Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar (born October 11, 1992), known professionally as Cardi B, is an American rapper, songwriter, actress, and television personality. Born and raised in The Bronx, New York City, she became an Internet celebrity after several of her posts and videos went viral on Vine and Instagram. From 2015 to 2017, she appeared as a regular cast member on the VH1 reality television series Love & Hip Hop: New York to follow her music aspirations, and released two mixtapes—Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.
Cardi B in 2018
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar
October 11, 1992
New York City, U.S.
Kiari Cephus (m. 2017)
|Relatives||Hennessy Carolina (sister)|
Cardi B has since earned three number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100; "Bodak Yellow" made her the second female rapper to top the chart with a solo output—following Lauryn Hill in 1998, "I Like It" made her the only female rapper to attain multiple number-one songs on the chart, and her Maroon 5 collaboration "Girls Like You" made her the sixth female artist to achieve three number-one singles on the chart during the 2010s. Her debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy (2018), on which the former two songs are included, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, broke several streaming records, and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA. Critically acclaimed, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, making Cardi B the only woman to win the award as a solo artist. Also in 2018, Time included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Among her numerous accolades, Cardi B has won a Grammy Award, seven Billboard Music Awards—the most of any female rapper, nine BET Hip Hop Awards—the most of any female rapper, three American Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, and two Guinness World Records.
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar was born on October 11, 1992, in The Bronx borough of New York City to a Dominican father and Trinidadian/Spaniard mother. She was raised in the High bridge neighborhood of the South Bronx, and spent much time at her paternal grandmother's home in Washington Heights, which she credits with giving her "such a thick […] accent." Almánzar developed the stage name "Cardi B" as a derivation of Bacardi, a rum brand that was formerly her nickname. As a youth, Cardi B was a member of the Bloods and has said she was a gang member since the age of 16. However, she has stated ever since that she would not encourage joining a gang. She went on to attend Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology, a vocational high school on the Herbert H. Lehman High School campus.
During her teenage years, Cardi B was employed at an Amish Market in Tribeca. She then began stripping at the age of 19. Upon being fired from the supermarket, her former manager recommended she work at a strip club. Cardi B has said that 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." She says stripping was her only way out in which she earned enough money to escape her dire situation and get an education. She has explained that she become a stripper in order to escape poverty and domestic violence, having been in an abusive relationship at the time. She attended Borough of Manhattan Community College before eventually dropping out. While stripping, Cardi B lied to her mother by telling her she was making money babysitting.
2015–2017: Career beginnings and breakthrough
In 2015, Cardi B joined the cast of the VH1 reality television series Love & Hip Hop: New York, debuting in season six. Jezebel considered her 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.
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, HoodCelebrityy, 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 regard to the compilation's single "What a Girl Likes".
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 2016, 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 oversize, ratchet personality."
In 2016, Cardi B was featured in her first endorsement deal with Romantic Depot, a large New York chain of Lingerie stores that sell sexual health and wellness products. The ad campaign was featured on radio and cable TV and Billboard took note. This cable TV Commercial was recognized as the most famous cable tv commercial in the history of NYC. This was also noted by the NY Post in a feature article about “Cardi B's meteoric rise from stripper to superstar” in April 2018.
On January 20, 2017, Cardi B released her second mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2. 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. Cardi also guest-starred on the celebrity panel show Hip Hop Squares, appearing on the March 13 and April 3, 2017 episodes.
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, tying with DJ Khaled and Kendrick Lamar for the most nominations with nine. 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. On June 11, 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. 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. She performed at MoMA PS1 on August 19 to a crowd of 4,000.
On June 16, 2017, Atlantic Records released Cardi B's commercial debut single, "Bodak Yellow", via digital distribution. She performed the single on The Wendy Williams Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! The song climbed the charts for several months, and, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated September 25, 2017, "Bodak Yellow" reached the number one spot, making Cardi B the first female rapper to do so with a solo single since Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" debuted atop the chart in 1998. The song 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 in 2017. Cardi B became the first person of Dominican descent to reach number one in the history of the Hot 100 since it was launched in 1958. An editor of The New York Times called it "the rap anthem of the summer". "Bodak Yellow" was eventually certified septuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song received nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 60th Grammy Awards. It won Single of the Year at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards.
With her collaborations "No Limit" and "MotorSport", she became the 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 two songs: a collaboration with Puerto Rican singer Ozuna titled "La Modelo", and "Bartier Cardi", the second single from her debut album.
2018–present: Invasion of Privacy
On January 3, 2018, Cardi B was featured on Bruno Mars' remix version of "Finesse", and also appeared in the 90's inspired video. On January 18, 2018, Cardi B became the first woman to have five top 10 singles simultaneously on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. She released another single, "Be Careful", on March 30, 2018, a week before her album's release.
Her debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy, was released on April 6, 2018, to universal acclaim from music critics. Editors from Variety and The New York Times called it "one of the most powerful debuts of this millennium" and "a hip-hop album that doesn't sound like any of its temporal peers," respectively. The album entered at number one in the United States, while she became the first female artist to chart 13 entries simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100, on the chart issue dated April 21. It also became the most streamed album by a female artist in a single week in Apple Music, and the largest on-demand audio streaming week ever for an album by a woman (a record broken in 2019 by Ariana Grande's album Thank U, Next). The album's title reflects Cardi B's feeling that as she gained popularity her privacy was being invaded in a variety of ways. Following the album's release, during a performance on Saturday Night Live, Cardi B officially announced her pregnancy, after much media speculation. She also co-hosted an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Several months later, in July 2018, the album's fourth single, "I Like It", which features vocals from Bad Bunny and J Balvin, reached number one on the Hot 100; this marked her second number one on the chart and made her the first female rapper to achieve multiple chart-toppers. Her collaboration with Maroon 5, "Girls Like You," also reached number one the Hot 100 chart, extending her record among female rappers and also making her the sixth female artist to achieve three number-one singles on the chart during the 2010s The song's music video has received more than 2.2 billion views on YouTube, making it the most viewed video of 2018, and was the fifth-best selling song of the year globally. With "Girls Like You" following "I Like It" at the top of the Billboard Radio Songs chart, Cardi B became the first female rapper to ever replace herself at number one on that chart. The single spent seven weeks atop the Hot 100, making Cardi the female rapper with most cumulative weeks atop the chart, with eleven weeks. It spent 33 weeks in the top 10, tying Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" for the longest top 10 run in the chart's archives. In October 2018, Invasion of Privacy was certified double platinum by the RIAA. With the thirteen tracks, she became the first female artist to have all songs from an album certified gold or higher in the US.
Cardi B received the most nominations for the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards with 12 mentions, winning three awards. She also tied with Drake for the most nominations at the 2018 American Music Awards. She won three AMAs and performed at the ceremony. Her single "Money" and her collaboration with DJ Snake "Taki Taki" entered the top 20 on the Hot 100. "Taki Taki" topped the charts in a number of Hispanic countries and has garnered more than 1 billion views. People en Español named her Star of the Year. Entertainment Weekly deemed her "a pop culture phenomenon", as she was named one of "2018 Entertainers of the Year." On November 30, 2018, Cardi B was honored at Ebony's annual Power 100 Gala. Cardi ranked fifth on the 2018 Billboard Year-End Top Artists chart, while Invasion of Privacy ranked sixth. She also topped streaming services' rankings, including Apple Music (the most-streamed album of the year by a female artist globally) and Spotify (the most streamed female artist of the year in the United States). Editorial staff from Apple Music and Billboard named "I Like It" the best song of 2018, while Time magazine and Rolling Stone named Invasion of Privacy the best album of the year. Articles by several publications, including The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, have called her "hip-hop's current reigning queen." Cardi received five nominations at the 61st Grammy Awards, including for Album of the Year, Best Rap Album and Record of the Year ("I Like It"). She became the third female rapper to be nominated for Album of the Year, following Lauryn Hill (1999) and Missy Elliott (2004). Also in 2018, Time included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Cardi B, along with Chance the Rapper and T.I., will be a judge for Netflix's Rhythm + Flow, a 10-part hip-hop talent search that is set to debut in 2019. On February 10, 2019, Cardi B performed at the 61st Grammy Awards, wore three vintage Thierry Mugler couture looks during the telecast, and became the first female rapper to win Best Rap Album as a solo artist.
On February 15, 2019, Cardi B released a single alongside Bruno Mars called "Please Me". The official music video was released two weeks later on March 1. On March 1, Cardi set a new attendance record at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, with 75,580 fans in the audience. With "Backin' It Up", "Twerk" and "Money", Cardi became the first female artist to occupy the top three on the Billboard Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart.
In March 2019, it was announced Cardi B would make her film debut in Hustlers directed by Lorene Scafaria, opposite Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. It is scheduled to be released on September 13, 2019. She led the 2019 Billboard Music Awards nominations, with 21, the most nominations in a single year ever by a woman and the third most nominations in a year ever (behind Drake and The Chainsmokers, who both had 22 in a year). She ended up winning six awards, bringing her career total wins to seven—the most of any female rapper in history.
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 has credited Puerto Rican rapper Ivy Queen and Jamaican dance hall artist Spice as influences as well. Cardi B is inspired by Madonna, to whom she has referred as her "idol".
When asked about the initial direction for her music, Cardi B said in an interview, "When I first started rapping [...] I liked certain songs from Khia and Trina, and they [were] 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 cannot afford red bottoms, a lot of girls they cannot 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.'"
Her first studio album, Invasion of Privacy, is primarily a hip hop record, which comprises elements of trap, Latin music, and R&B. Consequence of Sound described her flow as "acrobatic and nimble." 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."
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.
Tom Ford's Cardi B-inspired lipstick, and named after her, was released in September 2018. It sold out within 24 hours. In November, she partnered with Reebok, promoting the brand's Aztrek sneaker. The same month she released a clothing line collection with Fashion Nova.
In early 2019, Cardi also joined other hip hop artists (including her husband Offset, as part of Migos) in releasing her own flavors of popular snack food Rap Snacks. Her flavors include Cheddar BBQ and Jerk BBQ chips, as well as Honey Drip Butter and Habanero Hot Cheese popcorn. The bags were designed by Jai Manselle with artwork inspired by the cover of "Invasion of Privacy.".
'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 précis of her ethos:
Cardi B has been called "unabashedly, directly political" and often uses social media to advocate for causes she believes in, such as gun control. During the 2016 presidential primaries, she warned her fans of Donald Trump's immigration policies and encouraged them to "vote for daddy Bernie [Sanders]." At the Grammy Awards in 2018, she appeared in a video along with Hillary Clinton to narrate a portion of Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff's insider's account of Trump's administration, and stated "Why am I even reading this shit? I can't believe this. I can't believe—this is how he really lives his life?" Cardi B endorsed Sanders once again in his second bid for the presidency in the 2020 United States presidential election, while praising U.S. Representative Tim Ryan.
She has praised president Franklin D. Roosevelt as the "real 'Make America Great Again'" for advocating for the Social Security program and the New Deal project in general and has noted her admiration for his wife Eleanor Roosevelt's humanitarianism and advocacy for African-Americans. She said of Franklin D. Roosevelt, "he helped us get over the Depression, all while he was in a wheelchair. Like, this man was suffering from polio at the time of his presidency, and yet all he was worried about was trying to make America great—make America great again for real. He's the real 'Make America Great Again,' because if it wasn't for him, old people wouldn't even get Social Security." Senator Bernie Sanders has praised Cardi B for her "leading role" in calling attention to Social Security. During the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown she released a video on Instagram, where she noted "our country is a hellhole right now" that quickly went viral.
Cardi B caused significant controversy after throwing one of her shoes at, and attempting to physically fight, fellow rapper Nicki Minaj at an after-party hosted by Harper's Bazaar during New York Fashion Week 2018. She later stated that Minaj had previously "liked" comments made by other users on social media, who spoke negatively about Cardi B's abilities to take care of her newly born daughter. Minaj denied the accusations.
After the release of "Girls", a collaboration with Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX, in May 2018, Cardi B responded to the accusations of the song trivializing and sexualizing LGBT relationships. She stated on Twitter, "We never try [sic] to cause harm or had bad intentions with the song." She then went on to say, "I personally myself [sic] had experiences with other women."
In March 2019, a live-stream from Instagram resurfaced from 2016 featuring Cardi B stating she had drugged and robbed men that willingly came with her to hotel rooms for sex. The video was condemned on social media but she defended her behavior, saying it was necessary at the time for her to survive.
On October 1, 2018, Cardi B agreed to meet with investigators at a Queens police station, in connection with an alleged attack she ordered on two bartenders. Cardi B's lawyer, Jeff Kern, denied that she was guilty of the accusation. She was charged with two misdemeanors: assault and reckless endangerment. Cardi B appeared in court for her arraignment on December 7, 2018, after she failed to show up for the originally scheduled date due to a scheduling conflict, according to her attorney. She was ordered by the judge to avoid having any contact with the two bartenders. She was released by the judge despite prosecutors requesting bail to be set at $2,500.
Cardi has a noted affinity for Christian Louboutin heels, a running theme in her song "Bodak Yellow". She has also mentioned her affinity for cheap, fast fashion brands stating "I don't care if it cost $20 or $15. If it looks good on me, it looks good on me". In November 2018 she released a clothing line collection with Fashion Nova. Cardi wore vintage Thierry Mugler to the 2018 Grammy Awards.
As of early 2017, Cardi B began publicly dating fellow American rapper Offset, of the southern hip hop group Migos. 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. On April 7, 2018, Cardi B revealed that she was pregnant with Offset's child on Saturday Night Live. On June 25, 2018, TMZ found a marriage license revealing Cardi B and Offset had secretly married in September 2017 privately in their bedroom. Cardi B later went on to confirm this revelation in a social media post. In July 2018, Cardi B gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Kulture Kiari Cephus. In December 2018 she announced on Instagram that she and Offset had broken up. In February 2019, the couple made a public appearance for the Grammys. They accepted the award for Best Rap Album together.
Cardi B's younger sister, Hennessy Carolina, also has a strong following on social media and has accompanied her to award shows, such as the 2017 Grammy Awards. Cardi B is a fan of fast food; one of her favorites is McDonalds.
We are Caribbean people [...] Some people want to decide if you're black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don't understand Caribbean people or our culture. I feel like people need to understand or get a passport and travel. I don't got to tell you that I'm black. I expect you to know it. When my father taught me about Caribbean countries, he told me that these Europeans took over our lands. That's why we all speak different languages [...] Just like everybody else, we came over here the same way. I hate when people try to take my roots from me. Because we know that there's African roots inside of us...
Awards and nominations
Cardi B received her first two nominations at the 2017 BET Awards. She won five awards at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards and four more awards at 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards. She has received seven Grammy Award nominations winning one. She has won three American Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, an NRJ Music Award, four iHeartRadio Music Awards, two BET Awards, and seven Billboard Music Award. She has earned two Guinness World Records: Most simultaneous Billboard US Hot 100 entries by a female and Most simultaneous Billboard US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Top 10 entries by a female.
- Invasion of Privacy (2018)
|2015–17||Love & Hip Hop: New York||Herself||Main cast, seasons 6–7|
|2015||Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne||Herself||Season 1, episode: 23|
|2016||Kocktails with Khloé||Herself||Season 1, episode: "Khloé Kardashian Spills the Tea"|
|2017||Being Mary Jane||Mercedes||Season 4, episode: "Getting Real"|
|2017||Hip Hop Squares||Herself, panelist||Season 1, episodes: "Ray J vs Princess Love", "Jessica White vs Joe Budden"|
|2018||Saturday Night Live||Herself, musical guest||Episode: "Chadwick Boseman/Cardi B"|
|2018||The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon||Herself, co-host||For a week|
|2019||Rhythm + Flow||Herself, judge||Netflix|
- The Lox – Filthy America... It's Beautiful (2017)
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