Cardi's verses are the highlight in every track; she never misses a chance to be the star. Her near constant references to luxury brands make the style feel a little older, as does her use of old slang ("hoes down, g's up") and older pop culture figures (the infamous temper of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes gets a shout out. But that luxury label lifestyle is undoubtedly reflective of her post-"Bodak Yellow" lifestyle and success — Invasion went gold on release thanks to sales largely from that track before its release. Ironically, it's on "Bodak Yellow" where she preaches that you can keep your money by staying on a budget. And those old references, they're to back up her place in and reverence for hip-hop figures past. They show that she knows her history, and signaling that demands respect from 'heads along with her desire to be part of it. She also references waist trainers, the exclusive territory of Kardashians and Instagram influencers, and her past as a stripper, saying about the latter, "'Fore I fixed my teeth, man, those comments used to kill me / But never did I change, never been ashamed / Never did I switch, story stayed the same."
Cardi tells her story in a totally uncensored way on Invasion, telling us about her decisions both good and bad, and lays bare her flaws, weaknesses, and strengths. She seems to detail a lot of her relationship with Offset, from the good (where she name checks him) to the bad (where she doesn't, but cheating is a recurring theme).
If you want to find Cardi's biggest influence, look no further than her own lyrics: Beyoncé gets named checked in three different songs and that "eat the cake, Anna Mae" lyric gets a run through the Cardi filter. It's easy to understand why: Bey started out under the direction of her father Matthew's management, courting the mainstream. With her last two albums, she's been centering her work around her life and Black issues, bringing the mainstream along. Cardi takes the best lesson she can from Bey and builds on it: lead, don't follow.
A cursory look at her producers, who are numerous, show that other than a flirtation with Benny Blanco (Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber) on the aforementioned"Thru Your Phone," she has opted to work with the men (they're all men) producing for Migos, Future, Yo Gotti, 21 Savage, and a crew you'd expect her to have access to. She does "Be Careful" with Frank Dukes (Camila Cabello, Drake, The Weeknd) —that is one of the album's strongest and most commercial — and does "She Bad" with DJ Mustard (YG, Rihanna) for a song ode to the Bloods that feels a little four years ago, as Mustard's productions tend to. Her collab on "I Do" with SZA, the frequent Migos producer (and random white Canadian dude who also produces Drake) Murda Beatz in conjunction with the German production duo CuBeatz is the weirdest thing on Invasion, not only for the crew on it but for the atunal but captivating melody that Cardi's lyrics eat up.
It's not the production that makes this a Cardi B album. There's no singular Svengali pulling her strings here: the through line is Cardi herself. It shows in the sequencing, which front loads the album with hardcore tracks heavy in brags and dropping name brands rather than singles with strong choruses, which are relegated to the end. For better or worse, this is singularly Cardi B's vision and that's something not a lot of female artists can say about their debut album.
Read These Stories Next: