It seemed inevitable and now it’s happened — the Cardi B, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny collab “I Like It” has officially capped the Billboard Hot 100 after spending 12 weeks on the charts. As we reported a few weeks ago, the song had already shot up to no. 3, and its popularity has kept it soaring to the very top.
“I Like It” made an impression ever since it was released on Cardi B’s debut Invasion of Privacy. With its sample of Pete Rodriguez’s boogaloo classic “I Like It Like That” and rapid-fire verses from three of the biggest Latino rappers in music right now, the track collected the album’s most streams in just a matter of days. It marks Cardi B’s second no. 1 hit after the record-shattering success of “Bodak Yellow,” which made history as the longest-running no. 1 by a female solo rapper ever. The song also represents massive gains for Balvin and Bad Bunny — the track is Balvin’s second Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper after “Mi Gente,” which peaked at no. 3, and it’s Bad Bunny’s first entry into the top 10. Bad Bunny and Balvin earn their first no.1 with “I Like It,” and Cardi just became the first woman in rap to earn multiple no. 1 singles.
More significantly, “I Like It” adds another moment of renewed visibility for Latino artists and bilingual music following the phenomenon of last summer’s “Despacito” and “Mi Gente.” Both of these songs were appraised with some reservations, as critics wondered if they would be one-time novelty tracks. However, “I Like It” helps buttress the position of Spanish-language music in the Anglo and international pop spheres — and signals that last year’s moments en español could have more staying power.
Of course, “I Like It” has inevitably introduced another wave of necessary questions around the use of stereotypes and overwrought cultural signifiers (the lyrics referencing “hot tamales” and the use of a novelty boogaloo sample have raised concerns in particular). But it does offer another opportunity for Latinos to burst into the spotlight and seep into the national conversation — something that had been virtually nonexistent for years. Ultimately, we’ll be waiting to see how Latinx artists can create new forms of success and artistry beyond a no. 1 single (and bumping “I Like It” all summer, of course).