The stakes were high for Cardi B after her huge social media following and historic hit single “Bodak Yellow,” but the Bronx stripper-turned-rap star delivered: Her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, is the biggest rap release of the year, garnering praise from Remy Ma all the way to Oprah Winfrey.
But backing Cardi B’s witty, swaggy rhymes — and those of guests like Chance the Rapper, Migos and 21 Savage — is a collection of uptempo beats that keeps the rhythm going. Billboard spoke to some of the producers from Invasion of Privacy to hear the stories behind the songs and what it’s like working with Cardi.
“Drip” (Produced by Cassius Jay)
“One of my close friends Nonstop Da Hitman brought a beat over. I said, ‘We should just strip that whole session, delete all you created, and let’s start over, because I love the drum sounds in the kit.’ Me and him started vibing. My roots are from Zaytoven, I learned everything from Zaytoven. When you hear those flutes, that’s a melody I thought of that I knew Zay would do, and I knew it would be a hit. I came up with that melody, and we created the drums around it.
“I sent it to Offset, and as soon as I sent it to Offset, he sent it right back with the concept and the hook and his verse. At first he thought it was going on CULTURE II, because we did some songs on CULTURE II but it didn’t get placed. He called me and said, ‘hold it, i’m going to put it on Cardi’s album.’ Soon as she jumped on it, I knew what time it was. I knew it was going to be a miracle. There wasn’t too much to say, it was already a hit. All they wanted was my approval, and my approval was ‘yes.’
“When I first heard Cardi B’s verse, she was just going crazy. I don’t think she even knew how crazy she was going. But when I first heard it, I was speechless.”
“Bickenhead” (Produced by Ayo n Keyz)
Ayo: “One of our good friends and family, Nes, started with the drums. Me and Keyz added the melodies, and chopped the sample. The sample, our generation knows it from Project Pat, but Project Pat himself sampled it, so we had to do that research. Our team was able to send it out and get the job done.
Keyz: “(Project Pat’s “Chickenhead”) is just one of them records. It’s crack. A classic record you hear in the club or at a party, you go like “oh yeah, they’re about to go crazy with this.” Right now Memphis is getting a lot of love with Drake and BlocBoy, it’s dope and to be able to see that and add to that with this record.
Ayo: As producers, we all have that secret rapper inside of us. We all come up with vibes and concepts, like ‘such and such would sound good on this,’ and rap along to it, thinking how they would. Cardi is one of the only people who could do it justice, but she definitely did.
“Bodak Yellow” (Produced by J. White)
“I was at our manager’s house, and I was just vibing and I was making some R&B tracks. My manager is like, ‘why you making R&B tracks? Cardi said she want some turn up tracks.’ Cardi was in the other room on the phone, I didn’t think she was paying attention. I’m just vibing. I’m like, ‘Cardi ain’t say that.’ She comes in the room and says [imitating Cardi’s voice], ‘I did say that! I want some turn-up tracks!’ She wasn’t there when I finished it, but she was there when I started it. She was liking it, sat down and started bobbing her head.
“After I heard what she put on it, man, ‘oh my God.’ I remember they Facetimed me when they were in the studio. I just heard the pain and the hunger in her voice on this track. I was like, this might be a record that gives us an opportunity to get another record out. That was my only vision: I wasn’t trying to make no record to go number one or change the game, I was only trying to make a record that would get us another record.
“From 2016, I began to do the majority of her tracks that she put out. I did a single called ‘What A Girl Likes,’ ‘Bronx Season,’ ‘Lick.’ I did some records on her mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 2. Every record we put out got better and better and better, until it just hit. Cardi, at the time (of working on “Bodak Yellow”), she just wanted people to really mess with the music. We’re all human, we can all get discouraged when people don’t react how we feel they should react. But Cardi did have these aspirations. When we were going up the charts, we all were checking the stats every hour on the hour to see did we rise on iTunes, who’s tweeting about it. She’s very grateful for what happened with this life-changing record we all created.
“I literally bet all my money on Cardi B. She didn’t know how hard it was to literally come back and forth. I contemplated suicide – shoot, I attempted it – during that time of working with Cardi B. Sometimes we’re on the road, and I’d have $20 in my pocket. This Cardi B thing had to work. I literally stopped working with everybody, because I only wanted to work with Cardi B. I honestly believed in that girl that much. Now I feel like a big brother, seeing her go out and accomplish what she wants to accomplish in life.”
“Money Bag” (Produced by J. White)
“We were in LA. ‘Bodak’ was already out, we were probably No. 8 on Billboard now. The goal was to keep feeding the streets, just keep making records. Nobody really said in the studio, ‘we gotta do another Bodak.’ We just gotta do another record that’s dope. That’s what I preach in the studio period, to anybody that I work with. Don’t worry about what we did before, that record is done and out there to the public. We gotta worry about another record. Let’s stay in that grind mode, let’s stay hungry, and it’ll show on the track.
“’Money Bag’ is just that vibe, bro. For your female gangstas, dude gangstas, whatever gangsta you think you is. If you’re getting money, period, you can relate to that record. I got a dope co-producer as well, his name is LaQuan Greene. He’s a new, young, upcoming dope producer.”
“I Like It” (Produced by J. White)
“‘’I Like It’ is pretty similar. It’s just celebrating success, achievement, talking about what she likes. Pretty much, if you ain’t working, you ain’t eating. I had the opportunity to work with the great Craig Kallman on that record, from Atlantic, and I worked with Tiny as well, another amazing producer out of Miami. I think we made a great record that the world is going to really enjoy.”