Cardi B's scheduled Coachella debut is equal parts a publicist's dream and utterly divine timing. The 25-year-old has had no shortage of historic winsthese days, with the latest victory arriving merely hours before her highly anticipated (and admittedly costly) performance was slated to go down: this regular degular shmegular girl from the Bronx now has the No. 1 album in the country.
From her already Gold-certified debut Invasion of Privacy earning 255,000 equivalent album units its opening week to Cardi becoming the fifth female to land on the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Hot 200 to announcing her pregnancyon the Saturday Night Live stage to hosting the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon all in the past week and change, I've already used up my allotted word count listing her recent achievements and we haven't even gotten to her highly anticipated performance yet.
Needless to say, all eyes have been on the eccentric, unfiltered and empowering entertainer. While Cardi admits she's still getting accustomed to her meteoric rise into the spotlight, she handled the mammoth amounts of pressure like a veteran OG, baby bump and all. With a montage of throwback photos glowing behind her on massive LED screens, Cardi opened her set Sunday night (April 15) with her motivational and confessional track, "Get Up 10," the same song that kicks off her star-studded debut album.
With the desert sun slowly beginning to descend, Cardi B was joined by a squad of dancers, who broke out into a choreographed routine as she first addressed the crowd with her signature greeting, "Washpoppin' Coachella?"
Cardi B then transitioned into giving the festival crowd a brief introduction (one that may not have been necessary for those watching at home) quickly running through her earlier tracks "Lick" and "Foreva," the latter of which features the now-meme'd line that accented her glow-up from reality TV star to full-fledged rapper: "If a bitch beef with me, we gon' beef foreva."
"I'm running out of my breath, y'know my pregnant ass," Cardi B stated, several energetic twerks later, going on to recruit the help of her collaborator G-Eazy. The two performed their 3x-platinum banger, "No Limit," noticeably shaking the crowd out of a blissful daze as the audience began eagerly chanting the lyrics (and taking note of Cardi's not-so-subtle modification referencing the latest development in her personal life that she and Offset are expecting their first child).
Behind the pair, Cardi's crew of back-up dancers began taking their talents to the custom set design's metal structure, dangling off the top and showing off their Cirque du Soleil-esque moves on the supporting poles while donning white bikini tops. In other words, this was a move that the #BardiGang likely will interpret as an official FU to anyone who doubted her or strangely still dwells on her past as a stripper (and rightfully so).
Cardi B, who proudly paid homage to the iconic 90s group TLC with her all-white outfit and multiple high pigtails a la Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes during her set, got things moving with her braggadocious anthem, "Money Bag," before taking a swift moment to address the thousands in attendance and count her blessings.
"When God puts you somewhere, only he can take you not," she quipped. "No human, not the devil, juhuuuuurrdd."
As her flock of 90s-inspired dancers playfully flashed the crowd their white undies, Cardi B welcomed YG to the stage to perform their collaborative track, "She Bad," a track she hilariously credits her pregnancy with. ("And that's how I got pregnant y'all. Just like that. But look at this drip baby.")
While the transition into her next song, "Drip," was an easy one to predict after such an obvious segue, the rapper performed the banger-in-the-making sans Migos, something that is an interesting choice given her highly publicized engagement to Offset. Regardless of the missing special guests, Cardi was quick to make up for it, with Chance the Rapper casually skipping out to sing his contributions to their joint track, "Best Life."
At this point in Cardi B's performance, it became crystal clear that she has entered a new chapter in her career, one signified by both the ability to create hit-after-hit AND execute them flawlessly live. Her maturation as an artist and a performer is happening at lightning speed in front of our eyes and the world can't get enough of her Binderella story—especially not those who have been tuning in long before she was collaborating with the likes of Bruno Mars and dominating national television and the charts alike.
After thanking Chance for joining her on stage, Cardi was soon welcoming Kehlani in his place (aptly introducing her with her nickname Baelani), with the Bay Area native majestically belting out the deeply personal lyrics of "Ring," making for one of the most memorable and enjoyable live music moments of the entire weekend. Kehlani took her time exiting the stage, bowing down to Cardi in a gesture showcasing the glowing pride and respect her fans are now joyfully expressing as they rapidly tweet their reactions online.
DJ Sparkx, Cardi's longtime DJ, helped rile up the crowd in between tracks, with the energy soon shifting to make way for her more upbeat, club-ready songs. As exemplified by her striking growth since her days on Love & Hip-Hop, Bardi is increasingly in command of her audience and her material alike. Thankfully, while a lot has changed since then, Cardi has proven time and time again that her larger-than-life personality hasn't been eclipsed or compromised by her plethora of successes. With festive gemstones carefully placed around her eyelids, a detail that matched her trademark bejeweled nails, and her tried-and-true witty personality intact, Cardi's unfaltering authenticity continues to be her most important secret weapon, fueling her hard-earned reputation as the hottest in the streets.
While her lighthearted sense of humor and remarkable charm undeniably adds to the quality of her live show, Cardi B's Coachella performance was truly for the fans who have had her debut album on repeat since it dropped just over a week ago. From performing the cautionary "Be Careful" (even performing her singing parts live) to breaking out into a salsa for a quick rendition of "I Like It" and "Finesse" to being joined by 21 Savage for "Bardi Cartier" to closing with her definitive breakout monster of a single "Bodak Yellow," this performance undeniably further cements Cardi B's ascent into rap superstardom. The best part? She deserves it all. The second best part? She's just getting started.