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Meaning of ‘Ring’ by ‘Cardi B’ feat. Kehlani

Released: 2018 • Features: Kehlani

In “Ring” by Cardi B and Kehlani, the theme strikes as a mix of frustrations about unreciprocated affection and a subtle display of self-worth. As the title and constant refrain suggest, it tells the story of a distant lover who’s slacked off in communication, with Cardi’s lines echoing a simmering exasperation and firm resolve to not settle for less.

The opening sets the scene with Cardi B addressing her distant lover. “You don’t hit my line no more…You don’t make it ring, ring, ring, ring” conveys that her significant other doesn’t call her anymore. The phrase “I can’t keep this on the low” implies she’s done with the silent treatment and wants him to make a move.

In the lines “Should I call first? I can’t decide…I’m feelin’ you but you hard to get in touch with”, Cardi pulls back the curtains to her inner turmoil. She’s genuinely interested in this guy, but his lack of communication is testing her patience. Moreover, when she says “a n- only gon’ do what you allow”, she’s asserting that she decides the terms of their relationship.

The next verse ups the heat as Cardi turns more assertive. “Learn to text with your nose if your thumb broke” showcases her annoyance, suggesting that she expects her lover to reach out to her no matter what. The line “But I still wake up to missed calls from your a-” is interesting. It introduces the idea that despite all his nonchalance, the guy is still somewhat interested in her.

Cardi continues to make her voice heard in lines like “Nah, n- now you gon’ have to call me…Let another n- in your spot, and you gon’ be hot n- coffee”. The implication is clear, if he doesn’t step up his game, there are others lining up for her. And if he loses his spot, he’ll regret it—a sentiment amplified by the strong metaphor “hot n- coffee”.

In Kehlani’s verse, she’s nostalgic about the times when the guy used to always be there, on her line, loving her. But now he’s “all caught up”, which means being preoccupied with other things and leaving her alone. She exposes her vulnerability with “Said I just miss you, I just miss us, baby,” showcasing sincere longing for their previous connection.

In a broader sense, “Ring” is a prominent anthem of assertive self-worth and a demand for respect and attention in a relationship. It’s not just about the lack of phone calls—it’s about the lack of care, respect, and commitment from the other person, and a firm unwillingness to settle for anything less.

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