Category: fashion + style

DEFINING DIGITAL IDENTITY

IDENTITY

while this piece was being drafted, a fraudulent instagram account, using a 2010 image of me shot by tarrice love was discovered. already thinking about this piece, and delving into it as i have done other topics in this space, i’ve been thinking about identity, what it means to go digital, and how my pathway has represented me. through building LITA; and really identifying what each value means singularly as well as a four-pillar post of ideals- i thought, “who is the person i am today, and how is who i’ve been in the past reflected in that?” these questions spur into a web of other mental conversations with self. questions become answered, only leading you to the next question. and soon enough you’re aboard a train of thought, that seemingly has no stops ahead.

taking a glitched, soft focus drift back into the 90’s – 1996 or so, let’s say. i remember my grandma on my dad’s side getting her first computer. i remember her AOL account name, furnishing the user98943 type of automatic email generator. so many things about that time, have remained etched in my brain. the sounds of the experience, hearing dial up being connected, the customization and decision making process of creating a screen name. who to connect with, and how? what would you send in an email? how would you make it personal? how would you make it, you? the feeling of the keyboard, and the rhythm you catch when you learn to type. or even remembering proper keyboard placement. the luxury of printing in color. it’s all such a glitched moment now, because it’s an era that has long gone. the accessibility to things has placed greater artistic mastery of how best to translate who you are, through something as impersonal as digital. entering into the next decade and life of who i am, through the internet; celebrating ten years in this space makes it necessary to create a creative check point for what has been done, so we can propel forward. my dad suggested to me in 1996, “you should build your own website”; way ahead of blogs, long before instant messenger and before we were HTML coding for myspace, which is what eventually became my start to the digital world of building an image. while i scoffed at the images of others, laughing at how disconnected these “images” were from real life. i vowed to always take the realest approach to showing who i am, whenever willing to share it. obviously, you drift to and from the private space to the public space. concerns of oversharing. it still blows my mind how ahead the suggestion from my dad was. i was still trying to survive oregon trail, google wasn’t just beginning to form, as a team.

the content of this site, for starters, developed quickly but authentically. acting as a digital notepad of fashion happenings, guided by the fashion calendar provide the premise. but the lingual context that really reached to connect with kids in the hood, to translate fashion to them outside of rap, was the aim. the framework of how women were praised, and how the content created around them either supported or flawed them. a genius study, and true mirror of sociology at play, but also hidden yet represented through image. the styling of hair, down to the texture, the classist placement of images through photographers and the darwinistic process we just call, “casting”. understanding there was more, i; much like the campaigns and casting pieces became hidden yet represented by the content. the choice to show full fashion editorial; or to go through the process of looking at every single piece of clothing that walked the runway not just in new york, but in london, paris and milan; and for one season tokyo, which proved to be too far a departure for my audience. (i know guys, as cool as shit is in japan, those reviews just didn’t stick)

i initially adopted the same process of models for big name brands. as a default example, naomi campbell for versace. the model being dubbed, “the face of..” — and in an effort to represent true content through a better lens of curiosity (bryan boy really ain’t shit) for culture; i dubbed myself ’the face of fashion blogging’ to be the representative for what form of writing seemed to be void of writing, and void of intellect to be honest. dolce & gabbana caught it and did a write up, when they were still somewhat cool. and soon after burberry PR and i got into conversation, which resulted in me being one of the first to live stream a fashion show. Flash to the Kanye tweet, which was a digital transport of the link to Kanye West during the recording sessions of “my beautiful dark twisted fantasy” by ryan leslie. which flashes to the MTV press coverage, the stint as a content writer for chris brown. each moment, like a domino in one string of notches one knocking another into the next. with no further attempts to laundry list my blog resume (gag me); what is most interesting to reflect on for me, is how i’ve managed to represent myself.

today, my work revolves around the representation of others, and in essence, it always has. but if i wasn’t able to represent myself, this type of work; and even taking on the challenge would’ve been out of the question. through study of sociology, i discovered a theory of self actualization, and knew this happened to me in my sophomore year of high school. i remember entering into a really clear head space; which affected the ways i related to people, how selective i was socially and where i fit into this world. understanding that, though small, we can do powerful things that affect and influence the lives of others. through understanding this, i learned to manipulate privacy, and secrecy, through creating an allure. that magnetic approach to generating content, brought people in an the perspective i brought into the fold is what kept them. over time, and through consistent shooting off of content and thought, grew the site.

into the future, with recognition of the past, representing models and artists who haven’t considered pockets within the strategy, is where the challenge lies. outside of myself, the work deals in the responsibility of seeing through flaws to find beauty, and seeing through beauty to find the flaws. it’s about connecting the disconnected, and convincing those not looking to buy to sell. it’s emotional, it’s creative; it’s a strategy. as a check point, that’s as subtle a voice as i could explain it, while also delving into the depths of what i am trying to share. im thinking about every step of the process, every single day, connecting me to you, and the past to the present, the future even further into the future. with responsibility, i’ve always approached every aspect of my work in this same fashion. no pun intended.

4: 4 – A IS FOR ADVERSITY

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the last and stongest, yet most fragile of all our agency values is adversity. i sat and contemplated so much about what adversity means to the industry, to the culture, to the models and lastly, what it has meant for me. there is an interesting cross over of the creative and personal, the logical and the emotional that has become highlighted for me. aspects of process that i find successful creatively or in business have an alignment to things i am aiming to do emotionally, or even romantically. all relationships connect. success should connect not separate. the greatest adversity that one can face is that of themselves. and in the process of development, or even re-development- especially for models, is them facing themselves. to tackle the uncomfortability of body image, unrealistic societal beauty standards versus contrast to fashion fantasy. to face yourself is the ultimate bravery. the hardest challenge of life is to consistently change, and grow past what you even thought possible.

through the development and re-branding of dehonney, we did a lot of emotional work, and built a bond like family to really take push single aspect of career and comfort against the rails. challenging gravity and rejection aggressively, but strategically. knowing when to listen, when to speak, when to push, and when to ride the current. it’s all a delicate dance, and adversity has shown its face in the industry in so many ways. in this space, the promotion of models of color has been what set us apart. with the creation of LITA, this is the same mission; almost an extension of the cultural activism that was represented through the content here on my site. as it is more than a blog, i say models do more than model. they represent the similarities and dissimilarities of culture; they are the fixtures that fashion cannot survive without; they are the silent power players who are gracious enough to say nothing, and let their presence do the speaking for them. this requires great concentration, thorough understanding and true loyalty.

all around the world, girls are vying for the opportunity to model; but the market is not an easy one to survive. those that do, have overcome financial hardship, emotional sacrifice and even time away from family. doing show season, shooting editorial, hitting show room appointments in the off season and still managing to keep a 23-inch waist while standing 5’10” is not for the weak. theres a reason why they’re strutting with confidence in the highest heels- they’ve overcome. girls have moments, some burn out; some get tired, others keep going. there are layers to the adversities that models face. among them, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, racial bias among many other things. what is normal, as an industry hardship could go into a whole other exposé; we’ll save that for another time. the last of our 4-part series of values, the “A” is at the front of the alphabet and leads. adversity sitting at the back end of our acronym, is almost symbollic; in that, you cannot discovery the mastery of the other values, without having to face the most challenging of them all- adversity.

i focus adversity, on the ability to recognize oneself. that recognition, for some, never comes. they live their lives in the ideas of others, existing in the circumstances and critiques of others, without learning to elevate past that. some may find this a challenging notion, as models are expected to fit into ideas. but for women, as a whole and societally; it’s almost as if they need to know the rules in order to break them. the challenges i’ve faced as a mother agent, have resulted in time spent developing models that never get to see the agencies, because creative pathways differ after a year. another adversity. but there is power found alongside the pitfalls. and while i speak intentionally vague to leave room for interpretation, for all- not just model; recognizing yourself, the error of your ways, and how to move forward with corrective action that is self directed- that is the real adversity to face. adverse is to oppose ones desires; but those desires need to be yours before they are defined by anyone else. you are first, always. and the centering of that focus is not selfish, it’s success. to align yourself align, truly, is to do so with the higher power that rules over all.

this is the fourth and final installment of this series
read all 4-parts of this series, for the full development methodology of LITA
for more information visit http://LITAmotheragency.com 

BEHIND THE BOOKING: DEHONNEY FOR ELLE

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the road of redevelopment that we’ve embarked upon together has been one of trust, and delicate pathways of faith. remaining in constant communication regardless of how far we were from each other, my relationship with dehonney is one that i now use to exemplify all other relationships in my life, truly. seen through the lens of jacques weyers, through the editing of elle south africa’s fashion director, dime alara, my first model dehonney is seen in the latest issue of elle south africa’s november issue.

for veteran readers, editorial features are nothing new in this space. but things began to feel stale, and fashion is about moving forward. in the past five years, i’ve taken long strides to get myself to a different place that i didn’t even expect. i never thought i would go to new york city to become an agent, but i did. and it was there that i met dehonney. revelation of process and explanation of terms is what this space has always been about. it’s been about education, it’s been about elevation. in this newly formed series, i wanted to share portions of our process that it took us to get to this point. in the game of modeling, it’s about more than just getting the shot, and each model featured has a story, behind the story you see published. this is the real story behind the booking.

every element, from the simple use of color in her book- we fought for. the release of contract- we fought for. money- we fought for. and we’re still here fighting, behind the scenes, each step of the way. what i’ve learned personally is the importance of knowing when to sit up and fight, and when to sit back in silence. it’s taught me so much about myself, as a mother agent, and inversely; in my own private emotional exchanges as a man. it’s beyond editorial, ladies and gentlemen. the process of development is truly a purpose and, beyond that can allow you a unique experience of transcendence. it’s a battle of outer versus inner. a challenge of control and release, emotion and performance; of silence and solitude. one of extreme patience, intense faith and elevation of faith. we were blessed to be placed in the south african market, while reviewing placements in new york city, and the south african interest for placement was a response that took six months to even come through. the process of fashion and how to bring a girl to a certain level is not one that is ever certain. models must understand this before they even think about entering the arena. dehonney is a master of this.

when we got to south africa, dehonney started working immediately, she was seeing clients and booking nearly off the damn plane. we entered into this market, having a goal to shoot with elle, seeing other girls who had done similar and returned to the states to make a killing in the new york city market. that was our goal. we always function from the mantra, “let’s see what GOD allows” — having a full understanding that all blessings in this industry granted to us are, just that, allowances. we function from a frequency of reveling beauty to receive it. and for just a three month stay, as soon as you come off that plane- the clock is ticking. clock is ticking on your visa, it’s ticking for how much time is left to see clients, and how much time you got to kill every frame you got; because soon enough, the stay is over and you’ll return home with a full book a couple coins, or you’ll return thinking about what you could’ve done and why you’re in the negative after you leave. we’re smarter than this, and came equipped, emotionally and energetically to ramp up to the highest heights possible.

the president of our agency took dehonney on, as a main focus, after i went back and forth to tell dehonney’s story. this proved to be the perfect layer of understanding needed to push through to the other side. she made the call, urging the editors of elle to see dehonney, despite her not being requested. they seen her, loved her and soon enough we got word that she was booking the main fashion editorial, styled by their fashion director. bookings are numbers- if it’s not about the rate, it’s about the exposure- if you can hit both, that’s ideal. for us, elle was at the top of our list, and obviously we wanted to land the cover. which we’ve seen done in this market, so we ramped up. all the creative elements worked perfectly for us in this case, the images came out beautifully and dehonney shot twice with this same photographer while in this market, this past summer. she was also photographed for south african cosmopolitan. the photographer loved her, and the energy and capturing of dehonney’s beauty is evident.

no girl should be forgotten or left behind, and it is something that happens frequently in fashion. we understood the importance to continue to push, and never give up. we continue to push but love that we are able to share the evidence of our elevation here with you. to graduate from producing content that supports the industry, to sharing works that support the evidentiary elements of our own personal success is the top. we didn’t get the cover this time, but we got twelve pages and reached a goal. there is surely more to come, but our shared message to all the girls of the world is- never. give. up.

dehonney is represented by LITA mother agency
she is available for bookings in new york city
email LITA@jeremydante.com 

3: 4 – T IS FOR THROUGH

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in development of the logo for LITA, the letters signifying “love” and “inspired” are italicized. these elements were intentional, as love can be fluid and free, it is flexible, and can withstand gravity defying feats through it’s passage of process. the last two letters, signifying, “through” and “adversity” stand tall and strong. for the last two values support the fluidity and freedom of love. to go through something is never ending. in the process of model development, building an agency and curating experience through creative strategy is unending. much like the fashion calendar, the door to fashion revolves. girls come and go, but the relationships that are found within the confines of fashion and industry are never forgotten. they mark moments and are frozen in time through photography. when taking on the challenge of becoming a mother agent, i had to seriously consider what the job would entail. could i take on the challenge of supporting women, in the toughest corners of work? through emotional coaching, personally, and creative coaching, professionally. could i balance the ins as well as the outs of the ways successful women are built in business and able to withstand as human beings outside of that chaos? would i be able to take the girl, trust the girl and have her trust me with her career, her image and hand her off to the right hands? all of these were questions in my mind, when dehonney originally approached me about becoming her mother agent.

my initial gut reaction was fear, to cast it away as though i had no know-how. to back down from the challenge immediately, before really thinking of the emotional strengths i brought to the game of fashion. in challenges, my creativity brought me through, dehonney and i were taken through many tough moments where we just sat and thought, “what the fuck does this mean?” – many, many times. but we pushed through together, and maintained communication through every single thing. there isn’t one aspect that we don’t discuss. as a new face, rae ventura and my communication style is modeled in the same way. it feels good to push through a challenge and use communication to combat whatever lies ahead, especially when you dont know what could be waiting for you on the other side. the T for “through”, visually represents the twists and turns of process; essentially a fork in the road type of approach. as the third of four values, this value really withstands through all other values and is at the core of them all, truly. while others can bend and twist, through is everlasting, and a pillar of strength that all other values rely upon. pushing through is incredibly valuable as a trait, outside of fashion, and just committing to oneself to transform in all the right ways, to make it to the other side.

transitions are inevitable in every process. transitions have no limitation on frequency, or even time. they are as necessary to growth as oxygen is to human life. in the house of four values that comprise my agency, through is the subtle yet striking value. it sits amidst a core of values that are strong, and keeps them all together. like a mother to her children, the ‘T’ in LITA is always there, and completes a trifecta of strength through it’s gentle nature and seamless threading efforts. in the development process for models, and any artists, there is a waiting period. in this waiting period, you’re left to face the silence of your own stagnancy, and learn how to deal with the challenges of that. sitting in the silence, you learn to speak with purpose and thus move into your purpose through that struggle, and transitional space.

re-evaluation, reproach, regret, recognition- it’s all there. unavoidable, sometimes hard to discuss but necessary to address. with my models, everything works through communication and confrontation. without confronting issues, or even simply addressing them, there is no way to combat them. in my own process as an artist, this is what i have found most helpful through trial and error. without communication, everything dies. in aligning the success of my creative persona with my emotional personality, this is a process that we find many moments of transition through our life as human beings. it’s that push and pull that gets us through, keeps us going and allows us to fail and succeed all the same. failures are necessary to success as darkness is to the light. to approach any transition, you must first accept the commitment of taking the good with the bad. otherwise, you won’t pass through to the other side. in building the house of values of LITA Mother Agency; in thinking of what matters most, personally as well as creatively, what impacts culture; the value of ‘T’ can easily be overlooked since the other values are so strong, singularly. but not without proper measure, the transitional important of ‘T’ in our acronym is what allows our agency to stand.

“T” is really the game changer, and interpersonal connector of all our values, as it can also be interchangeable. early development seen “T” being substituted as transcendence, but with language flow, ‘through’ worked better as a forward motion. whether transcending, translating or transitioning- it’s all moving upward. as the third of four values, the last of our acronyms reinforces all others. all values work together, and can stand alone, but work best when paired together; securing a four corner post of strength.

the fourth and final installment to follow part three is ‘adversity’
follow this 4-part series, and our development methodology at LITA
for more information visit http://LITAmotheragency.com 

2: 4 – I IS FOR INSPIRED

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inspiration has been the driving force for the note taking that has lived within this space. that inspiration has, over the last decade, gone from dreams to reality. i believe that my shared inspiration in this space is what has allowed my career to manifest, my artistry to thrive and for me to come into a greater understanding of who i am through each of those separate pathways. as the second value in the four part structuring of values with L.I.T.A., inspiration follows love and is second to love for it’s strength in leading where love leaves off. inspiration is the identity of where we have been in direct correlation with where we are headed. i am a believer that the reality of our fantasies exists within our inspiration. the ways that we cultivate this inspiration, the ways we embody that, the ways that we reach for those goals- that is all evidence of our reality.

my inspirations lie in four major categories, sound, style, self and beauty. in no particular order, these elements constantly circulate my world and have allow my personality and my drive to dominate in a way that is consistent with my perception. in beauty, i have admired the many models that make up the modeling industry, both male and female. while fashion is the only industry where women thrive, unapologetically, i often find myself identifying with the balance of hard and soft, the vulnerable and the strong. in thinking of the women i am most inspired by, and how best to represent them, my mother agency is named after one of my greatest inspirations, my grandmother.

through my inspiration of her, and the legacy that continues to evolve around her, each of the girls who i choose to develop are made aware of her life, her standards and are thoroughly communicative in every aspect of love. through empowering energy to transform trials to triumphs, and to open ones heart as wide as one’s mind to the world that awaits them on the other side. from jaw dropping images, to sincere redevelopments, my inspiration has been fed to my models, we now have two; and we share inspiration on an on-going basis, just about every day.

from everyday conversations, to sharing struggles and quietly celebrating our goals reached, while waiting to announce- inspiration is among the most intimate aspects of life for artists, and treatment of such should be taken seriously and represented sensitively. after thinking about how best to put my feelings of love into words in part one of this series, i thought, this process of definition never ends. i feel the same of that attempt to define, with ‘inspiration’. in the formation of my mother agency name, it was intention to form love as “inspired”, and to do so in the past tense, because my agency honors the past. in honoring the life of my grandmother, and also for honoring what was for what will be- it goes without saying that understanding the past is empowerment to change it for the future.

that is what we have been doing, at a slow and steady pace with my agency and girls. this thorough nature of process is about building the strongest foundation in order to secure the highest possible success rate in development. fashion has always been about timing, and always will be. but as an industry of beauty, the sense of timing that is more calculated for results is, at times, overlooked. love inspired is a process unto itself. to know love is to be love, and to shine through that as an example in all of your engagements. as part two of this four part series, i hope that, even beyond the mother agency, and with me as a person, you have been inspired, are stunned at what can be done and feel encouraged to push the limits to greater heights in your own ways, in and outside of fashion. my mother agency will be known for the love that my girls have for me, and i for them, in a way that sets us apart, and already has, in building trust. in our house values thus far, in this series, love cannot be anything but inspired when it rings true to those who feel it. i urge you to not only think of your inspiration for part two of this series, but to live that inspiration and to become it. love inspired is action for change.

the third installment to follow part two is ‘through/transcending’
follow this 4-part series, and our development methodology at LITA
for more information visit http://LITAmotheragency.com 

1: 4 – L IS FOR LOVE

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the first of a four part installment, this series will capitalize and expand upon values and perceptions, which construct the work that we have been doing and will do at LITA mother agency. equipped with myself and now two girls to our roster, we all share a sense of loyalty, understanding and sensitivity to time; as well as patience through facilitation of a higher power. in my own understanding of just how important communicating in this space is to my work, how connected i am to you as an audience and to my own mind; let this serve as a reminder when i fall short on my own path. allow my own recognition in writing, be a therapeutic and prayer-like practice, as it has been for me, in my life as an artist. i regard my girls as artists themselves. they build, develop and question elements of themselves to move forward to anticipate growth privately, and to sense cultural shifts publicly. in areas not just limited to fashion; what becomes stylized are their minds. through this mental strengthening comes the indestructible force of love. as each letter of my mother agency spells out a short form version of my grandmother’s name, estelita; i find it vital to reveal it’s values in detail.

representation is more than just an image, its about connection. it’s about a true commitment and in this four part series, love, like many other things in life- is the starting point. the birth of a child, the union of two individuals, the catalyst of confidence following a pursuit of actualization of self- these are processes that have lingered in this space, hiding at times, between the lines- but visible to my true readers. translated through an energy of transcendence; love is always the first. i contemplated this series in april, on the 8th day of the month. and really took time to re-think love. following the passing of my grandmother, and my grandfather a short three weeks after her- love had to be re-examined. things that i valued at a higher level were meaningless, the meaningless seem exhaustive of valuable energy and time. in my own thought process, i found myself thrust into a dream realized. and since that day in april, have been sitting with the thoughts of the first and foremost value of my creative work done as a mother agent- to love. aligning the similarities and dissimilarities of love- in friendship, in romance, of intimacy, of family- through cousins, and love from mothers and fathers to sons and daughters. bonds are bonds, many obligations are done as form of routine while others are done with elevated sense of care and concern. it’s in those intentional motions that the relationship of mother agency and model are most powerful. but in the unseen, or sometimes unspoken, there is power as well. where senses lead, is where success lives. and as we entered our first international placement, in cape town, south africa- faith never fails and we causing a response that only breaks the dawn where we’ve sat waiting patiently for the last, almost two years.

love is about dedication, and pushing through difficult moments. love endures, it strives but still needs to be fed, inspired and consoled. while it can be forgiving, it can also be demanding; at times out of control and needing restraint. love is all things. among them strength and suffering; which leads the important third component of love- which is balance. balance is found in support, understanding and awareness. love is all of these things. love is uninvited, but welcomed when it comes to stay. it is quiet but always felt. love wakes at night, sleeps in the day and acknowledges no one’s agenda but it’s own. love is life, in all it’s unpredictability and love is the answer to all of those questions we have. love is private, and love is secure, but through the process of privacy and security needs an opportunity to grow. love can shine publicly, when it’s been loved preciously before it’s debut. winning and losing are a part of the game of love, and true love will withstand through failure to secure the win. love holds to hope, the way the faithful cling to prayer. love is about liberation, and is not about restraint. and in this, i love you.

the second installment to follow part one is ‘inspired’
follow this 4-part series, and our development methodology at LITA
for more information visit http://LITAmotheragency.com 

SOUND VS. STYLE: CARDI B.

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the story of cardi b. is that of a cinderella story. but in the most american way. american in the way of a brown family venturing into the states to make a better way for their children, only to be met with poverty stricken circumstances and struggles of project living. american in the way that immigrants often times go to community colleges to cut costs on education. and that’s what belcalis almanzar did. while attending community college and working at a mid-town grocer, she decided to enter into the world of adult performing to spike her own financial status. and that she did. with means to an end, the bronx girl planned to work as and adult performer from 18 at 25, eventually ending her time in the clubs at 23 years old upon social media superstardom.

in an age of social media artificiality, filters and make believe; cardi b. defines a brand of genuine appeal through simply being real, from a human level. never one to shy away from the spotlight and share her experience- struggles and glory alike; anyone that comes across anything she’s done or doing is immediately taken with her personality. one aspect of her career that was almost outshadowed by her superstar personality was her music. after her entire feed on instagram went viral for literal years, she was then cast on VH1’s “love and hip-hop” as the sparkle from their own star was beginning to dim for the new york edition of the franchise. She starred on the show for two seasons, which showed her trying to get DJ’s and producers to take her music seriously; while also knocking Billboard on it’s back with her mixtape-gone-major smash, “bodak yellow”. the single shattered radio airwave requests as card’s star rose into historic hip-hop territory, being the longest running #1 single by a female rapper atop billboard since lauryn hill, in 1998. while her style is a culmination of female rap greatness, while cardi manages to encapsulate her own unique interpretation of everything from homaged rap flows, to inspired looks on the red carpet. it is with great recognition, that i share my adoration for who she has become as an artist. against the odds, defying what others thought or even didn’t think possible for her. today she drops her first full length studio LP. appropriately title, “invasion of privacy” the album boasts 13 back-to-back tracks of sonic greatness. one of the strongest efforts that i’ve ever heard by any female artist, let alone any rapper at all. cardi has a unique way of showcasing her personality through rhymes in a way that is thoughtful and as close to what is current as anything out- across the board. she’s a pure trendsetter who understands the path that was created for her by the artists who’ve come before her. for this, she is honorable. while i don’t often take time to etch out song by song reviews; as cardi is an exception of many things- i will make an exception for her.

the album starts off heavy, packing powerful bars with even more powerful production, with “get up 10” where cardi talks about odds being stacked against her and the details of her come up. this is an especially important starting point for the album because it shows cardi’s own grounded nature. “drip” features migos, and was dropped at the top of this week with the intention of creating buzz for the friday release of the project. “bickenhead” sees cardi borrowing melodic queues from project pat, as the ‘folio of rap bangers starts it’s upward climb. “bodak yellow” enters the sequence at track 4, reminding us of the smash that we had all been playing in our cars and on our phones, and bobbing heads to at the club all last winter and summer. coming in at track 5, the mid-point of the album is “be careful” which again dips in tempo and adds an homage to big pun, while cardi is heard flexing a little bronx muscle to an ex love, heeding the warning of caution by a woman scorned. track 6 sees cardi taking a more commercial route of fun and free on the chance the rapper assisted, “best life”. a show of optimism that allows us to celebrate with cardi and all her success, as hard hitting hip-hop takes a backseat to a sweet flow that is dripping in dollars and smiles. borrowing from pete rodriguez’ 1967 hit “i like it like that”, cardi sprawls in spanish flavor amidst a feature of bad bunny and j. balvin on track 7, aptly titled “i like it”; which gives you that washington height in the summer vibe, perfectly. on the track cardi tells us all the things she likes from text messages from exes begging for a second chance to diamonds and handsome men. kehlani shares a track with cardi on the album on “ring”; which shares a softer side of the female rap star, as she debates whether to call or not call the dude she’s feeling, through vibes of pride. my favorite track on all the album is “money bag” – which allows cardi to dominate in a space that could easily be the musical soft spot of iconic rappers like lil kim and foxy brown, in today’s musical stratosphere. “money bag” enters the sequencing to remind us that this is a hip-hop album, and true to rap form- boasting and showing one’s own money takes center stage as cardi raps about girls so pretty that they should bridesmaids, but still just as hood to be ‘gang, gang’. track 10 showcases the single drop of hit “bartier cardi”; which seen cardi dropping a glitzy music video, and celebrates 100 million streams on the musical platform, spotify. YG rolls through with the ease of california on track 11, where sex appeal and repetitive lyrics of designer bags cite cardi as being bad. everything from physical features to album features are game on this record, which is yet another track that is single-worthy. “thru the phone” is where cardi shines through rap vulnerability and feminine strength, sharing a story of woman scorned versus heart on the sleeve warn; cardi sings beautifully on the record and showcases a dimension not often seen through her uptown bronx exterior. i love this record and admire cardi’s artistic development most, on this record, which is the antithesis to all the bangers she’s had thus far. the album closes out with a feature from SZA, on “i do” as cardi shares sentiment on female empowerment, being your own boss and bad bitches being a gift from god.

all in all, cardi’s style evolution as a celebrity is secondary to her rap career and ability through musical composition and success through executing the job. the album is a milestone, not only for cardi; but for all rappers and especially for women. to rise though the odds, and mark your own seat for success is what the american dream is all about. i congratulate cardi b. and atlantic records on this amazing showing of female rap. i encourage all to listen to this album to enjoy it, and if you do, to share it with others with encouragement to listen. this project is evidence that culture has won.

cardi b.’s first studio release with atlantic records is available on all music platforms
purchase the album here or stream through apple music now