Belcalis Almanzar (born October 11, 1992), known professionally as Cardi B, is an American hip hop recording artist, and a television and social media personality. Born and raised in the Bronx borough of New York City, she first attracted attention for discussing her career as a stripper on social media; coupled with her "no filter attitude", she became an Internet celebrity through Instagram. From 2015 to 2017, she appeared as a regular cast member on the VH1 reality television series Love & Hip Hop: New York. In February 2017, she signed her first major label record deal with Atlantic Records. Her debut single for Atlantic, titled "Bodak Yellow", reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, with the New York Times calling it "the rap anthem of the summer".
Cardi B was born on October 11, 1992, to a Trinidadian mother and Dominican father. She was raised in the Highbridge neighborhood located in the South Bronx section of New York City. Growing up she spent a lot of time at her grandmother's place in Washington Heights, Manhattan, to which she credits having "such a thick accent".
As a youth, Cardi B was a member of the Bloods street gang, claiming to have been a gangbanger since the age of 16. She went on to attend Renaissance High School For Musical Theater & Technology, a small specialty school on the Herbert H. Lehman campus. During her teenage years, she was employed at an Amish Market supermarket in Lower Manhattan, which was the last job that she held before turning to stripping at the age of 19. Upon being fired from Amish Market, her former manager recommended she work at a strip club. She has said she became a stripper to escape poverty and domestic violence, having been in an abusive relationship at the time. Cardi B has also said becoming a stripper was positive for her life in many ways: "It really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping I went back to school." Cardi B said at the time she was involved in an abusive relationship with whom she lived with in a small Bronx apartment. She says stripping was her only way out, a way to earn enough money to escape her dire situation and get an education. Nonetheless, she ended up dropping out of college.
In 2013, Cardi B began to gain publicity due to several of her videos going viral on social media, namely Vine and her official Instagram page.
In November 2015, Cardi B made her musical debut on Jamaican reggae fusion singer Shaggy's remix to his single "Boom Boom", alongside fellow Jamaican dancehall singer Popcaan. She made her music video debut on December 15, 2015, with the song "Cheap Ass Weave", her rendition of English rapper Lady Leshurr's "Queen's Speech 4". On March 7, 2016, Cardi B released her first full-length project, a mixtape titled Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1. In November 2016, she was featured on the digital cover of Vibe magazine's "Viva" issue. On September 12, 2016, KSR Group released the compilation Underestimated: The Album, which is a collaboration between KSR Group artists Cardi B, Hood Celebrityy, SwiftOnDemand, Cashflow Harlem and Josh X. It was previously released only to attendees of their U.S. tour. KSR Group's flagship artist Cardi B said "I wanted to make a song that would make girls dance, twerk and at the same time encourage them to go get that Shmoney," in regards to the compilation's single "What a Girl Likes."
On January 20, 2017, Cardi B released her second mixtape, which is the second installment to her Gangsta Bitch Music series. In February 2017, Cardi B partnered with MAC Cosmetics and Rio Uribe's Gypsy Sport for an event for New York Fashion Week. In late February, it was reported that Cardi B signed her first major record label recording contract with Atlantic Records. On February 25, 2017, Cardi B was the opening act for East Coast hip hop group The Lox's Filthy America... It's Beautiful Tour, alongside fellow New York City-based rappers Lil' Kim and Remy Ma. In April 2017, she was featured in i-D's "A-Z of Music" video sponsored by Marc Jacobs.
In May 2017, the nominees for the 2017 BET Awards were announced, revealing that Cardi B had been nominated for Best New Artist and Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. Although she failed to win any awards, losing to Chance the Rapper and Remy Ma, respectively, Cardi B performed at the BET Awards afterparty show. In June 2017, during Hot 97's annual Summer Jam music festival, Remy Ma brought out Cardi B, along with The Lady of Rage, MC Lyte, Young M.A., Monie Love, Lil' Kim and Queen Latifah, to celebrate female rappers and perform Latifah's 1993 hit single "U.N.I.T.Y." about female empowerment.
On June 16, 2017, Atlantic Records released Cardi B's commercial debut single, titled "Bodak Yellow" via digital distribution. In June 2017, it was revealed that Cardi B would be on the cover of The Fader's Summer Music issue for July/August 2017. On July 18, 2017, she performed "Bodak Yellow" on The Wendy Williams Show, where she was also interviewed by Williams. When the host asked where her moniker derived from, Cardi B responded with the distilled beverage Bacardi, as people would call her that. Her sister is also nicknamed Hennessy Carolina, referencing the French cognac: "My sister's name, her name is Hennessy, so everybody used to be like Bacardi to me then I shortened it to Cardi B, and the 'B' stands for whatever depending on the day."
In August 2017, "Bodak Yellow" entered the top two of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song also reached number one on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. She performed at MoMA PS1 on August 19 to a crowd of 4,000. On the Hot 100 chart dated September 25, 2017, Cardi B claimed the top spot with "Bodak Yellow", becoming the first solo female rapper to do so since Lauryn Hill in 1998. "Bodak Yellow" was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With her collaborations "No Limit" and "MotorSport", she became first female rapper to land her first three entries in the top 10 of the Hot 100, and the first female artist to achieve the same on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
In October 2017, Cardi B headlined Power 105.1's annual Powerhouse music celebration, alongside The Weeknd, Migos and Lil Uzi Vert, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. In December, she released a collaboration with Puerto Rican singer Ozuna titled "La Modelo", and the second single from her debut album, "Bartier Cardi".
In 2015, Cardi B joined the cast of the VH1 reality television series Love & Hip Hop: New York, debuting in season six. She is considered the breakout star of the show's sixth season. The sixth and seventh seasons chronicle her rise to stardom and her turbulent relationship with her incarcerated fiancé. On December 30, 2016, after two seasons, she announced that she would be leaving the show to further pursue a career in music.
She appeared on the December 9, 2015 episode of Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne. On April 6, 2016, she was on the twelfth episode of Khloé Kardashian's Kocktails with Khloé: In it, she revealed how she told her mother that she was a stripper. In November, it was announced that she would be joining the cast of the BET series, Being Mary Jane. TVLine describes her character, Mercedes, as a "round-the-way beauty with a big weave, big boobs and a big booty to match her oversized, ratchet personality."
Cardi B guest-starred on the celebrity panel show Hip Hop Squares, appearing on the March 13 and April 3, 2017 episodes. On July 18, she appeared on The Wendy Williams Show where she performed "Bodak Yellow", as well as answered questions about her name and the status of her love life.
In Billboard's "You Should Know" series, Cardi B said the first albums she ever purchased were by American entertainers Missy Elliott and Tweet, respectively. She also cited American pop singers Madonna and Lady Gaga as two of her favorite artists. She has credited Puerto Rican rapper Ivy Queen and Jamaican dancehall artist Spice as influences as well.
In an interview with music website Hollywood Unlocked, when asked about the initial direction for her music, Cardi B said, "When I first started rapping I liked certain songs from Khia and Trina, and they fighting songs. I haven't heard fighting songs for a very long time," crediting the two female rappers for her aggressive rap style. She continued saying "a lot of girls they can not afford red bottoms, a lot of girls they can not afford foreign cars but I know that every girl has beef with a girl I know that every bitch don't like some bitch, and it's like 'that's what I wanna rap about.'"
AllMusic editor David Jeffries called Cardi B "a raw and aggressive rapper in the style of Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown." Stereogum called her voice "a full-bodied New Yawk nasal bleat, the sort of thing that you've heard if someone has ever told you that you stupid for taking too long at swiping your MetroCard." They continued to call her voice "an unabashedly loud and sexual fuck-you New York honk—that translates perfectly to rap." In a 2017 Complex article about her, the editor wrote "unapologetic does not begin to describe the totally unfiltered and sheer Cardi B-ness of Cardi B's personality. She's a hood chick who's not afraid to be hood no matter the setting. Cardi B is Cardi B 24/7, 365, this is why she resonates with people, and that same energy comes out in her music."
As Cardi B rose to prominence she was able to transition from a stripper to modeling for fashion websites In February 2017, she partnered with M.A.C and Rio Uribe's Gypsy Sport for an event for New York Fashion Week. During an April 2017 interview with HotNewHipHop, Cardi B spoke on being rejected by fashion designers. Her April appearance in i-D's "A-Z of Music" video was sponsored by designer Marc Jacobs, and she made the cover of The Fader's July/August 2017 Summer Music issue.
In August 2017, the Style section of the New York Times's Sunday edition did a half-page story on her. The writer reported on her preparations for her first public performance in New York City, at MoMA PS1, describing her appearance as she arrived to the interview in "leggings, an Atlanta Braves 'Lost Bravos' logo jersey and white Yeezy sneakers". She also covered Cardi's affinity for Christian Louboutin heels (a running theme in her song "Bodak Yellow"), and the custom local designer, LaQuan Smith, whose red dress she wore to perform.
Cardi B identifies as a feminist. The New York Times wrote "on Love & Hip Hop: New York some viewers saw her as a hero of female empowerment, as she made pronouncements like
'Ever since I started using guys, I feel so much better about myself. I feel so damn powerful.'"
When commenting on her rise to stardom The Fader wrote "one video in particular tipped her popularity over the edge. It was a 13-second clip that doubles as a neat précis of her ethos:
'People be asking me, 'What do you does? Are you a model? Are you, like, a comedian or something?' Nah, I ain't none of that. I'm a hoe. I'm a stripper hoe. I'm about this shmoney.'"
Cardi B is of Christian faith, believing in God and Jesus Christ; she has mentioned her "strong relationship" with God in interviews, often saying that she "talks to Him": "If you know me, you know that I have this deep connection to God. Is it crazy for me to say that I used to ask God to please help me? The strip club really helped me. I can say that it saved me…God put that in my way."
As of early 2017, Cardi B began publicly dating fellow American rapper Offset, of the southern hip hop group Migos, and the two quickly became a prevalent couple in the music industry. When speaking on her relationship with Offset, Cardi B told The Fader, "It’s been a blessing, me meeting him and meeting his friends. I see how hard they work. And that motivated me to work even harder. And I see how good things are going for them and how popping it is to be number one. And I’m like, I want that. A lot of people just see they jewelry and they money, but I don’t think a lot of people see how hard they work for that shit every single day." Cardi B and Offset became engaged on October 27, after Offset proposed to Cardi B at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, during the Power 99 Powerhouse concert. According to a report from TMZ, shortly after Offset and Cardi B became engaged, a handful of TV networks, including BET, VH1 and WE tv, began making offers for a nationally televised wedding special.
Awards and nominations
See also: List of awards and nominations received by Cardi B
Cardi received her first two nominations at the 2017 BET Awards. In September 2017, the nominees for the annual BET Hip Hop Awards were unveiled, revealing Cardi B to be in the lead, alongside DJ Khaled and Kendrick Lamar, with nine nominations, winning five. She received two nominations at the 60th Grammy Awards: Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.
In September 2017, Cardi B's single "Bodak Yellow" peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, making Cardi B the first female rapper to top the chart with a solo output since fellow American rapper Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)", debuted atop the chart in 1998. Overall, it made Cardi B the fifth female rapper to ever lead the Hot 100. Cardi B is also noted for being the first person of Dominican Republic descent to reach number one in the history of the Hot 100, since it was launched in 1958. In October, Cardi B broke another Billboard Hot 100 record, when "Bodak Yellow" stayed atop the charts for three consecutive weeks, tying with American pop singer Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" as the longest running female at the number one spot on the charts in 2017.
In December 2017, Cardi B became the first female rapper to send her first three Billboard Hot 100 entries to the top 10. ClearartWide ThumbFanart Banner User Comments