After months of talk on social media last year that Cardi B‘s star had fizzled out in the two years since she debuted her Invasion of Privacy album in 2018, the 28-year-old rapper delivered two new singles with 2020’s “WAP” and 2021’s “Up” that proved everyone wrong. She’s the brightest celestial body burning in hip-hop’s solar system at the moment. The Grammy Award-winning, Billboard–charting recording artist has been working with producers from far and wide to carry her lyrics to the charts. Even rising producers have been trying to pin down the perfect Cardi B type beat to capitalize off the Bronx rapper’s fame.
In the summer of 2020, the Atlantic Records signee’s “WAP” caused a stir with other rappers, politicians and uptight WASP moms who thought the sexual subject matter of the Megan Thee Stallion-assisted record was too wild. But one of the celebratory aspects of the track is the beat, produced by Ayo & Keyz. The producers used DJ and radio personality Frank Ski’s 1992 Baltimore club banger “Whores in This House” on the song. Al “T” McLaran is the voice on the original track, which is heard throughout “WAP” with a much more stripped-down beat compared to the 1992 version.
This year, Bardi also offered another heater with “Up.” Much like before, confident talk about her sexuality and self-confidence radiated
Ayo & Keyz have worked with Cardi B prior, crafting the beat for her 2018 track “Bickenhead,” which finds them adding reverb on a bassline and incorporating traditional trap drums to the beat. The rapper has also worked with beat architects like J. White Did It, who’s responsible for coproducing Cardi’s 2017 “Bodak Yellow” beat, which helped propel the rhymer to superstardom. It’s a simple beat with variations of drums and dropouts. The repeated keys are what drive the track and a layered sound behind it to give it some more grit.
J’s also been behind the boards coproducing Cardi’s 2018 songs “Money Bag,” “I Like It” featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin and “Money.” “Money Bag,” also produced by Laquan Green, features striking chords that sound like their underwater while “I Like It,” also produced by Craig Kallman, Invincible and Tainy, samples Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 song “I Like It Like That” and pays homage to Cardi’s Latina heritage, and “Money” has those intense piano keys kicking off the track.
Cardi B dances between hard-hitting-produced tracks perfect for the hip-hop space, Latin-tinged efforts and more pop-centered beats like 2018’s “Ring” featuring Kehlani and produced by Needlz, and “I Do” featuring SZA and produced by Murda Beatz, which makes it harder to pin down an exact sound. But one thing her production all has in common is its grit. Her 2018 debut album, Invasion of Privacy, includes a mix of intense keys, big drums, lots of bass and softer-sounding production. Her beat selection also pays tribute to classic songs like Lauryn Hill’s 1998 song “Ex-Factor” on Cardi’s own forewarning “Be Careful,” produced by Vinylz and Boi-1da, in 2018.
As fans and critics await her sophomore LP, here’s a look at some of the Cardi B type beats up-and-coming producers are using to emulate her sound.
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