When a clip of Cardi B clapping back at "little fucking white boys" popped up in an unsolicited diss video on YouTube, publications like The Daily Beast and Page Six assumed she was talking about ZN8tion, the aspiring rap group of tween quadruplets who made the video. "Man shut the fuck up and stay in y'all motherfucking place," she said on Instagram Live. "Go drink y'all motherfucking milk bitch." But now, Cardi is making it clear that the boys of ZN8tion weren't her target.
"First of all I was talking about a fan base that was coming for me when it come to album and Grammies and people chopped my video to make it seem like I was talkin about them kids," she tweeted.
The 10-year-old social media stars were pretty bold in their pursuit of beef with Cardi, and it even granted them an interview with Page Six. "We wanted to show Cardi B to not be a bully and to give her a taste of her own medicine," Hollywood, one fourth of the quartet says. The paper claims Cardi's Live happened "last Monday," but ZN8tion uploaded their video, including the clip of Cardi, to their YouTube page on Sept. 1. The full version of her Live was uploaded on YouTube in late August, a day after the Invasion of Privacy rapper went on a pretty thorough Twitter rant.
The footage surfaced shortly after Travis Scott's Netflix documentary Look Mom, I Can Fly aired, showing Scott visibly pissed off after ASTROWORLD lost Best Rap Album to Invasion of Privacy at last year's Grammys. In true Cardi fashion, she took to social media to defend her debut album, pointing out how hard she worked on it while expecting her first child. "I did it all while I was pregnant," she tweeted. "Throwing up, drowsy, terrible colds and in a rush to finish it so I can start doing music videos before I started showing."
As entertaining as it is would be to think that Cardi's fiery retort was aimed at literal kids who are 16 years her junior, that's not the case. But who is ZN8tion? And why do they seem to be picking a fight with Cardi?
Hailing from Westchester County, New York, ZN8tion aren't your average 10-year-olds. Strangely enough, the boys known as Mr. Great, Bonez, Slim, and Hollywood have access to private jets and Rolls Royces, prominently featured in their music videos. ZN8tion is what would happen if Gary Vaynerchuk was four rapping children. They deliver motivational captions imploring their audience of 143,000 Instagram followers to stop being lazy and "get up outta bed and get that worm." When they aren't rapping like 43-year-old life coaches, they're singing about things kids their age should be, like farting and summer vacation, but mostly Westchester's finest foursome wants to stop bullying.
The brothers' official stance is "Bullies are punks" and "Be kind! It's free!," a commendable mission until you consider the fact that diss records go against that entire rhetoric. One look at their YouTube page, which boasts over 14,000 subscribers, and you'll find that they've made a practice at trolling the trolls with "roasts" aimed at Machine Gun Kelly, Tekashi 6ix9ine and Lil Tay skeptics. These videos seem like thinly veiled efforts by the boys (read: their parents) to get some press and grow their following. While their charge at Cardi isn't an isolated incident, it's certainly their boldest effort yet.
The production in the video, titled "CARDI B, DISSED BY ZN8TION And GOES CRAZY" is straight out of the late aughts (as are the sunglasses featured in the clip), but ZN8tion's burns come straight from the sandbox. Insults like "They could fix your teeth / But they couldn't fix your face" and "I don't know what's faker, your life or your butt" are enough to remind you that the boys of ZN8tion are still just little kids at the end of the day. But Slim, Hollywood, Mr. Great, and Bonez make sure to stay aligned with their anti-bullying message. "I wonder how long you'll last / Cardi you're trash / We don't like you like bullies in class," one raps. We'd use a reference from The Dark Knight here about dying a hero or living long enough to be the villain, but the Batman film was released before they were born, so they probably wouldn't get the reference.
While it's fun to think Cardi was going toe to toe with some fourth graders, that was not the case. Best of luck to ZN8tion on their rap career though.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer at VICE. Follow her on Twitter.