Cardi B: A Meme, Musician and Celebrity Worthy of The Limelight
Issue   |   Tue, 01/30/2018 - 21:19

A tried and true method of mine for wiping the grogginess out of my mornings is to take a shower while putting on some bangers, or as I recently learned in Miami, “boppers.” In proper English, both mean an upbeat song that gets your body grooving. So, while I was casually dancing and rinsing my hair to “Bodak Yellow” one slow morning, I wondered what made that song so explosive and infectious that it seized the throne of Billboard’s Top 100 with lightning speed. How did Cardi B claim the title of empress of the music industry, the mother of all bangers?

Riding the classic triplet beat characteristic of many trap hip-hop songs are Cardi B’s raunchy lyrics, which encapsulate the charm and nonchalance her social media followers know and love. She’s one of those rare types who never ceases being who she truly is. And everyone, of course, knows this because Cardi B, like any shrewd businesswoman, knows how to market a product. Only in this case, the product was Cardi B.

Beginning with only a moderate fanbase on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, Cardi B showered her followers with unapologetic honesty and overflowing confidence, both of which paired beautifully with her irresistible humor. While still hustling through her stint as a local stripper, she began tirelessly soaking up everything she could about music stardom and unashamedly sharing it. “If your song ain’t playing in the stripclub, it ain’t poppin,” she said. Soon enough, her platforms began exploding with followers.

Her swift rise to celebrity status and growing esteem among renowned artists suggest that she was what we were all looking for. Her almost immediate likeability among millenials resembles the cultural magnetism of well-made memes, which draw in social media users all over the globe. A meme is a humorous depiction of a thought, phenomenon or behavior that most folks can relate to. A living meme, Cardi B captures a popular sentiment or thought and repackages it into something iconic, charismatic and unique. There’s a slew of quotes to prove it.

Take, for instance, one of her infamous sayings: “Ever since I started using guys, I feel so powerful.” Or when she said, “It’s cold outside but I’m still looking like a thottie...because a hoe never gets cold.” If there is a more ribald, charming and hilarious brand of sexual power, independence and control, then unicorns probably exist too.

Amid the fame and flashing lights, Cardi B remains true to her roots. “I’m just a regular, degular, shmegular girl from the Bronx,” she repeatedly states when interviewed. She also hasn’t spared sharing what seem like daily self-reminders when she says, “I think it bothers people when you not out here looking to be accepted by everyone. You just doin’ you and mindin your business. People hate that.” Even with everything uncontrollable, rash and unfamiliar about her, such elements of her success story are what we’d like to see in our own narratives. That’s her power. That’s her allure.