Music Features

Review: Can "Culture III" Change the Culture Once Again?

Can the tide shift with the Migos sway as it did in 2017? It doesn't seem likely. Even flash-in-the-pan moments of excitement are drowned out by long stretches of monotony.

Culture III

When the original Culture was released back in 2017, the Atlanta area was already a bustling rap mecca, filled with so many rap migrants that Coach K, the head of the now unstoppable Quality Control Music, told The New York Times with all sincerity that there were "more transplants in the city of Atlanta than people from Atlanta."

But Atlanta's cultural staying power was solidified by Culture, and the city became publicly recognized as a "center of gravity" in hip-hop. The city's ominous musical palette became the blueprint for trap music as a whole moving forward, and every rapper to emerge after Culture's release bit off the Migos triplet-laced flow. The mimicry got so bad that Snoop Dogg chimed in at one point to clown and condemn it.

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MUSIC

Cardi B's "Press" Video Implies That Her Felony Charges Were a Publicity Stunt

Was Cardi B's 2018 assault a meticulously preplanned publicity stunt?

On Friday, June 21, Cardi B entered a courtroom.

She wore a black pantsuit with pink lapels and high heels; her gleaming hair fell around her face in straight lines. She proceeded to plead not guilty to felony charges that stemmed from a 2018 fight in a strip club in Queens.

Five days later, she dropped the video for her song "Press," which also finds her in a courtroom. Dressed in a white suit with an extravagant neck ruff, she delivers the kind of searing verses that made her famous while a white man screams at her—until he starts bleeding from the neck. Carnage ensues.

Cardi B - Press [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

Though the line between Cardi B's life and her art has always been blurred, the "Press" video erases that division entirely. The fact that the video so clearly parallels real events—along with the fact that Cardi refused to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge that would've almost certainly gotten her no jail time—raises the question: Was Cardi B's decision to refuse to plead guilty just a publicity stunt?

After all, even the fact that news of Cardi B's felony charge and court date broke in the same week as this video's release hints at some sort of premeditation. Even more suspicious: The assault in question was apparently preplanned as well. According to her felony indictment, "The defendant used social media accounts to communicate and coordinate the date, time, location, and target of a planned assault. Tawana Jackson-Motel and Belcalis Almanzar discussed payment of money in exchange for the commission for a planned assault. Jeffrey Bush prepared to video record the assault." In light of this, if convicted, Cardi faces up to 4 years in prison. It seems like all this might be a kind of experimental art piece, or maybe one of the more complicated and risky marketing campaigns in recent memory.

Cardi B Surrenders to Police in Strip Club Fight www.youtube.com

All this makes for a lot of media coverage, which is exactly what the ever-antagonistic Cardi B shouts that she doesn't need in "Press." The video finds its star completely in charge, declaring that she doesn't need any press or anyone at all to back her up as she ascends to the top.

Regardless of its messages, the video is a powerful visual counterpart to an already fantastic song. It's clearly designed to raise eyebrows: Beginning with a woman-on-woman kiss, featuring literally the maximum amount of nudity as YouTube's censors will allow, punctuated by gunshots, and bloodstained from beginning to end, it's a slideshow of Hollywood's most eye-catching pleasures but with a twist. For once, it's a woman pulling the trigger.

Like much of Cardi B's career, her new video and the possible publicity stunt surrounding its release are simultaneously empowering and destructive, magnetic and also undeniably messy. "Press" is full of mixed messages. She kills the white lawyers and jury who spew silent words of rage at her, which could be a pointed jab at the racial bias that leads to the mass incarceration of people of color; but later in the video, she seems to kill all the female dancers around her, backtracking on any themes of solidarity. In the end, there's only one clear point: This is all about the cult of Cardi B.


Image via Time Magazine

In some ways, Cardi acts as a kind of Lilith figure in the video—Lilith being the most notorious demon in Judaism. As the story goes, Lilith was Adam's first wife in the garden of Eden, but after refusing to submit to her husband's sexual requests, she wound up fleeing and embarking on a murderous rampage. In modern times, Lilith has been reclaimed as a feminist icon, an embodiment of the aggressive sexuality, freedom, and unassailable dominance that women are rarely given the tools to manifest, but which comprise the legacies of most of history's so-called "great men."

Like Lilith, Cardi B abdicates her role within the system and fights fire with fire in "Press." In that spirit, her possibly preplanned arrest may be a f**k-you to the criminal justice system, to white male-led hegemonies, and to the media at large. But it's not an ode to politically correct liberals, either, not exactly a feminist anthem. Ultimately, it's a battle cry, a declaration of independence at a distorted and violent moment in American history The point is clear: Cardi B isn't going to stop wreaking havoc, and we're not going to stop watching.

MUSIC

Cardi B and Offset Reference Kim K and Beyoncé in Steamy New Video “Clout”

In their newest release, hip hop's stormiest couple takes down their haters and copycats while relishing in their own infamy.

Cardi B and Offset are probably most famous for their tumultuous relationship, but they're also pretty good at collaborating musically.

Their newest video, "Clout," is kitschy opulence at its finest. It features Offset at a neon yellow piano wearing a hockey mask alongside shots of the couple clad in leather and looking spectacular in a chamber of mirrors. Ultimately it's a no-holds-barred tribute to the electric draw and absurdity of money and fame.

cardi b and offset drawing Image via The I'm a Music Mogul Blog

Lyrically, the song is loaded with references to pop culture's most widely discussed icons; Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Elvis are just some of the names that crop up in Offset's verses. Cardi B mentions Destiny's Child and oddly, Oscar the Grouch, but mostly focuses on the Internet's culture of defamation. "They using my name for clickbait," she sings, calling out all her wannabes and copycats in her characteristically effortless bars. "Saying anything to get a response."

Ultimately "Clout" takes both a critical look at the harsh competition and desperation that defines the come-up in this day and age—while also pandering to everything necessary to achieve that fame. "Do anything for clout," Cardi B spits while gyrating on her husband's lap in a very NSFW sequence and addressing the camera from within a hill of lemons. Aesthetically, the video is all 90's Busta Rhymes-style block colors; sonically it's surprisingly restrained, allowing all the focus to remain on the stars themselves.

"Clout" is Cardi B and Offset's fifth collaboration, their first since Lil Yachty's "Who Want the Smoke?" Watch it below:

Offset - Clout feat. Cardi B (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief: hip-hop's most dramatic couple is back together.

Sources have confirmed to TMZ that Cardi B and husband Offset are not getting a divorce after all. According to TMZ, "Cardi's returning to the Atlanta home they shared before the breakup. We're told this is the first time she's been back to stay there with Offset and Kulture since December."

Prior to the news of the reunion, fans had already begun to suspect a reconciliation was on the way after Cardi posted "I wanna go home" over a picture of Offset and daughter Kulture on her Instagram story.

While sources say the couple is definitively back together, there are reportedly a few ground rules in place to prevent recurrences of Offset's unfaithful behavior. The Migos rapper has changed his phone number and is only using it for business and communicating with Cardi. He's also abiding by a "no groupies" rule, particularly this weekend at the Super Bowl where no female fans will be allowed near him.

He has a lot to prove to his wife after his infidelities went public in late 2018. While there were many alleged incidents of Offset being unfaithful, the incident that likely drove Cardi B to end the relationship was the leaked text messages between Offset and rapper Summer Bunni, in which Offset seemed to be attempting to plan a threesome with her and Cuban Doll. But Offset didn't take the break up well, attempting to win Cardi back multiple times, even going so far as to interrupt her concert to apologize, efforts that seem to have now paid off.

Whether the events surrounding the split was a publicity stunt for Offset's upcoming album or a genuine rift, it looks like baby Kulture has both her parents under one roof once again.


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.


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As you probably already know, Offset and Cardi B recently split after rumors of the Migos rapper's infidelities went public.

The breakup has gained even more media attention since Offset made a "surprise" guest appearance during Cardi's performance at the Rolling Loud festival in LA on Saturday. He interrupted the show by wheeling out a display of roses that read "Take Me Back Cardi" and saying into a microphone, "I just want to tell you I'm sorry, bruh. In person. In front of the world." The two rappers then appeared to have a heated exchange, before Offset exited the stage and the flower display was removed. Cardi resumed her performance looking less than pleased by the stunt.

Now, fans are debating whether or not Cardi knew about the stunt, why her manager didn't stop it from happening, and to what degree the festival planners were involved. The Rolling Loud twitter page tweeted a now-deleted series of posts that promised the festival would go "viral," seeming to imply that they knew something unexpected would happen. But festival co-founder Tariq Cherif told the Los Angeles Times, "We were told she was going to have a guest star during her set, that it was going to be Migos, but we didn't know anything about that stunt." He continued, "We're getting blamed as if we conspired to do this, and I just want to make it clear that we did not. Cardi's management was in on it, it had nothing to do with the festival. The artist is in full control of the stage and they determine who gets on and off."

He later tweeted,

But in response to fans' outrage at the publicist's betrayal, Cardi said in an Instagram video, "That's my bitch. That's my homie. That's like my big sister, she's not like any other publicist. She's my friend. She has taken my husband and my sister as a client and she has helped us a lot. Yeah, sometimes she does a little bit more, you wanna know why? Because we are a family and she cares about my family." Cardi went on, "I'm not gonna let y'all drag her. I don't give a fuck…I will never let y'all disrespect people this close to me."

In another video posted Saturday, she defended Offset against angry fans, as well, saying, "Violating my baby father is not gonna make me feel any better, because at the end of the day that's still family. Unfortunately we're going through things, and it's not private, it became public. I just want things to die down. I just need time so we can see eye to eye. I can't predict the future, I don't know, but the whole coming at my baby father bullshit, that doesn't make me feel any better."

But fans remain split on what to make of the incident. Some think it's clear that Cardi was in on the gesture, using her recent split as an opportunity to garner publicity for herself and her music. But others see Offset's interruption as an example of a larger socio-political phenomenon, in which men tend to consider themselves more important than their female partner's work, and therefore feel entitled to taking the spotlight away from their partner when it suits them.

Indeed, it's difficult to deny that Offset made Cardi's moment his moment, and given that Cardi's performance was the first time a woman has ever opened the Rolling Loud festival, the symbolism is particularly poignant. Regardless of the truth of who was behind the incident, fans continue to share their takes online, with many hoping that Cardi will be able to disentangle herself from Offset's toxic vibes once and for all.



Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.


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Music Features

Offset's Tweet About Cardi B Enrages Fans

The rapper has been getting a lot of hate on social media since his split with Cardi B.

Billboard

It's notoriously difficult to keep a relationship going when one half of the couple is pretty publicly sleeping with strippers. Thus, Cardi B announced her split with Migos rapper, Offset, last week in an Instagram video.

While there have been many alleged incidents of Offset being unfaithful, the incident that likely drove Cardi B to definitively end the relationship was the leaked text messages between Offset and rapper Summer Bunni, in which Offset seemed to be attempting to plan a threesome with her and Cuban Doll.

While the evidence to support Cardi's decision seems pretty undeniable, Offset is reportedly blaming media and fan criticism for influencing Cardi's decision. According to TMZ, Offset is upset that, "haters keep filling Cardi's social media posts with negativity about him."

Obviously in denial that his relationship is over, the rapper tweeted on Sunday, "FUCK YALL I MISS CARDI."

The internet had little sympathy for the rapper.




At Jingle Ball in New York City on Friday, Cardi made it clear she wasn't pining for Offset. She changed the lyrics to "MotorSport"—her collab with Migos and Nicki Minaj—that originally went "I get upset off / I turn Offset on / I told him the other day / Man, we should sell that porn" to "I get upset off / I turn Offset on / I told him the other day / yeah, we gon' get a divorce!"


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.



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