No one ever accused Cardi B of being anything but blunt and to the point.
So yeah, her much-hyped set at Wild 94.1's Wild Splash festival on Saturday in Clearwater was short. Ten-minutes-and-change short. But like everything Cardi B seems to touch these days, those 10 minutes packed a wallop.
Cardi wasn't technically Wild Splash's main headliner; that honor fell to Atlanta trap kingpin Gucci Mane. And no disrespect to the Trap God, but as "the biggest artist of 2017," in the words of Wild 94.1's Orlando Davis, Cardi B was the station's bombshell booking, the one everyone, everywhere, was buzzing about.
"It's a little cold out here," she squawked through a smile, strutting the stage a pink pantsuit a stiff gulf breeze away from a wardrobe malfunction. "I thought this was Florida!"
The 25-year-old Bronx rapper, reality star and ex-dancer’s ascent since dropping Bodak Yellow last summer has been so rapid that she doesn’t really have a full set to support a proper tour of America. But it’s hard to argue with the arsenal she does have. The five singles she performed – Bruno Mars’ Finesse, Bodak Yellow, MotorSport, Bartier Cardi and G-Eazy’s No Limit – all reached the Top 10, fueled by her blunt braggadocio and total absence of a filter. Performing them all in a row for upwards of 20,000 phone-waving fan took its toll.
"That took all my breath away," she said after Bodak Yellow. "I want to sit down, but I gotta keep entertaining you mother—ers."
The suit suggested Cardi had more money moves to make after jetting out of Clearwater. But in the moment, her wily grin and flickering personality was pure a total pleasure trip.
Also having fun at Wild Splash: A genial Gucci Mane.
While Gucci is no stranger to Tampa Bay – he filmed Spring Breakers here in 2012 – he’s been MIA since a more than two-year prison sentence from 2014 to 2016. But the Ice Cream Man seemed happy to be back, smiling and engaging fans as his DJ’s throat-rippling bass rumbled across Coachman Park.
It was the definition of a career-spanning set, featuring songs ranging from Gucci's early mixtapes and studio albums to new single Solitaire, a song he just dropped Friday. From his syrupy-slow stride across the stage, he dropped trunk-thumping crowd-pleasers (Wasted), odes to the ladies (I Don't Love Her, Freaky Girl), and his collaborations with the likes of Drake (Both), Migos (Slippery), Rae Sremmurd (Black Beatles) and Lil Baby, who joined him on stage for The Load. He even took a couple of requests from fans, settling on Trap House and Traphouse 3, classic coke-rap fantasies released eight years apart.
Below Cardi and Gucci, star power was a little lacking on the Wild Splash bill thanks to SoFla SoundCloud phenom Lil Pump getting scratched due to legal issues. Lil Skies, a late fill-in, did a fair enough job replicating his shirtless, wild-child style, leaping down from the stage to commingle with fans on the front fence.
After him, Atlanta’s Lil Baby boomed and barked out odes to loyalty and his hometown.
And rolling in with a motormouth flow and deep, animated crew, Tampa O.G. Tom G stirred up hometown love with a performance that dripped with both gratitude and game, growling out My Dawg Just Jump'd and Meek Mill's fiery Dreams and Nightmares, and pulling a dozen or so ladies from the crowd up on stage for a good ol' fashioned booty-jigglin'. He also shouted out Rick Ross, asking everyone to "put your praying hands up" for the ailing Miami rapper; as well as the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, saying, "We need more f—ing love in this community"
Of all the undercards, Tom G did the best job of matching Cardi B’s spark and Gucci Mane’s command, a bright moment in the book of Tampa rap. You wonder what he could do with a Bodak Yellow of his own.
Until then, the pop and hip-hop world still belongs to her. Ten minutes of stage time isn't much, but it's enough to leave an impact. When Cardi B hits your town, even for a moment, you can't miss it.
— Jay Cridlin