Cardi B Is Better Than Ever in Return to the Stage

Cardi B returns to the stage at Mala Luna music festival for her first full-length performance since giving birth to her daughter Kulture in June.

Cardi B Mala Luna
Complex News

Image via Complex News/Sarah Jasmine Montgomery

Cardi B Mala Luna

On Saturday at Mala Luna music festival, Cardi B returned for her first full-length performance since giving birth to daughter Kulture in June. For die-hard fans, Cardi’s absence from the stage has been filled by a consistent presence on Instagram, interviews, and award show appearances. But her return this weekend showed Cardi spent the past four months recovering from giving birth and putting together an incredible live show.

Since she dropped Invasion of Privacyin April, few fans have been able to get a glimpse of Cardi live, let alone a full hour-long performance. That changed for attendees at ScoreMore’s third annual Mala Luna Music Festival in San Antonio, Texas. Wearing a tight black one-piece, Cardi took to the stage rapping her victorious Invasion of Privacy opener “Get Up 10.” To say she snapped back from Kulture would be an understatement. Looking better than ever, she gave off Khaleesi vibes as she hopped around the stage, flaunting a 24-plus inch platinum blonde wig.

Y’all remember that time at Day for Night when Cardi B was 30 minutes late for her set, came on stage, did Bodak Yellow and like two other songs and then bounced? Wild.

— Hayden 😎💃🏻 (@justpassonby) September 30, 2018

It's important to remember, not too long ago, Cardi’s last appearance in Texas wasn't met with the same fervor. After her dominant run in the summer of 2017 with “Bodak Yellow,” she performed a lackluster headlining slot at Day For Night Festival in Houston last December. Long before announcing her pregnancy or debut album (and fresh off her “Motorsport” collab), Cardi performed a couple songs, told the crowd “it’s too cold y’all,” and dipped.

Cardi B Mala 2

Since then, Cardi's “I Like It” and “Girls Like You” went No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. She also made headlines when her beef with Nicki Minaj imploded and an infamous shoe was thrown at New York Fashion Week in September. And a few weeks ago, she turned herself into the NYPD for alleged involvement in an attack on two women in Queens. On Saturday night, though, Cardi did everything she could to prove she's made it through her eventful year unscathed.

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Through the first eight songs on Saturday night, Cardi showcased her new choreography. She twerked to “Backin’ It Up” and “Money Bag,” before debuting the first live performance of her new single “Money.” Every song went off, and Cardi knew it. As she bounced up and down to “Drip,” a bop off her album featuring Migos, Cardi’s earpiece fell out and dangled for the next few tracks. She brushed it to the side, feeling herself too much to pay it any mind, and the show went on.

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Cardi’s dancers left the stage as she took on Invasion of Privacy’s slow jams “Ring” and “Be Careful.” Without an earpiece, she flexed an impressive vocal performance on “Be Careful,” and it was singing—not rapping—when Cardi was her most expressive on stage.

Sprinkled throughout her performance, Cardi made jokes about farting thanks to Tex-Mex, fired off a few “oooowww”s and “okurrr”s, and proved to be the exact same bitch we’re used to seeing on IG. Despite her multi-platinum records and No. 1 hits, Cardi’s fame still feeds off of her addictive social media presence—a connection made even more obvious as Instagram posts from the past year popped up in the trippy background visuals.

The night did include a couple hiccups. During shortened cuts of “Foreva,” “Lick,” and “Wash Poppin,” Cardi abruptly left the stage and let her dancers take over. The crowd buzzed while waiting for her return, whispering about a possible outfit swap. But she returned unchanged, likely pausing to fix her earpiece, or take a break. For fans who have been following Cardi prior to “Bodak Yellow,” it also felt slightly disappointing to miss out on the nostalgic mixtape highlights that established Cardi’s sound early on as a regular degular girl from the Bronx.  

After returning to the stage, Cardi honed in on her Latin Pop finesse, performing verses from J. Lo’s “Dinero” and DJ Snake’s new single “Taki Taki.” The highlight of her set was easily “I Like It.” For San Antonio’s bilingual audience—the city boasts a majority Hispanic population—Cardi’s crossover into Latin music is not only welcome, but fitting for a festival that also hosted Latin stars like Nicky Jam and Becky G.

Cardi closed out her set with “Bodak Yellow,” her history and career-making record. The audience chanted every line, while Cardi kicked up her leg to reveal the very red bottoms immortalized in the chorus. The hour-long set had flown by, and the crowd wasn’t ready to let her go. Cardi, too, was reluctant to leave. As she walked off stage, she paused for a moment to twerk as the crowd cheered her on, before finally disappearing into the starry Texas night. 

Great to have you back, Cardi.

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