Cardi B and the "B" is for Both
Cardi B has collected many rightful titles. Her first single,“ Bodak Yellow,” released under Atlantic Records ascended to the top of the charts becoming the first solo woman-fronted rap single since Lauryn Hill's 1998, "(Doo Wop) That Thing.” Cardi the Record Smasher. Cardi B and ⅓ of the Migos trio, Offset, engaged on October 27, after Offset proposed to her during the Power 99 Powerhouse concert. Cardi the Record Smasher soon to become Cardi the Wife. At this year’s IHeart Radio Awards, Cardi took home the Best New Artist and Best New Rap Artist award. During her acceptance speech for Best New Hip Hop Artist, amongst the thank you’s and ohkerrr’s Cardi let the world know that her long-awaited debut album would be dropping next month. That, however, didn’t seem to get as much attention as her dress. The Boogie Down Bronx Bae is a favorite of many high-end designers (Laquan Smith, Moschino, Alexander Wang, just to name a few), and on the IHeart stage, she wore a burgundy Christian Siriano dress straight off the runway. The piece featured a plunging neckline and a tutu skirt that started right under her chest and billowed out as she excitedly moved across the stage. It was a perfect choice for the carefree spirit, but it was also perfect for hiding a possible baby bump.
Rumors of Cardi B being pregnant began to swirl around February during the SuperBowl. The artist appeared at the Maxim Party over Super Bowl weekend, and sources say that members within her camp (I hope she fired every single one of them) told some employees at the venue that Cardi couldn't drink because she was pregnant. Cardi has denied all pregnancy claims, telling her Instagram followers, that she’s “just getting fat” and that we should, “let her fat in peace.” For the past few weeks, Cardi has posted videos to her Insta Story of late night studio sessions. She hasn’t said anything about canceling her upcoming tour with Bruno Mars and she even plans to still attend Coachella this coming April. The Cardi train doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon and to be honest...why would it?
After news broke of Cardi possibly being pregnant, my Twitter timeline was in shambles. There were followers denying the claims, some congratulating Cardi, while others, I noticed, were smh’ing all over the place. Tweeting things like, “your career just started, why would you go and get yourself pregnant?”, or “how you gonna be a self-proclaimed stripper hoe and have a baby?” As we like to think ourselves as open, free, millennial, thinkers... we still have this jaded, 1950’s, mindset that when it comes to the professional and personal lives of women in America, our roots have to be fully embedded into work or family. Never both.
This line of thinking is both dangerous and unrealistic. When you guilt a woman into choosing between motherhood or work, you enforce this idea that parenting is not a partnership.That it ’s more socially suitable for the mother to give up her career in the name of parenthood. When we tell women that their lives are over after motherhood, we shift all of the responsibility of parenthood over to the mother and the mother alone— even if the father or partner is available and capable. Men, on the other hand, have the luxury of being able to be both professional and a parent at the same time if they so choose. No one ever pressures them to pick one over the other.
Sure— it’s early in Cardi’s career to start a family, but several male rap legends have done it. In 1996, Lil Wayne joined forces with a group that would forever hold it down for the 99’s and the 2000’s. He was the youngest Hot Boy in the group formed by Juvenile, B.G., and Turk, joining the group at the tender age of 15. The Hot Boys' debut album Get It How U Live! was released the same year, followed by the group's major-label debut Guerrilla Warfare in 1999 which reached number 1 on the Billboard Charts. With a major record deal with Cash Money Records and a successful debut album, Lil Wayne’s high school sweetheart Antonia “Toya” Johnson gave birth to the couple’s first child when he was just 16 years old. I was only 4 when Reginae “Nae” Carter was born, but I don’t recall there ever being any talk about Wayne’s career being over just because he became a father while his career was budding. Looking at his long-reigning track record of being one of the best rappers alive— all while adding more children to the Carter bunch. Lil Wayne, from what we know, with the help of the mothers of his children and staff, was able to take care of his kids while still being dedicated to his career. Future, Fetty Wap— even Cardi B’s fiance Offset all have several children with different women and I’ve seen no evidence to support the idea that their careers slowing down because of parenthood.
If we can see and accept that men can continue on with a promising rap career after becoming parents, why is it so hard to believe that a 25-year-old with a tireless work ethic and a seemingly supportive partner can do the same?
Cardi is not the only woman in hip-hop to ever receive scrutiny for allegedly bringing life into this world while trying to build a solid rap career.
“Look at your career they said, Lauryn baby use your head...but instead I chose to use my heart.”
And aren’t we all thankful that she did? Lauryn Hill became pregnant with her first child while recording her soon to be legendary album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. “To Zion” , the 4th track on the album, was inspired by her pregnancy. When those around her found out she was pregnant, the same things that are being said about Cardi’s alleged pregnancy were being said about Lauryn’s first child. On the 10th anniversary of the album’s release, Rolling Stone did an in-depth look into The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and spoke with people who were a part of Hill’s team during the time of the album's creation and release. When Commissioner Gordon, the project’s engineer, and supervisor, was asked about “To Zion” during the interview, he recalled crying on the spot when she first sang it to him:
“These circumstances she's singing about I know first hand. I'm at the label hearing everybody says, "How's this girl gonna get pregnant now?!"
Musician and father of 5 out of 6 children for Hill, Rohan Marley, spoke briefly about how she was told by people around her that a pregnancy would ruin her career:
“She ended up having a child from myself and ones telling her she needs to abort the child. Those songs, it's all her experience.”
Can we emphasize the “her experience” part? Telling a woman her career will end because of a child is essentially telling a woman what she is and isn’t capable of. It’s telling her what she is or isn’t allowed to do, be, or experience. Listeners can be selfish, and sometimes we forget that our sole purpose is to listen and buy. Contrary to what some may think, an artist’s sole purpose is not to just entertain. They’re here to live like the rest of us. We, in no way, have any control of an artist’s life, and, therefore we shouldn’t be so quick to tell them whether or not they’re allowed to create more life. We think that a child will get in the way of a promising career, but have you ever heard music? Children are inspirational. When asked about the writer's block she faced before recording The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Hill credited her pregnancy for breaking it:
"When some women are pregnant, their hair and their nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create."
Plenty of songs across all genres have been inspired by the birth of children. A child can push your favorite artist to go harder. If for some reason, they don’t want to be better for themselves, they’ll want to be the best for their child. Cardi B has since released the artwork for her debut album “Invasion of Privacy” which is set to release on April 6th. It’s important to note that while Cardi + Lauryn are their own people, they do share a common life path. They were raised in cities that are only an hour away from each other (Lauryn is from East Orange, New Jersey, and Cardi B is from Bronx, New York), Cardi has already broken a record set by Hill, and if these pregnancy rumors that scaling up the grapevine as her debut album prepares to hit shelves next week are true, Cardi B most likely was pregnant while she recorded her first album. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was nominated 10 times at the 1999 Grammy Awards and Hill took home 5 of those awards. On February 8, 1999, Time cover-story, Hill was credited with helping fully assimilate hip-hop into mainstream music and she was the first hip-hop artist to ever appear on the magazine's front cover. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked the record at number 314 in the magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” If this lowkey connection between the two rappers continues, I predict that a child in no way will hinder Cardi B’s career. Instead of telling her what she shouldn’t do, we should bick back, and offer our potential bongratulations on one of the most anticipated albums of the year and for the inspiring, mystical, and beautiful realm that is motherhood. After all, the B stands for both.