NEW YORK (AP) —Rappers bragging about crimes from their pasts — or warning about those they may commit in the future — are part of the genre’s lore. From Jay Z to Snoop Dogg to Future, street cred for rappers has often been solidified by detailing their grimy acts in everything from raps to interviews.
So it would seem that Cardi B’s recently discovered admission to drugging and robbing men during her stripper past would be just another example of that. But in the era of #MeToo, some are wondering whether it’s time to Cancel Cardi B in the same way R. Kelly has been largely muted following allegations that he repeatedly sexually abused young women and girls.
Still, drug references and other controversies have hurt other rappers in recent years. Reebok ended its relationship with Rick Ross in 2013 following heavy criticism of lyrics where he rapped about giving a woman the drug MDMA, known as Molly, and having his way with her on the song “U.O.E.N.O.” CeeLo Green saw his career wane after facing charges in a felony drug case (he pleaded no contest to giving a woman ecstasy at a 2012 dinner). After entering the plea, Green posted a series of messages on Twitter, including one that read: “Women who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!”
Lil Wayne came under fire in 2013 when he compared a sex act to the beating that killed 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi on a remix of rapper-producer Future’s song, “Karate Chop.” PepsiCo cut ties with Lil Wayne afterward.
Around the same time, the company pulled an online Mountain Dew ad — developed by Tyler, the Creator — that was criticized for portraying racial stereotypes and making light of violence toward women.
Some felt that if Cardi B were a man, especially in the #MeToo era, she would have suffered greater backlash for her admission. Brand and reputation management expert Eric Schiffer said he felt there was a “slight double standard” when it came to Cardi B’s situation.
But Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, added that Cardi B wasn’t glorifying the act of drugging someone in a song and that she took ownership of her actions.
“That’s the distinction, and Last month, Cardi won her first Grammy Award — becoming the first solo female to pick up best rap album. Her latest single, “Please Me,” featuring Bruno Mars, is her seventh Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in just two years. She had two major commercials for Pepsi — which aired during the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards — and also has collaborations with the fashion brand Fashion Nova and shoe company Steve Madden.
As for future deals for Cardi?
“My bet is that there are many brands that are not going to throw down big checks in the short-term, given the news,” Schiffer said.
But Cardi has bounced back before: Though she threatened fellow rapper Nicki Minaj during fashion week last year at a glitzy party for Harper’s Bazaar magazine and threw a shoe at Minaj, the magazine still put her on the cover this year. And she found out about her Grammy nominations on the same day she was in a New York City criminal court for a misdemeanor assault charge for a fight at a strip club.
“I don’t think it’s going to stop any endorsements. I would be very, very, very, very surprised if anything stops,” Scott said.