If you ever doubted that Cardi B was a badass, her new video for the single “Money” will expel that doubt from your mind. It is visually stunning. I am obsessed with that custom made fuchsia ensemble and those black wide-brimmed hats. Christmas dinner outfit anyone? The shots are carefully crafted and each of her different outfits is a clever callback to past iconic fashion moments, the looks are explained in a really great article that you can find here. Kathleen has spoken in the past about how Cardi is an emerging star in high fashion and this video proves that again. Cardi exudes elegance and attitude in this video, especially in this gorgeous, black, high fashion breastfeeding get up. It gave me “when dinnertime is at 6 but you have to curse a Disney princess is at 7” vibes and I’m here for it.
But high fashion Cardi is still Cardi, and she complements her new style with her past – she’s still on the pole, so to speak, only now she’s in better clothes. Look at that shot where she has three people balancing on top of each other! I can’t even walk without tripping let alone rock a pole with three other people on it.
The best part of this video is that it is heavily layered. Lots of people have pointed out the politics of her unapologetically breastfeeding Kulture (which shouldn’t really be a statement, but it unfortunately is). At the surface, as the video title “Money” implies, it’s an opulent display of wealth. On another level, her video is more so about power and how well she can wield it. Cardi isn’t just rich, she has redefined what it means to be rich. In the strip club, she’s both a performer and the spectator who makes it rain. In both cases, she dominates the scene, commanding the viewer’s attention and focus. In another scene, she’s literally on display in a glass case surrounded by the rich disapproving white elite. She defiantly awes and appalls them. She is the centre exhibit in a room filled with status symbols while challenging the status quo – of what it is to be a woman, a mother, an entrepreneur. Cardi owns what she does, wherever she is. In this sense, "Money" isn’t just about Cardi’s wealth, it’s about her and how she got to where she is today.
So how does Cardi manage to own the spotlight every time? Azealia Banks has some thoughts. On Saturday, Banks posted a story to her Instagram where she admitted that her past criticisms of Cardi came from jealousy, pointing out the problem of a male dominated genre not making space for multiple female rappers, but she also includes this nugget of wisdom. “What Cardi has that Nicki nor I have is genuine love and support from her people. The love of one’s community is very powerful and it can propel you to heights you cannot reach on your own.” Is Cardi so irresistible that she’s turned a former enemy into a fan?