Friday, February 12th, 2021

Cardi B – Up

The score, the title: it’s Cardi’s Lemonade


Al Varela: She brought back the train sound effect from “WAP”. Cardi B is president of the universe and there is nothing you can do to stop her.

Oliver Maier: The strongest songs on Cardi’s debut generally succeeded because of a) good collaborations and b) her unpolished rapping sometimes working in her favour, as on the outrageous “I Like It”. She’s improved technically since then, enough that she can sell rapid-fire aggression and make ideal use of the space left by “Up”‘s minimal beat (though I think the vocal engineering may also be a contributing factor). Even the hook — grating and repetitive in theory — goes over well, and the structure feels less linear than Cardi’s norm. One of her best.

Thomas Inskeep: We’re about at a point where a Cardi B record is like pizza: even when it’s not great, it’s still alright, and still better than most things. This isn’t great — though I do like the piano chords — but it’s still alright, and frankly, if I turn on the radio, I’d much rather hear Cardi than most other contemporary rappers. But a year from now, this will be a minor note in her discography.

Nortey Dowuona: Cardi slides awkwardly into the drum-heavy beat, its flat-fence synths laid over dull kicks, rippling cowbells and wet slap snares. Heavy bass bounces try to buoy the song, while a loud chant of “I KNOW THAT’S RIGHT!” almost saves it, but is too short and limited to enliven it.

Alfred Soto: That steady heartbeat of a beat! Cardi B sure needs it, for she’s entered the charisma >> inspiration phase of her career. 

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Critics fawn over Cardi’s charisma, but her songwriting has been the strongest weapon in her ascent to fame all along. Not since Usher’s “Climax” (or even Baby Queen’s “Raw Thoughts”) has there been a song that so deftly juggled triple or quadruple entendres. On “Up,” the breathlessly laconic “If it’s up, then it’s stuck” hook could be about dicks, asses, arms on the dancefloor, bank balances, Cardi’s position on the charts, or the song’s rent-free position in your head. It’s to Cardi’s credit that the line is actually about beef with haters — but she sounds so flippant and diabolically joyful you’d never know.

Frank Falisi: Up (Disney-Pixar film) is about how we remember, which is sad and tragic, but remembering means we live(d) or maybe even love(d), which is everything (which is good.) When I hear people my age (citation needed) talk about Up, I’m always curious to see where they fixate; remembering or living. Sometimes I worry that we fetishize remembering, but who knows: it’s tough to live right now. Nothing about “Up” (Cardi B) is fixated on remembering. “Up” is about living, all the time and all ways; “if it’s up, then it’s up/then it’s up, then it’s stuck” is about how living is as good as remembering, how the impermanence of pop is as good as or better than the permanence of memory. Wouldn’t you rather champagne than rhapsodize? Wouldn’t you rather dream of when we can lick and flit than remember how we used to?

Reader average: [3.33] (12 votes)

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