The flirty song addresses bisexuality and sexual fluidity, with lyrics like “I’m 50/50, and I’m never gonna hide it” and “Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls.”
Shortly after the track’s release, some LGBTQ artists — including Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani — spoke out online against the song, calling its lyrics problematic and exploitative.
During her verse, Cardi, 25, raps: “Now I could be your lipstick, just for one night … I steal your bitch, have her down with the scissor / Tonight, I don’t want a dog, I want a kitten / I might French a girl from Great Britain.”
On Tuesday, Cardi took to Twitter to apologize to anyone offended by the song or words she’s used in the past, and to open up about having “experiences” with women.
“Listen to “GIRLS” by Rita Ora ft me @BebeRexha @charli_xcx. We never try to cause harm or had bad intentions with the song. I personally myself had experiences with other [women], shiieeett with a lot of [women]! I [thought] the song was a good song and i remember my experience,” Cardi tweeted.
“I know i have use words before that i wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct ‘terms’ to use. I learned and i stopped using it,” Cardi added, alluding to the lesbian slur d—. “My own friends be like ‘I’m a d— so i never thought it was [an] offensive word. I was like wtf.”
Cardi isn’t the only one to address the controversy.
On Monday, Ora, 27, released a statement on Twitter in which she came out, as well as apologized to anyone “hurt” by the song.
“Girls was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life,” Ora wrote. “I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey. … I am sorry how I expressed myself in my song has hurt anyone. I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone.”
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Ora opened up to PEOPLE exclusively about “Girls” last Thursday, just hours before its release.
“It really represents freedom and the chance to be what you want to be — and there being no judgment and just living your life as you want to live it. That’s what this song represents to me every time I hear it,” she told PEOPLE.
Ora added: “I’m not hiding what I am, who I am, if I wanna do this, if I wanna do that. That’s just how it’s gonna be. … I’m definitely an open book with this record..”