Cardi B's new single, "Press," dropped at midnight, stirring up quite the response from critics and fans, who are actively dissecting Cardi's every lyric, photo, and tweet to figure out exactly what — or who — she's targeting. Ironically, this kind of response may be the very thing Cardi bemoaned in the two-minute track (and, yes, we realize we're doing the same thing, but I promise there's a point!).
On the surface, "Press" might seem like it's about the media. But, if you read what Cardi's saying in the track and pay attention to the things she says in real life, you'll find that she's not interested in furthering President Donald Trump's "Fake News" narrative (she's said as much in interviews). Let's take a look at what she's saying.
"Bitches be pressed (woo) / Bitches be pressed (pressed)," she says in the intro. Notice she used the word "pressed" and not "press." This seems to indicate that she's talking about being pressured by the outside world — her fans, the media, other celebrities — to maintain a certain image (what that is may depend on who you talk to on any given day). No matter what she does, Cardi knows the outside world is ready to comment and "press" their expectations upon her, however unfair. That's where the art for the single comes into play.
Cardi released a series of photos along with the track that speak volumes. In one series, Cardi's handcuffed and naked, walking through a swarm of men of the media, paparazzi, and law enforcement who all look annoyed and angry. She's a vulnerable, blank canvas, exposed for all the world to see, and you can guarantee that people are "pressing" their judgments on her.
The other photo, in which Cardi holds handcuffs up to her neck while she sits in a courtroom, seems to reference infamous serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who murdered seven men between 1989 and 1990 and inspired the film Monster. (Cardi also tweeted an image of Wuornos while promoting the track.) The public viewed Wuornos as a soulless killer, often disregarding her claims that her victims had raped or attempted to sexually assault her because she was a sex worker. It didn't really matter what Wuornos said; the public had made up its mind about her long before her trial dates began.
Throughout the track, the Grammy Award-winner talks about being a monster.
"Bitches be pressed (pressed)/They knew how I'm coming, real bitch in the flesh (woo)/Who the fuck she gon' check? (Who?)/She be talking that shit, talkin' out of her neck (Brr)/Put blood on her dress (woo)/Bitches be mad when they see Cardi step in the spot (Whoa)/Said that you 'bout it, we know that you not/I'ma pull up on bitches as soon as I drop"
Additionally, "pressed" can imply that she feels weighed down by drama. At one point, she even says she's "open to violence," making it clear that this track is more of a warning to her enemies than it is about bloggers. Cardi may pay attention to the media, but she's in no way on board with following Trump's lead and labeling the press as "the enemy of the people" — especially after she's called Trump a "madman" and worse.
That's not to say that she doesn't mention the press, of course. In the chorus, she explicitly states, "Cardi don't need more press" before talking about her affinity for violence.
"Cardi don't need more press/Kill 'em all, put them hos to rest/Walk in, bulletproof vest/Please tell me who she gon' check/Murder scene, Cardi made a mess"
She continues on this theme in the second verse:
"Done with the talkin', I'm open to violence/Ask anybody; they know I'm about it"
It seems that the chorus and the second verse are in direct response to some of Cardi's more notorious beefs — which is why we can't avoid mentioning Nicki Minaj. Throughout the track, Cardi refers to herself as a "monster" and even conjures up Wuornos' imagery. It's an interesting move, considering Nicki claimed the monster persona years ago, most notably in Kanye West's single, "Monster."
Additionally, the second verse may refer to Cardi's infamous NYFW feud with Nicki, in which Cardi proved she has no problem getting physical (or throwing her designer heels).
So, what does all of this mean? In short, Cardi is as bad as ever — and she's not going to let the press, her critics, or her enemies slow her down.