Best Track: Back It Up
It's doubtless Cardi B is the most bankable and important export from Love and Hip Hop thus far. When she dropped the surprising and whip-worthy Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 in 2016, she sounded raw and fresh, but her flow and presence on some hard-hitting production was already top-tier. There was only one way to go.
GBMV2 continues the slow reveal of Cardi as an artist, and not just a personality speaking over records (like Big Body Bes for instance). She might be abrasive and incredibly entertaining to watch, but there's much more to Cardi B than rapping about stripping and pulling up on people. The heartfelt "Never Give Up", featuring Josh X, may be a companion piece to "Selfish" from her first mixtape. Cardi appears to be unattainable, a woman in control of her finances and her direction, so much so you'd expect her to be intolerant of weakness in a significant other, but "Never Give Up" displays an insightful, caring, and emotionally intelligent individual. It's a song that points out just how far Cardi can go, there's more to her music than sex and violence.
That said, the sex and violence is fantastic. Opener "Bronx Season" is New York to the core, and after just 42 seconds she spits the best line of 2017, "the only time I hold my tongue is when I'm sucking dick". The production isn't quite as aggressive as GBMV1, but that just gives Cardi more room to flex and showcase her ability. "Leave That Bitch Alone" is an impressive display of double-time rapping and breath control, while "Rollin" displays an ear for melody and flow not often seen in newcomers. On "Back It Up", with Konshens and Hoodcelebrityy, she confirms her status as a real rapper, dropping into a Jamaican flow and accent, employing Patois and some difficult lyrical feats.
Cardi's most valuable asset though is her vibrant and aggressive personality. The final two tracks, "Pull Up" and "Pop Off", might be the last times she puts this kind of aggression on wax. During interviews on the promo run for this tape, multiple outlets warned her that pulling up and popping off on anyone who disrespects her is going to be more difficult now that she's achieved real fame and fortune. Her status may force her to move a little more cautiously, especially in the age of social media and camera phones. One cannot doubt her street cred though, she's proven capable of popping off at the slightest provocation. If she never gets into another fight again, it won't be a sign of meekness, just an acknowledgement she's more than a video vixen or hood personality.