This is Unpopular Opinions, a romp through our staff’s personal Slack conversations that boldly reveals scandalous opinions that many would deem unpopular. So basically, it’s a conversation that proclaims, “We schaid what we schaid.” And this week’s topic of conversation is a woman whose name won’t stay off our tongues.
Move over, *insert mediocre white woman here*—America has crowned a new sweetheart! It’s none other than the mouth-wide-open, tongue-wagging, money-moving, fashion-killing, reality show star-turned-Billboard-chart-topper Cardi B. This woman is the epitome of the glow-up being—what the kids say—real.
We’ve watched young Cardi go from a proud Bronx, N.Y., stripper, often spouting her around-the-way-girl wisdom all over Instagram, to a full-fledged artist with more than just a knack for making a hit. Cardi B is endearing, unconventional (but relatable AF), hilarious, honest and representative of hard work paying off.
So of course I had to ask my colleagues about their opinions on her because Cardi can be a bit of a polarizing figure. She’s appreciated for her raw demeanor but also criticized for glorifying a material lifestyle that lacks substance. And as a fan of Cardi’s, I’ll say that I do think her materialism is problematic but also warranted.
Her Cinderella story is that stuff Bronx dreams are made of, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch her be able to buy her dream car ... cash, or brag over being able to pay her mama’s bills. These are the relatable hood dreams that make Cardi B an undeniable “it” girl. And don’t front; you have never been able to get “Bodak Yellow” out of your head.
Danielle Young: I think Cardi B is hard to dislike.
Christina Blacken: Yeah, as a person, she’s hard to dislike. I get her hustle. I just hate that we idolize this sort of hustle.
Danielle Young: It’s the new-money argument, the people Jay-Z was talking about with the “money phone.” Like, that’s fine; do that, but just know it ain’t it. But when you grew up on the system and now can afford to pay for a Bentley, get your mama bills paid and still have money left to stunt, it’s a brand-new feeling worth celebrating. But at what cost, I guess, if we’re writing think pieces lol!
Christina Blacken: Yeah, I guess it comes into the fact of ... chasing money by any means necessary. Sucks, but it’s complicated, which I get.
Then Gizmodo Media Group’s software engineer and regular Slack comedian Victor Amos chimed in.
Victor Amos: This discussion reminds me of an article I read like every four weeks. It’s called “why we hate stupid poor people” or something like that. But essentially, people have to act this way to walk into new social status in society. It’s a way out of social exclusion. So I get her whole aesthetic in that regard.
Christina Blacken: I’m not sure if it’s a way out of social exclusion, though. I think it’s a different social stratum that’s still locked into a system that keeps people poor and aspiring for the status quo.
The Root’s Stephen Crockett came in, fingers pointed.
Stephen Crockett: I blame Instagram for this shit. Everyone is not someone. Some people are just filler. We were never supposed to know Cardi B or, more importantly, that she has a sister named “Hennessy.”
Christina Blacken: Ironically, that’s what I like about media. It’s democratized visibility, which is the future currency. And I’m biased, since I work in advertising. By the same token, we haven’t solved for the quality of viability or the human desire to watch train wrecks and controversy. Bad news/stupid people get attention because people love gawking at drama and stupidity.
Danielle Young: But do we think of Cardi as a stupid person seeking attention?
Victor Amos: I don’t. I love that Cardi B exists and is visible. Everyone wants to use hood vernacular and aesthetic but keep the people who create it at the periphery. Step into the light, Cardi.
And in comes The Root’s Angela Helm to support my and Victor’s love of Cardi.
Angela Helm: I think she’s awesome. Mostly because she spoke out when they were dragging Gabby Douglas for her hair, and she supported Colin Kaepernick. She’s unapologetically herself, [which is] rare in women.
Christina Blacken: I don’t think she’s dumb. I think she probably is mostly driven by money and material things, given what she talks about and promotes, which is a whole other bag of worms. Victor, you bring up a good point, but then again, I think hood folks get used as props and are laughed at and not with, which Cardi can fall into.
Stephen Crockett: No, I actually think of her as a character who’s playing real. I don’t think she’s dumb; I just don’t know if I buy any of what she’s selling.
Christina Blacken: Or like Auntie Fee’s cooking show. Or when people single out folks on news segments to hear them and get a laugh. I loved Auntie Fee, too, but I think, again, people were laughing at her and not with her.
Angela Helm: I know plenty black/Hispanic people like Auntie Fee and Cardi B.
She may be overexaggerating a character, but I find that black folk fall into respectability b.s. I don’t give a fuck about nobody’s opinion of what is “ghetto,” and materialism exists everywhere. From the president (OK, not a great example) to the Kardashians. She pays her mama’s rent!!!
Victor Amos: I’m from the hood. I rep the hood as I rise and walk into these new paradigms. I’m definitely laughing *with* Cardi.
Stephen Crockett: I think that’s what she wants us to believe. There is the idea that the more raunchy, unpolished and unapologetic, the more authentic you become. I just don’t know if I buy it.
Corey Townsend: She’s staying true to herself and I love that. It’s not a gimmick; she’s really just your favorite hoodrat cousin who loves Jesus.
Danielle Young: The whole thing about Cardi is that she’s always known she’s the butt of jokes, so she makes the joke first. She knows we are laughing but is confident that it’s WITH her.
Stephen Crockett: But is that real?
Danielle Young: I do think it’s real. I think now there may be an added air of ... they’re watching ...
Christina Blacken: Overall, I don’t think materialism is a hood thing. I’m just saying Cardi represents materialism in a way I don’t like, but I respect her hustle.
Victor Amos: All of our behavior is a performance. So in that regard, she’s as real as we are in any given setting.
Stephen Crockett: I see it as performance in the way that rappers adapted hood, crack selling as a performance.
One of our resident “Very Smart Brothas,” Damon Young, joined in the conversation, simply by dropping a link to one of his latest posts about Cardi B. So naturally, the conversation turned to No. 6 on the list:
6. You sleep on beds with no top sheets. Just mattress and comforter. And not because you can’t afford sheets. But because you’re just triflin’.
Christina Blacken admitted to being one of those trifling people, and the entire conversation turned into a discussion of fitted and/or flat sheets and comforters—who sleeps with them and who sleeps without them. Maybe we can all debate that one in the comments.
Either way, Cardi B—yay or nay for you?