Cardi Caught That Lick…

by Malaika Salaam


Promise you I didn’t
luck up// Was grindin’ all night // Didn’t sleep ‘til the sun up
Now I got up on my shit // Walk around like I’m that bitch

So…  On Sunday it was
announced that Cardi B. knocked Taylor Swift out of the box for the coveted top
spot on the Top Billboard 100 and the internet has been buzzing since.  There has been lots of conversation about
Cardi’s meteoric rise to that No.1 spot and why all the excitement? There a few
reasons I can think of and I am absolutely biased!

But, Malaika she ain’t even Black, is she?

Yes, Cardi B. nee’ Belcalis Almanzar is indeed Black, born
of a Trindadian mother and Dominican father (though some Dominicans do not
identify as Black, they share African heritage). Also, Cardi B. identifies as
Black of Latino Heritage. There has recently been a lot of criticism of
Cardi  and internet dragging as folks on
Twitter and other social media are prone to do… Her past transgressions have
been brought up multiple times and folks have been quick to label her problematic.
And she has admitted her transgressions, apologized and deleted as much as she
could of the bullshit she previously stated. Yes, it was colorist and
homophobic. And this is a wonderful place to clarify that Cardi being called
problematic is a side-effect of her being a problem. Yeah, that’s right! When
your star ascends, please know that everything that has been done on your imperfect
past at metamorphosed from roach to butterfly will be aired-out because in the
age of Social Media (which is how she came up) all your business can be found
and put in the streets to discredit you and bring you down. It’s how you handle
it that matters, so are you gonna remain a roach or be a butterfly?

But why is this like historic or whatever? Because y’all it’s been almost 20
years since a woman of color, who is a rapper made it happen. 1998. 1-9-9-8 y’all…
That’s a lot of time and a lot of overlooked talent. I mean since Lauryn Hill
Doo Wop (That Thing). Do you even know how many great Black Women artists that
rap have probably deserved it ??? And to be honest, she won the hearts of the
people and put the pressure on the industry to recognize her and yes, by proxy
us! And besides why we always gotta be pitted against each other? Why can’t a win just be a muthafuggin win?!

But ain’t she just a stripper, turned reality star turned rapper? Yes, and that
is precisely why this is pivotal (well for me at least). Cardi has said
interviews that she started stripping to escape the cycle of poverty and
domestic abuse. She used what she had to get what she wanted. And far be it
from me to shame or diminish sex workers for using the tools they have for
ultimate glowuptuation.  Besides, haven’t
you heard, she don’t dance no more she make money moves! Additionally, her path
from the champagne room to the recording booth makes perfect sense to me. I
mean Hip Hop at it’s core was birthed as a voice for the voiceless. Hip Hop and
Rap have long been synonymous with speaking the language of and for
marginalized people and as a woman of color, she certainly occupies that

Screenshot from Twitter retweeted by FACTSxine Waters via Alana Massey

But, but, but… Listen, you don’t have to agree with the
message or the music or lack of musicianship  but can we at least come to the common ground
that she has solidified herself in the Canon of Secular Saints as The Patroness
of Paid Hoes… I mean really, she did drop two mix tapes in 6 months, what bitch
is working as hard as her indeed? I am a sucker for a good started from the
bottom story and while I don’t buy Drake’s version of that EVER… Because
regardless of his Toronto upbringing with his Jewish mom, he is still a part of
Memphis Historical Musial lineage (look up Willie Mitchell). But Cardi B.
literally grew up in the P’s and had the disadvantages typically associated
with poverty and being a woman of color with few viable options because of
both. And she managed to turn nothing into something. Through social media
social with a “No Fucks or Filters” given persona she has spread a message of
non-traditional empowerment and self-love, while remaining authentic (I know
she got fake breasts and butt and you know what TF I mean) and vulnerable.  She has shared her story unapologetically
(except where she totally need to apologize) and been ouchea rooting and
cheering and cheering and using her voice and platforms to support women,
especially women of color and that will always get love from me.

In closing… lemme slide this across le desk…

My sentiments exactly!


Not Yo Mama’s Motivational Speech Malaika Salaam


soundtrack Bodak
Yellow, Cardi B.

don’t bother with these hoes, don’t let these hoes bother me”

 I’m the
parent of a car rider, which means that my child gets a ride to school every
day. Some days I take her and some days my partner takes her. She likes the
days I take her best. FACTS. Because I am a Motivational Speaker. She knows on
the days that I take her, I will play some music, we will have a conversation,
and I will leave her with a nugget of wisdom before she departs and remind her
to Go Be GREAT!

this Friday was no different.

it. St. Petersburg Florida.  2017. The SO
and I return from the gym and the Chôclät Girl Wŭnda is supposed to come out,
when The SO goes in. The SO comes out after a couple of minutes and tells me
that CGW was not awake and has flown out of bed and is scrambling to get ready.
Less than 10 minutes later (record High School Girl’s time) the CGW comes
racing out of the house, barreling towards the Prius, juggling backpack, supplies,
edge control and brush (because yes, she still must get her afro puff together
on the 5 minute or so ride to school). I am exasperated from watching the

I look over and
sensing that she needs motivation, I fly into action. I ask her how she is
doing this morning. She responds, “I set my alarm. It didn’t go off or I didn’t
hear it. My phone came off the charger and is dead. This day hasn’t started
like I wanted it to. I don’t know how it’s going to go.” Being me, I cut to the
chase, give her the look… She looks back, disheveled and gathering her edges
and nods. I ask THE QUESTION, signaling IT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN, “Music?” “YES,
please!” She responds and less than a second later the beat drops…and “ It’s
Cardi, ayyyy!” And together we sing…

“Said, “Lil bitch, you
can’t fuck with me if you wanted to”
These expensive,
these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes

I don’t dance now, I
make money moves.
Say I don’t gotta dance, I make money move
If I see you and I
don’t speak, that means I don’t fuck with you…”

Yes, volume up to max, heads bobbing
hard, flailing our arms (but you know rhythmically)… The music skips and she
calls the Prius racist (she swears the Prius conspires to jack up only the
black music we listen too)… We get into a brief discussion about racism and her
intensive performing arts program and being a minority in a program at a
predominantly black school. We talk microaggressions, overly peppy white girls,
and the angry black woman trope. She is affected and I am compelled to remind
her who she is and Cardi B. is the background and vehicle for this reminder.

If in the canon of Secular Saints,
Trina is the Patron Saint of Paid Hoes, then Cardi B. is surely the Patron
Saint of Glowups.

“They see pictures, they say,
“Goals,” bitch, I’m who they tryna be”

No, really. Who doesn’t like a good
underdog-overcoming story. Isn’t that our story, collectively as Black people
in America? I mean we come from some resilient stock. We didn’t just survive
being kidnapped, stripped of our humanity, interned on prison work farms,
psychologically, physically, emotionally, sexually abused… No, we thrived, we
created and kept traditions. We devised under deplorable conditions to have
intentional family. We married and we procreated by choice. Now ain’t that
something?! Yet, we walk out into this world every day and leave the sanctity
and safety of our homes and families and feed ourselves into the machine. We
resist, we do everything we can to show up and not be swallowed whole, when
everything around us is telling us that WE ARE NOT. Not human, not beautiful,
not worthy, not valuable and a inexhaustive list of NOTS.

 What Cardi B. reminds us is that WE ARE! And
those little bitches… all the lil bitches, the lil systemic racism bitches, the
lil racist, xenophobic, oppressive presidential bitches, the lil program
bitches, the lil naysaying bitches, and lil annoying, privileged, classmate
bitches can’t FUCK WITH US, even if they wanted to. And they do, the do want
to. They tell us and show us every day. And WE ARE our ancestor’s wildest
dreams. We do stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us and we
stand tall, so of course they want to knock us down. They want us to think we
are not, so we will stop crushing our goals. Think about it, Venus and Serena
have ruled the tennis courts for 2 decades, two Black girls from Compton, CA on
the courts with their Professional Black Girl aesthetics, ruling and reigning
in their sport. 

We show up, stand out, and show out. That is the stock that we
come from and it is incumbent upon us to remember that.  Nobody is responsible for reminding us or for
our self-esteem, worth, and value (Katt Williams said it best). Now go out
there and BE GREAT!

In the student drop off line, with goosebumps
raised all over, I look at the Chôclät Girl Wŭnda and ask her if she is ready
for her day now. Her eyes lit, her shoulders squared, her crown adjusted, she
says “Hell Yeah! Mom you are the best Motivational Speaker ever!”  She exits the car, I turn Bodak Yellow on
full volume and ride out.

“Said, I’m the shit, they can’t fuck with me
if they wanted to"

(This blog was inspired with by my
daughter’s Chôclät Girl Wŭnda and Nunchux. Nunchux who got the speech later
that day and said, “So Mom, when will I see this in writing.”)

In case you missed it… Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow just moved to the #1 spot on Billboard Top 100.. knocking Taylor Swift and becoming the first female rapper to reach the number one spot as a solo act with no features since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998.
To celebrate… Hitting y’all with this motivational speech one more time for The Culture. 

Cardi B now officially has the number 1 song in the country. “Bodak Yellow” beat out Taylor Swift’s latest single to top the charts for the first time! She’s also the first female rapper to have a solo song top the Hot 100 since Lauryn Hill’s Doo Wop (That Thing) in 1998.
#RP @for.harriet
• • •
#ForHarriet #CardiB #Patroness #Number1 #PAID #CardiB4TheCulture