On Feb. 5, Cardi B released the second single from her upcoming album. The new single, titled “Up,” is a featureless bop that places Cardi B at the center of herself—seductive, brazen, the baddest. “Up,” which follows the chart-topping “WAP” with Megan Thee Stallion, is a highly-listenable, power-driven banger with lines that wiggle into your ear and stick with you for the rest of the day. Lines that have you dancing in the privacy of doing the dishes, loading your laundry.

Racks stack up Shaq height… Birkin Bag, Bardi back and all you b*tches f*cked… If it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s up then it’s stuck…

Unfortunately, the arrival of Cardi’s new single has cast even more doubt on the release date of her sophomore album

The morning Cardi dropped “Up,” the rapper joined Zane Lowe on New Music Daily for an interview. During their talk, Cardi disclosed what happened to her 2020 album plans and how the record is coming along now. “I really wanted to put out an album last year, but it was like, ‘I feel like I don’t have the right songs,’” she told Lowe.

“I have recorded so many songs. I think I’ve got like 50 songs recorded, and I’m just still not satisfied. If I’m not satisfied, I’m just not satisfied, but I really want to put out an album this year. I feel like I have no choice now. Now, I feel like I exceeded my limit of holding. I just need to stop with the fear.”

The idea of Cardi B holding back out of fear is confounding. The woman with style built for strutting, a woman who has achieved a profound level of fame, is afraid of following up 2018’s Invasion of Privacy? Though Cardi B’s debut is certainly intimidating, we’re surprised that the artist is shying away from the bar she set for herself. According to Cardi, one problem is with her process, one that depends on living.

“It’s hard, right now, also, to do music when nothing is happening,” she said to Zane Lowe. “We’re not doing nothing. What can I rap about? You’re not really doing shit. And I’m not a person that likes to talk about my sensitive feelings. I don’t like to always rap about when I’m super sad and everything.” Later in the interview, Cardi professes to need “like eight more songs.”

After Invasion of Privacy, Cardi went straight into the business of herself

Fashion Nova. A small acting role in Jennifer Lopez’s Hustlers. An eight episode series on Facebook called Cardi Tries. Getting manicures with U.S senator Bernie Sanders. And, most recently, landing her first starring role in a major film with the upcoming comedy Assisted Living. Since her confident and dazzling debut, Cardi B has been very busy maintaining the business of being Cardi. She’s building something, a brand, a fierce way of living and thinking. We are excited for all of the fashion collabs Cardi has in her future, the makeup, the movies.

But what about recording new music? When does going into the business of yourself get in the way of being in the studio creating the album you’ve been promising fans for months? When you think of other rappers and hip-hop artists who’ve ventured outside of their expertise, it usually doesn’t happen so quickly, on the heels of a debut.

Would Unapologetic or ANTI have happened if Rihanna had launched Fenty after Music of the Sun?

Sophomore slump, or in the pursuit of perfection?

Look, we’re not here to doubt Cardi B. There is something to be said for taking your time. In a recent “pep talk” with Mariah Carey, the wisened icon advised Cardi to hold true to herself, her instinct to wait, and reminded her that we all want her to make the best album she can. It’s true. We want the new Cardi B. But only if it’s her, the realest sophomore album she can make.

“WAP” has hit platinum three times, while “Up” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both singles are reported to be on her forthcoming sophomore album. Already, Cardi’s new album is shaping into a banger with an even higher ceiling than the one created by Invasion of Privacy.

So, where is Cardi B’s new album? It’s on the way, due out in 2021. Hopefully, after feeling the love “Up” received this month, Cardi has all the steam she needs to finish this album. The charts don’t lie; there’s no reason to doubt what she’s doing. We just hope the new Cardi B arrives sooner than later. Another film appearance won’t cut it, or even come close, to the high of listening to Cardi B own her contemporaries while riding a snarling rhythm.

Here, along with Cardi B’s, are the Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums of 2021.

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