TDE’s President Makes A Compelling Argument For Why Cardi B Is Like Tupac

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Cardi B released her major label debut album, Invasion Of Privacy, last Friday (April 6). Within hours, the Bronx, New York rapper achieved gold certification for the Atlantic Records LP featuring YG, Chance The Rapper, Migos, and SZA, among others. In the days ahead the music industry will see if Cardi, following this weekend’s SNL revelation, becomes the first pregnant Hip-Hop artist with a #1 album since Lauryn Hill nearly 20 years ago.

In the meantime, this new album has become a leading topic among Rap fans. Within one day of Invasion‘s release, Terrence “Punch” Henderson of Top Dawg Entertainment declared on Twitter that “Cardi B is 2Pac.” Punch, who in addition to being label president, is a longtime rapper, clarified the remark in a guest opinion-editorial at DJBooth.

Acknowledging that he “ruffled a few feathers” by comparing one of Rap’s biggest new stars to a late legend, Punch also states, “Because Tupac touched people on such a deep level emotionally, many of us feel it’s our personal responsibility to make sure he isn’t presented as anything less than perfect.” Historically, TDE’s roster has shown great respect for Tupac Shakur, featuring an unearthed interview with the slain rapper on 2015’s Grammy Award-winning To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar.

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After acknowledging Tupac’s conviction on songs like “Dear Mama,” Punch points out that Shakur never let the truth get in the way of compelling songwriting (even down to lyrics mentioning his father being “passed away” at a time when Billy Garland was alive). “Pac wasn’t as skilled technically as some of his iconic counterparts, like a JAY-Z or Nas or [The Notorious] B.I.G., and yet, he’s still viewed by many as the greatest rapper of all time. Why is that? The answer: a combination of passion, content, delivery, and honesty,” Punch opines.

The rapper/exec continues, “Which brings me to Cardi B…I won’t pretend to know as much about Cardi as I do about Tupac, but from what I do know, she embodies some of those same qualities. She’s a straight-shooter right from the hip. Her interviews are as raw as her music. She’s politically incorrect, yet, her charisma means you cannot stop watching and listening, whether you agree or disagree. She says exactly what she’s feeling at the time the question is delivered. And I believe her! Pac represented ‘the Have Nots’ as a whole. Cardi reps a particular section of ‘the Have Nots,’ which will only continue to grow if she keeps going.”

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Invasion Of Privacy addresses Cardi’s past as an exotic dancer trying to make ends meet. Cardi’s verses proclaim her as the first six-figure earner in her family and somebody who was ostracized during her adolescence. As the 25-year-old born Belcalis Almanzar refuses to let her stripping past be held against her, she also asserts that she never accepted money for sex on songs like LP-opener “Get Up 10.” Later in his op-ed, Punch points to some of the same blunt honesty and self-deprecation found in both artists’ music. Both a symbol of sexuality and dogged rags-to-riches persistence, Cardi is unafraid to admit enhancements to her face, body, and style. Shakur lyrics acknowledged his mother’s crack cocaine battles and his sensitivity in the age of Rap machismo. Both artists also state that money fuels their fire.

Beyond aesthetics, Punch’s comparison is also rooted in Rap deliveries. “Cardi also has a cadence and flow that’s similar to Pac’s. She emphasizes and elongates words to stress points for impact, like ‘I make money movesss’ and ‘Don’t get comfortableeee.‘” To illustrate this point, the Watts, California native urges listeners to compare 2017’s “Bodak Yellow” to 1996’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah.”

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At his conclusion, Punch charges, “Obviously, ‘Cardi B is 2Pac’ is a metaphor. Cardi is one album into her career. Of course she can’t compare with his body of work. Pac came from a revolutionary background. Of course there’s no comparison when it comes to his social impact. I’m not saying she’s the heir apparent to Tupac Shakur or that she’s the second coming, but Cardi B does embody a lot of Pac’s best qualities and his [artistic] DNA is in her blood.”

Punch’s entire “Cardi B Is 2Pac” editorial at DJBooth.

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Do you think Punch’s point lands?

#BonusBeat: This 2017 TBD episode examines the rise of Cardi B and the ongoing female takeover in Hip-Hop:

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