The booty runneth over in the singers' homage to '90s and early-2000s greats like TLC, Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim, and Aaliyah.

By Andrea Towers and Jason Lamphier
July 16, 2021 at 01:47 PM EDT
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Normani knew you were coming, so she baked a cake. Two long years after releasing her undeniable 2019 single, "Motivation," her latest offering has finally arrived in the form of "Wild Side," a sultry, simmering, bootylicious single complete with a bonkers video featuring Cardi B.

Directed by Tanu Muino, the mastermind behind Cardi's "Up" and Lil Nas X's "Montero (Call My by Your Name)" videos, with choreography by Sean Bankhead (who also crafted the moves for Normani's "Motivation" video), "Wild Side" is seductive, chaotic, and dizzying — a three-minute sex jam that's left us downright gobsmacked. The singer bends, gyrates, twirls, writhes in leopard print in a teeny-tiny private chopper, and strikes an alarming number of curious poses. This thing has more angles than your high school trig test.

Both the song and the video are a direct callback to the R&B and pop music of the late '90s and early 2000s, with lyrics and visuals that pay homage to the iconic artists who've influenced the former (and, let's just be honest, best) Fifth Harmony member: We're getting TLC, Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim, Aaliyah, and some major Kylie Minogue "Can't Get You Out of My Head" feels (minus the hot robo-dudes). The track's vintage vibe seems especially appropriate given that the song was clearly inspired by Aaliyah's 1996 hit "One in a Million."

When Normani recently unveiled the cover art for the video, which shows both her and Cardi lying nude on a pearly shell covered only by their long, coiled locks of hair, it was a clear indication of what was to come.

Wild Side
Cardi B and Normani on the cover of 'Wild Side'
| Credit: Jora Frantzis

"Baking up a cake for you/Sweet, baby, like it when you bite it," Normani coos before launching into the top-down, ass-up chorus: "I wanna get wild/Take me for a ride, boy/Show me your wild side, boy/Know it's been a while, boy/I wanna get wild."

"Wild Side" then takes a sharp left turn from its nasty, come-hither aesthetic into a straight-up hip-hop dance fantasia, leaving you wondering what the hell you've just watched. In one barely-safe-for-work scene, a naked Normani cozies up to an also-naked (and pregnant) Cardi B as they caress each other around some chains. Then comes a jump-cut to the singer surrounded by a pack of backup dancers, all of them draped in sleek, gauzy, mummy-chic attire (see, they don't want no scrubs).

Wild Side
Normani
| Credit: Greg Swales

"I had already been in rehearsal for about three weeks preparing for the video when Cardi heard the record for the first time," Normani said in a press release for the single. "She really showed up for me and brought this record to life by simply doing what Cardi does best." Which is flaunt her tattooed trunk and spit out lines like "Baby, let me blow it like a trumpet/I can do it all/I can prolly suck a watermelon through a straw."

Normani's debut solo album is still in the works, but between her five impressive singles — "Wild Side," "Motivation," the Sam Smith duet "Dancing With a Stranger" (which hit the top 10 in the U.S. and U.K.), her Khalid collaboration "Love Lies," and the 6lack-featuring "Waves" (which snagged the singer her first solo win at the MTV VMAs for Best R&B Video) — the breakout star has officially cemented her status as a pop sensation to be reckoned with.

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