NEW YORK, April 7, (AP): The anticipation around Cardi B’s debut album has been scorching hot, so when breakthrough artist finally debuted the full album, she told the DJ to make sure the sound level was perfect.
“DJ, make it a little loud ’cause I don’t feel it in my bones,” she said after the second track played, while the DJ worked on the sound.
That’s when Cardi B’s silly and likable personality — which has helped her skyrocket on social media and the pop charts — shined brightly. She went into karaoke-mode, singing some of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” even getting the audience of music industry players in New York City to participate.
But the DJ needed two more minutes.
“Two minutes? What the (heck) I’m supposed to do with two minutes? I’m running out of jokes. I’m running out of entertainment,” she said, then reminding the crowd that she’s performing on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.
Cardi B, the 25-year-old Bronx rapper, released her major-label debut album, “Invasion of Privacy,” on Friday. It comes 10 months after she dropped “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),” the ubiquitous rap song that topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in October, making her one of three females to top the pop charts with a song last year.
When that Grammy-nominated song came up during the listening, she skipped it: “I know you heard it 1,000 times. I put it on my album because that’s the song that made me rich … That song changed my life.”
The next track, “Be Careful,” was released last week and was met with controversy when an older version of the song by rapper Pardison appeared online. Some of the lyrics were directly used on Cardi B’s song and some wrote that she stole the song, though Pardison was listed as a co-writer on the track.
“I don’t know where Pardison is at, but Pardison is a big part of the song. You know, I heard the record and I was like, ‘…I want that record for me. So, you know, I flipped it and I made it into a girl version,” she said.
“Invasion of Privacy” also includes the hit “Bartier Cardi,” while Chance the Rapper, SZA, J. Balvin, Bad Bunny, Kehlani and YG make guest appearances. Cardi B, who developed a following on social media after stripping and appeared on the reality show “Love and Hip Hop,” has also had major success with the songs “Finesse” with Bruno Mars, “No Limit” with G-Eazy,” and MotorSport” with Migos and Nicki Minaj.
“In barely a year this woman has broken so many records. This girl has so many Hot 100 (hits) … She’s worked her (butt) off,” said Julie Greenwald, the chairman and COO of Atlantic Records, home to Ed Sheeran, Missy Elliott, Kelly Clarkson, Coldplay and Sia.
“We are so proud of this album,” she added before calling Cardi B “the first lady of Atlantic Records.”
It’s hard to think of an artist who’s risen as far as fast as Cardi B: She’s become one of music’s biggest stars in just the 10 months since “Bodak Yellow” dropped (and she was already famous thanks to her run on VH1’s “Love & Hip-Hop: New York”). To do that requires not only hot songs but a hurricane-force personality, and Cardi turns hers up every time a camera points in her direction: She’s brash, brazen, ambitious, and delivers it all with a proud, Rosie Perez-level New York accent.
None of which would matter if she didn’t have the talent to back it up: She’s a powerful rapper with a forceful and distinctive flow and clever, piercingly funny lyrics.
But as the media tsunami around the already-gold-certified (thanks to the success of its advance singles) “Invasion of Privacy” amps up even higher — with high-profile appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and the Coachella festival and a week-long cohosting stint on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” in this month alone — the challenge is not letting the hype crush her very promising musical career. Controversy and ubiquity easily lead to overexposure and then backlash, which can make a star fall as fast as it rose. Making that challenge even steeper is the fact that Cardi’s in-your-face voice isn’t the most melodic, and can grate in heavy doses. Whether or not anyone listens to full albums anymore, how to manage that over the course of 13 songs and 48 minutes?
Cardi and her team seem aware of all that, and for her proper debut album (she released a pair of mixtapes over the past couple of years) they’ve compensated with musical diversity, some razor-sharp hooks from A-list producers and cowriters, and unusually long features.
Having said all that, in a couple of cases the featured artists run off with the song so completely that it feels like Cardi is a guest on her own album. This makes for a big disconnect early on, when the empowering opening autobiographical testimonial “Get Up 10” is followed by “Drip,” which is so dominated by “featured” artists Migos that anyone would think it’s their song; it’s weird to hear a personality as powerful as Cardi’s taking a back seat (to her fiance, Migos’ Offset, no less). This happens to a lesser degree elsewhere: Chance the Rapper steals some of the spotlight on his long guest verse on “Best Life,” and Kehlani delivers such a sumptuous hook and guest verse to “Ring” it overpowers the rest of the song.
Still, there’s no question whose album this is. Funny, fierce, and in-your-face, “Invasion of Privacy” is one of the most powerful debuts of this millennium.
LOS ANGELES: More than two dozen Elton John songs have been reinterpreted by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga and Willie Nelson on two albums of past hits released on Friday.
The pop-focused “Revamp” and country-inspired “Restoration” highlight the British singer’s long collaboration with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, which includes enduring hits such as “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man” and “Candle in the Wind.”
“Bernie and myself are thrilled when singers we admire and respect as much as those on ‘Revamp’ choose to add their own unique twist in the process,” John, 71, said in a statement. “It means that our music is still relevant and ultimately that our songs continue to reach new audiences.”
“Revamp” features a hip hop rendition of “Bennie and the Jets” with John, pop singer Pink and rapper Logic; British indie rockers Florence and the Machine perform the soaring “Tiny Dancer;” and Sheeran does a folk version of mourning song “Candle in the Wind.”
“The first time I heard ‘Candle in the Wind’ would have been (Princess) Diana’s funeral,” the 27-year-old Sheeran said in a statement.
“I was six at the time, I remember my dad bringing me in and sitting me in front of the TV and being like this is really important – you have to watch this and you have to remember this,” Sheeran added.
Cyrus, who has roots in country music as the daughter of singer Billy Ray Cyrus, performs on both albums as John handed songs on “Restoration” over to country artists Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Little Big Town, Dolly Parton and others.
“Elton is a deep musicologist,” contributor Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash, said in a statement. “He loves everything from the deepest, most obscure Appalachian songs through George Jones through deep folk music, gospel, early blues.”
John and Taupin began working together in 1967 after they both answered the same Liberty Records advertisement seeking songwriters. They last collaborated on John’s 2016 album “Wonderful Crazy Night.”
Other singers and groups on the albums include Sam Smith, Mary J. Blige, Mumford & Sons, Demi Lovato, The Killers, Dierks Bentley and Emmylou Harris.
“Because of our love of all kinds of music, we’re not stuck in one genre,” Taupin, 67, said in a statement. “From day one we borrowed from everything that’s good about American music.”
Both albums are released through record labels owned by Vivendi’s Universal Music Group.