Earlier this year, Love & Hip-Hop and social media star Cardi B dropped a mixtape. In this day and age where doing so is all but required by everyone, it was no real shock to see the twenty-something thirst trap expert and meme mistress release a project. But, was it any good? Or would it just be remembered for the cover where we see her drinking a Corona while some dude plays "lick the cat?"
Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 was, in some ways, exactly what you'd expect if you've seen Cardi on the show. It's loud, it's unapologetic, it's unfiltered, and it's raunchy as hell with just the right amount of goofy. She feels Nicki-esque on a lot of the project. But, that unapologetic nature, that usually sets up a project for one of two routes: classic or headscratcher. GBM falls in the middle of the two. It's not a project that'll be remembered for its bars outright. But, it's not a project that'll just be remembered as "that time Cardi B tried to spit and sucked her own ass while doing so."
It has a lot of heart, even when it feels like Cardi is just riding the wave of her persona. When we get to tracks such as "Everything," we are given a pretty stripped-down, reflective side of Cardi that you wouldn't expect. While I feel that the project could've used more moments like that versus "oh, I'ma just shake my ass, thirst trap, and use what I have to get what I want," that wouldn't really be true to who Cardi B has presented herself as.
The album plays it safe. Many of the tracks fall in line with the following philosophy:
"I'ma use my ass to get this nigga's attention. But you, girl over there, you a thot of the grandest proportion ever and you not using it right."
Because of that, we get a fun project that sometimes overstays its welcome. It's cool to hear Cardi rap about fucking and sucking and being a boss bitch and the like. It's cool to hear her scheming on simps and dumbasses. She's got a decent flow and her beat-riding skills are pretty legit, considering it's her first project. Heck, even her bars are present for most of the project, something I can't really say about a chunk of LHH-related artists. But, overall, it's somewhat middle of the road for me.
Now, if the project had more topics discussed, I'd be more of a fan of it. Now, I'm not saying that Cardi needs to go all "woke" and talk about the lack of reciprocity within the psychological annals of Black culture and how that has a detrimental effect on the evolution of our people or some shit. However, I would've loved to hear more than stripper-friendly gangsta tracks. But, given that the album's title suggests stripper-friendly gangsta tracks are foreva and why we're here in the first place, I'm not surprised and I didn't really expect more than that.
So, TL;DR, it delivers on its promise of showcasing some "gangsta bitch music." Cardi's funny on the tracks and they are pretty well put-together. However, I left the project wanting more of the stripped-down Cardi versus the one we tend to see on social media and TV. If you shut down your aspirations for her and accept the project at face value, there are far worse "gangsta bitch music"-related projects. However, if you're looking for an introductory album that showcases both the outlandish and the realistically-grounded sides of an artist? Eh...that's not happening here. Not yet anyways.