Saturday, June 8th, 2019

Cardi B – Press

“Cardi don’t need more press”, apparently, but surely a little coverage from her favourite independent singles blog can’t hurt…


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Katherine St Asaph: I’m sure I’ll change my mind after hearing her next splashy pop feature, but absolutely relentless Cardi might be my favorite Cardi.
[8]

Andy Hutchins: Pugilism is one of Cardi’s fortes, and keyboard savants Slade Da Monsta and Key Wane outfit her with some stunning ring-walk music on “Press,” with plinking alien transmission synths and a squashed organ that befit their flyweight champ. And when the snares start rattling, this sounds like a wonderful inversion of the Lex Luger trap sound that stomped so a thousand imitators could walk, run, slouch, and so forth. But Cardi’s not really going anywhere, exactly, just shadowboxing the same targets and talking the same shit as ever, and the gunshot sounds that punctuate the hook are distressingly generic for a song that strives to be more. A better prelude than entrée.
[5]

Alfred Soto: On realizing that Cardi wasn’t covering Paul McCartney’s burbling High Reagan wonder, I settled for a manifesto no different in its sanctimony than comparable efforts released from Elvis Costello and Madonna to New Kids on the Block and The Smiths, even if it’s more exuberant in its vituperative spirit. Like “Money,” “Press” entertains the troops with the artist’s tried-and-true while she prepares for the next phase — if she’s got one. This time ’round I savor the pronunciation of “ding DOOOOONG” and a vocal attack that’s like a pistol, ahem, pressed into your gut.
[7]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: This is so ugly and unmusical that it turns those seeming disadvantages into strengths — the fact that you’re listening at all translates into an argument for Cardi’s magnetism. “Press” is not likely to have the same earwormy quality of Cardi’s prior hits — I don’t think sorority girls will be rapping along to it a year and a half on from its release — but it’s certainly a memorable work of pop mythmaking.
[6]

Taylor Alatorre: The indomitable largeness of the production prompts Cardi to up the ante in order to be heard, with the result being that this sounds more like a losing struggle for dominance than a haughty proclamation of one. It’s as if she’s in a shouting match with the beat itself, and it makes this record sound oddly insular despite its outward-facing subject matter. The parts where the beat drops out are placed seemingly haphazardly throughout, without the satisfying build-up that’s needed in order to make the release enjoyable. The only thing here that remotely qualifies as “subtle” is when she briefly imitates Offset’s flow, which should maybe serve as a warning sign of diminishing returns ahead.
[3]

Iris Xie: Cardi B, I’m convinced that you could murder me anytime, and I’ll die gladly and willingly. However, if I was the subject of “Press,” I should know that whatever I did definitely deserved receiving her ire, and whoever Cardi B is pissed about should fucking run for their life. The opening bars sound like slowed-down mutations of The Nightmare on Elm Street, It, and The Twilight Zone theme songs, followed quickly by crouching beats and hostile snare drums as merciful warnings. Cardi B only gives you a few brief seconds before, whoops, you’ve been sent to another dimension. It is a joy to witness this, because in “Bodak Yellow,” her easygoing, sexy, infectious demeanor thinly veils her coiled, simmering preparedness to smash faces to the ground. There is no such buffer in “Press.” Other people talk a big game, but Cardi B has a playful-but-forceful presence that is deeply in tune with her desire to never suffer disrespect and to know exactly where to hit them with all of her abandon. Her attempts aren’t always successful; the chorus surprisingly needs a slightly deeper mockery and a bit more variance in its cadence to match the ugly venom of the verses, which diminishes a song whose short runtime means every line is a valuable currency. Fortunately, this misstep is quickly smoothed over with the final burst of “pop up, guess who, bitch?” that blends her presence with the twofold horrors of jump scares and gunshots. Still, she hasn’t always been this daring; her 2016 track “I Gotta Hurt You” shows hesitation, where the tiny bit of malice gets hidden by goofy EDM trappings. Here though, Cardi B’s wit chameleons to reflect that danger, with the lyric “ding dong! must be the whip that I ordered” displaying her keenness to Amazon Prime whoever disrespects her. (Also unintentionally, this line may be prime as a new meme, utterly destined for queers on Twitter ready to spring “she has a big strap” and “please step on me” references.) Her last repeat of “press, press, press” at the end is more successful in expressing a sly mockery that dissolves into a careless apathy. As for me, I’ve been craving songs that exhibit a willingness to play, exert power, and dive into dangerous, malicious moods, like f(x)’s “Red Light”, because since I’ve been looking for better examples of art willing to fully tap into its dark side, I’ve noticed how often potentially great songs tiptoe that edge but never make the leap. Case in point, “Press,” even with its faults, is what I wished TSwift did with “Look What You Made Me Do.” There, our maligned heroine needed to stop hiding behind the goofy melodies, lyrics, and passivity in order to assert her glorious potential as a full-blown Dark!Taylor. Both stars have such incisive intelligence and are terrifying in their precise perception, but Cardi B is willing to do what Taylor didn’t and takes her punchback at the press all the way to the edge — making better art for it. Her readiness to be that candid, combined with her skill, makes Cardi B a standout. She reminds us that, often, there’s literally nothing to lose beside ourselves in expressing our honest feelings, and that it’s worth the risk, as long as you do the work (and edit afterward.) So, to those hesitant, what the hell are you worried about?
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