Cardi B's mastery of color in her music videos isn't just eye candy—it's a storytelling tool - NEWS

Cardi B’s mastery of color in her music videos isn’t just eye candy—it’s a storytelling tool

Cardi B is known for her bold, over-the-top music videos that feature flashy costumes, dramatic sets, and explicit lyrics. While she is often criticized for her outrageous style, there is more going on visually in Cardi’s videos than meets the eye. Through deliberate and strategic use of color, Cardi B conveys deeper symbolic meanings that align with the themes and emotions expressed in her songs.

The Importance of Color Theory

Before analyzing Cardi B’s use of color, it is important to understand some basic principles of color theory. The colors we perceive are influenced by hue, saturation, and brightness. Hue refers to the dominant wavelength of color from the visual spectrum, like red, blue, or yellow. Saturation describes the intensity of color from muted to vivid. Brightness indicates how light or dark a color is.

In visual arts, color can be used structurally to compose images and symbolically to communicate ideas and set a mood. Color contrasts can create visual impact through competing hues. Color harmonies using analogous hues create cohesive palettes. The context, culture, and psychology of the viewer also inform the symbolic interpretations of different colors. By manipulating various elements of color, artists subtly influence how audiences perceive their work.

Cardi B demonstrates a strong grasp of color theory in her music videos to reinforce meanings in harmony with her songs. She especially relies on cultural color symbolism and color contrasts to make bold visual statements.

Red: Passion, Love, Anger

The color red holds universal symbolic meaning representing concepts like passion, romance, danger, and anger across cultures. This is based on the natural associations of red with fire, blood, the heart, and sexuality.

True to her candid lyrics about intimacy, Cardi uses red heavily to convey themes of romance, passion, and sexuality. In the video for “Be Careful,” amidst scenes of domestic bliss, Cardi sports a deep red mini-dress while singing about fidelity in relationships. As she dances romantically with her real-life husband Offset, the red color connects with the song’s themes of passionate, but potentially impermanent, love.

The video for her hit “Bodak Yellow” features an underground club with red lighting as Cardi asserts her sexual confidence. She wears a red bedazzled leotard while singing “red bottoms, these is bloody shoes.” Here, red symbolizes the fiery passion of her lust and success. Other shots picture her aggressors in red lighting as she warns them not to interfere with her grind. The redness matches her angry lyrics directed at her opponents. Ultimately, the song is about channeling negative emotions into determined ambition with red representing this intensity.

By aligning scenes of red lighting and costumes with lyrics about romance, sexuality, and anger in her music videos, Cardi B strategically harness the cultural symbolism of red to emphasize passion and intensity central to her songs.

Blue: Peace, Sadness

At the other end of the visual spectrum, Cardi also leverages the color blue to evoke contrasting feelings of tranquility and melancholy. Common associations with blue involve calmness, stability, wisdom, and depression based on connections with the sky, water, and low-wavelength light.

In the tropical video for “I Like It,” Cardi sports various blue ensembles matching the aquatic scenery around her while singing about desires for romance. This aligns blue with the song’s whimsical mood. Against an icy blue backdrop in “Be Careful,” Cardi contemplates heartbreak in a blue dress, using the color to signal sadness and fragility in contrast to the red-infused scenes of intimacy.

Even in the sensual bedroom setting of “Bartier Cardi,” Cardi pauses to sing beside an open blue sky at night. Just as blue symbolizes freedom yet isolation, she sings about the autonomy yet insecurity that comes with her newfound success in the music industry. Through considered color placement, Cardi channels the emotional duality blue represents.

Cardi tactfully employs blue for visual irony to undermine surface meanings. By steeping steamy songs in sad blue tones, she hints at the complexity below the confidence she projects.

Gold: Wealth, Opulence

It comes as no surprise that Cardi incorporates gold into her videos to signal material success. Universal associations with gold involve extravagance, wealth, status, and divinity across cultures.

The video for “Bartier Cardi” basically amounts to an opulent fashion show, with nearly every scene featuring shining gold embellishments, jewelry, sets, or lighting. Beyond simply flaunting, this golden overload connects with lyrics celebrating Cardi’s come-up after her rise to fame. Early shots show Cardi reclined on a gold couch wearing a gold bikini, directly linking the color with the fruits of her musical success. The decadent gold visuals continue through shots of Cardi dancing in a gold bodysuit, pouring champagne in a gold bathtub, and strutting in gold shoes.

Similarly, the video for Grammy-winner “Money” overtly uses gold to communicate Cardi’s message of financial empowerment. She layers herself in gold necklaces, rings, bracelets, sunglasses, and stilettos while literally dancing on piles of gold bars. Contrasted against dark warehouse shots, the shimmering gold boldly signifies wealth. Surrounded by female dancers in black leather, Cardi again wears all gold everything, using the color to visibly define her status and security.

Through lavish displays of gold fashion and accessories, Cardi visually manifests the upward mobility and financial independence highlighted in her rags-to-riches anthems.

Pink: Femininity, Playfulness

Cardi B also embraces the color pink in her videos to connect with concepts of femininity, playfulness, and innocence traditionally associated with pink. By feminizing hip hop visuals, Cardi B puts her own stamp on the male-dominated genre.

The video for “Money” features an almost bubblegum pink color palette contrasted against dark industrial shots. Cardi wears a frilly pink bikini and glitzy pink stilettos while prancing through pink-lit scenes. The playful pinkness matches the lighthearted spirit of the song celebrating financial success. She also wears baby pink hoop earrings shaped like teddy bears, using the color to soften her image despite harsh lyrics.

Similarly, the video for number one hit “I Like It” showcases a carnival atmosphere with bright pink lighting and balloons. Cardi smiles widely sporting pink nails and eye shadow as she rides through the streets. By steeping her party anthem in feminine pinkness, Cardi B keeps the tone fun and flirty.

Through soft pink aesthetics, Cardi injects her bold brand of feminism with lightness and positivity. The color allows her to flex traditionally masculine themes of wealth, confidence, and sexual liberation from a playfully girlish angle.

Green: Envy, Ambition

Cardi also embraces color associations with the green eyed monster. In Western cultures, green can signal envy, jealousy, inexperience, and ambition. Cardi turns this negative color symbolism on its head to assert her determination.

In an early shot of “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi rocks emerald green nails while handling stacks of cash. Since the song addresses haters and rivals, this visual suggests her envy-inducing success. In the sexy video for “Bartier Cardi,” Cardi sports a green fur coat and sunglasses while singing about designer fashion and romance. By linking green with luxury, Cardi subverts the color’s negative connotations. Given the song’s themes of confidence after fame, the green symbolizes Cardi overcoming doubters.

The video for “Money” also features green lighting when Cardi dances provocatively inside a green helicopter. This odd scene relates to lyrics about being sexually empowered. The green associates this confidence with defiance of traditional expectations placed on female artists.

Through clever reversals, Cardi B repurposes symbolic meanings of green to celebrate her determination and ambition in the face of adversity.

Contrasting Color Palettes

Beyond specific color meanings, Cardi creates intriguing contrasts between complementary or competing hues throughout her videos. Contrasting colors communicate tension or reconciliation between ideas.

An early shot of “Bodak Yellow” shows Cardi pictured before a background split between red and blue. This divide seems to represent the two sides of Cardi’s persona: the confident, aggressive rapper in red versus the thoughtful, sensitive woman in blue. The images blur and bleed together though, signaling Cardi’s ability to reconcile these identities.

The video also layers red and blue symbolism through shots of Cardi dancing sensually in a red leotard interspersed with images of her assailants bathed in blue light. This contrast underscores the song’s themes of overcoming adversity through passion and determination.

In other videos like “Bartier Cardi” and “Money,” Cardi wears shiny gold bodysuits and jewelry against stark black or white backgrounds. This heightens the opulence and extravagance represented by the metallic gold against muted settings. The simple backgrounds also allow the glamorous costumes to take center

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