Translated from the Spanish by Josie Mitchell

It’s three thirty-three in the morning, in the studio, the microphone’s hungry, the walls are ready – no one’s going to hear my screams outside this room. On the sofa, while the engineer mikes up the drum kit, I dream of nails dirty with blood, nails long like the sharpened poles of a booby-trap. Someone has glued diamonds onto them, the traps, someone has sprayed gasoline on the marks left by those same nails on the walls of my vigil. They are the fake nails of Cardi B. Nails that have grown in my mind like the view count of ‘Bodak Yellow’ on Youtube, the song that catapulted her into international stardom last year, and with which she dethroned Her Excellency Lauryn Hill, who since 1998 had been the only female rapper to top the Billboard Hot 100 with a solo single.

‘Bodak Yellow’ means business. It’s a crude, catchy hymn written by a woman who’s confessed to writing about what she likes, and that what she likes is ‘fighting bitches’. A comment as real as the work that’s gone into those nails, three hours on the clock for some Asian woman, whose face, elusive as letters written with wind, can be found in every corner of the planet. Ros, Nam ha, Jenny. Jenny Bui is the woman responsible for Cardi B’s nails, and she too appears in my dreams. Now at two locations, I have seen Bui sharpen to stiletto points the nails that Cardi will end up taking our eyes out with, if she hasn’t already. And those eyes, daring to look at her, are ornaments, full of Swarovski tears that hurt to expel. This is not what it is to cry. This is what it is to look at the life of Cardi, before she was Cardi. A ‘Dickens was here’ graffiti bomb in Highbridge, the Bronx…

You can the rest of Rita’s essay on Cardi B at Granta.com.

Rita Indiana’s novel Tentacle (translated by Achy Obejas) is available for purchase online and at several UK retailers. It publishes in the US on 15 January 2019.

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