I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out why the success of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” is being celebrated as if it were a major civil rights victory, and the most I can think is that white people find her to be an especially amusing minstrel performer, and any social justice-y analysis of her triumph exists solely to create an excuse to chuckle at the fact that she can hardly speak English, despite being born and raised in the United States.
To paraphrase obscure white poet Alec Ounsworth, I can’t think of another reason why anyone would give a shit about Cardi B.
I’m writing this on a borrowed computer, with a limited amount of time, so I didn’t get a chance to actually listen to “Bodak Yellow,” so I don’t have any way of knowing if it’s a good song. In the interest of fairness, I’m gonna give Cardi B the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s brilliant.
Usually, this is the part of the newsletter where I argue that the song can’t possibly be that significant, if it’s been around for months without me hearing it, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t hear all kinds of things. That Justin Bieb(l)er song “Despacito” is supposedly the most popular song there ever was, and I’ve never heard it—this despite the fact that people in countries that don’t even have the Internets have heard it. (Africans connect to the Internets using windmills.)
Part of it is that I’m just plain old. I’m damn near as old as my father was when I started high school. I can’t be expected to keep up with the latest trends. I’m still interested in teenage girls’ bodies, but I could give a rat’s ass what they’re listening to. But part of it is that the most popular songs these days aren’t actually very popular, objectively speaking. They’re only popular relative to other modern, garbage music.
When you hear that Post Malone, whatever that is (I know it’s a rapper, not a band—I’m not that unhip!), has been streamed literally a billion times on Spotify, earning him $900, that’s just because (a) the population is a lot higher than it was back when rap music was worth a shit, and (b) people who listen to that kind of music have the time to sit and listen to the same songs over and over again, because they don’t work.
Perhaps taking a cue from Black People Twitter, Spotify (which I recently quit) is capitalizing on this by creating several playlists that target a hoodrat youth demographic. The celebrated Rap Caviar is the most popular of them, but if you notice, they’ve got eight other playlists that are all just the same songs from Rap Caviar, in a different order (and not a single rap playlist that’s appropriate for an adult with a modicum of taste).
“Bodak Yellow” obviously benefited from this trend, and it probably won’t be the last song to do so. This could be the new norm. (Next up: Danielle Bregoli, of “cash me ousside” fame.) Already this year, Migos topped the Hot 100 with that song “Bad and Boujee.”
Until just now, topping the Hot 100 was such a rare feat that Jay Z and Drake had only done it once, and even the might Kanye West had only done it twice, most of them with garbage songs purposely intended to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Except for “Gold Digger,” which is easily the best Kanye song.
And so, when “Bad and Boujee” hit number one, it was argued, by the same kind of dumbasses who published the ridiculous Bhad Bhabie advertorial in the Fader the other day, that this meant Migos was here to stay, not unlike Young M.A. (last year’s Cardi B), Bobby Shmurda, Trinidad James and a whole litany of flashes in the pan whose names I can’t even remember anymore. This was obviously not true, because if it was they wouldn’t have had to say it, not unlike when my grandma used to tell me how handsome I was.
Having said all that, sometimes it’s important to give credit where credit is due. As discussed in last week’s newsletter, the controversial “Why I support XXXTentacion,” the number two album in the country is still the number two album in the country, even if it’s on a bullshit list like the current incarnation of the Billboard 200. Action Bronson couldn’t even crack the top 50, and he was off the list in a week.
Cardi B now has the exact same number of number one songs as Jay Z. As a sexist, this admittedly hurts my ego (just kidding, I respect females). Will Jay Z ever be able to top the Hot 100 again? I’m sure he’s somewhere thinking about that, as we “speak.” He’s the nominal black figurehead at Tidal, so maybe he can make it seem as if his own songs are streamed more often than they really are. What’s the point in owning a business, if you can’t somehow use it to your own benefit? White people have understood this for centuries, and that’s why, as Jay explains on 4:44, Jewish people own most real estate.
It’s also important to note that female artists aren’t as popular as they once were. As pointed out in an alarmist article in Billboard a few weeks ago, there hadn’t been a female artist atop the Hot 100 since Trump took office back in January. Taylor Swift, who hit the top spot with “Look What You Made Me Do” maybe two weeks ago, may have been the very first one. I’m assuming this is because you can’t actually see the artists you listen to on these streaming services, and if you can’t see the artist you might as well listen to a guy, because men make better music than women.
Cardi B may have actually benefited from this limitation, because she is, as they used to say back in the early days of blogging, fugly. Her face is coated with a buttery sheen, and her body looks like it was put together by the kind of plastic surgeon you visit when your “sponsor” is some guy who works at the phone company, not Jimmy Iovine.
The latter came as a surprise—and a disappointment—to me, because reading Junot Diaz led me to believe that Dominican women were built like a brick shithouse, and I’ve read elsewhere that it’s relatively inexpensive to travel to the Dominican Republic for what’s known euphemistically as love tourism. I was seriously thinking about going down there, but now I might get one of those miniature replica Super Nintendos.
Take it easy on yourself,