Nashville strip club Déjà Vu announced Thursday it will no longer feature music by rapper Cardi B.
The club released a statement, which said “in light of a recent video that surfaced this past week of rapper Cardi B admitting that she often ‘drugged and robbed men’ as an adult entertainer, Deja Vu Nashville has removed all of the artist’s music from their music library.”
“This is simply not acceptable in our club. We work very hard to overcome negative stereotypes associated with our industry and continuing to play Cardi B’s music in our club sends the wrong message to our entertainers and our guests,“ said Déjà vu’s General Manager and Vice President Michael Durham.
A recently discovered admission by Cardi B revealed an alleged history of drugging and robbing men during her stripper past.
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.
The 26-year-old Cardi B, born Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar in the Bronx, has been an open book since she rocketed to fame on the Vh1 series “Love and Hip Hop” in 2015. When her single, “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),” made her a bona fide rap star, her rough yet playful image remained intact.
The clip that drew the firestorm was apparently posted to Instagram in 2016, before the singer became a platinum-selling rapper. In it, an emotional Cardi B says that to make it in the music industry — and in life — she had to do some things she’s not proud of.
“I had to go strip, I had to go, ‘Oh yeah, you want to (sleep with) me? Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s go back to this hotel,’ and I drugged (men) up, and I robbed them. That’s what I used to do,” Cardi B said in the post.
Outrage ensued, with some comparing Cardi B to Bill Cosby, who was convicted last year for drugging and molesting a woman in 2004. Others posted #SurvivingCardiB on social media, playing off the ultra-popular Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which helped lead to new sexual abuse charges against the R&B singer a decade after he was acquitted of child pornography charges. The singer has denied the new allegations.
But Damien Scott, editor-in-chief and vice president of content and development of the hip-hop magazine Complex, said Cardi’s admission didn’t rise to the level of those cases.
“The difference here is this is Cardi remembering crimes she committed in her very formidable years, and while they are crimes … to me they’re not on the degree of criminality as raping somebody. She claims she would drug men and rob them — is that bad? Extremely bad. However, on the scale of what’s acceptable in rap and what has been acceptable in rap, to me that’s on the tame side,” he told The Associated Press in an interview on Thursday. (In the Twitter post defending herself, Cardi B maintains the men were actually “conscious (sic) willing and aware.”)
Rough and explicit lyrics have been part of rap since its early days, and it is common for rappers to vulgarly discuss sex, drugs, gun violence and more in songs.
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 that’s why I think that she’s not getting the same heat. If she was openly rapping about drugging men and stealing, I think you’d see potentially even greater heat on her than men,” Schiffer said.
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.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.