.

    Not a big deal, of course: I just always want to fight against the pervasive cultural amnesia that says Latin music/culture/people are something new in the US. I’m from the Southwest: they were always here first.

  3. Oh, also, re: the Controversy index:

    Nice.

  4. I forgot to blurb this but I’m so glad everyone loves it as much as I do

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