She beat Taylor Swift to number one, used to be in the Bloods and broke a guy's nose during sex once. Meet Cardi B.
Cardi B is a boundless joy. She hit headlines last summer when she beat Taylor Swift‘s comeback single, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ to number one with ‘Bodak Yellow’, but has been a big player in the New York rap scene for years. From Bloods member to stripper and social media star, Cardi B hasn’t had the most traditional career path, but what does that matter? She’s a joker extraordinaire, as these facts prove.
1. Her name is a play on ‘Bacardi’
Believe it or not, this artist was not christened ‘Cardi B’. Her real name is Belcalis Almanzar, but she never uses it. Her sister was christened Hennessy, so their parents nicknamed Belcalis Bacardi. After several of her Instagram accounts under the nickname were shut down, she started to suspect the spirit makers weren’t happy about the name association. She flipped around a few of the consonants and the rest is history.
2. She grew up in Highbridge, South Bronx
“I ain’t gonna lie, sometimes I still miss the ‘hood,” said Cardi in the first episode of season 7 of Love & Hip Hop. She’s always been proud of her roots in the Bronx, but she’s been upfront about the issues she faced growing up: “At school there’s people that bully you, there are people in gangs, there are people doing drugs in your school. So you just see all of that and you become a different person. Everything that’s going on where I’m from, it really influenced me. It really influenced my music, it really influenced how I grew up.”
3. She was a teenage member of the Bloods gang
Part of that growing up process included being a member of the Bloods, says Cardi, since she was 16. She claims she’s “Flyer than a big big B with a Blood tie” in the track ‘Red Barz’.
4. She still shops on Fordham Road in the Bronx
These days she may wear Louboutins and sit next to Anna Wintour at fashion week, but Cardi says she still heads back to the Bronx to get her distinctive style. “That’s like our home. That’s where you find all the sneakers, thotty dresses and everything else.”
5. She’s a retired stripper
Cardi B has been very upfront about her stripping past. After getting fired from her job at the grocery store aged 19, she took up employment as an exotic dancer. She told her mother she was making money from babysitting for rich white people. She now takes pride in describing herself, not as a model or a comedian, but as a “stripper hoe.”
6. She believes stripping saved her life
Cardi credits stripping with “saving her life”, after it gave her the opportunity to escape an abusive relationship and become financially independent.
7. The first records she bought were by Missy Elliott and Tweet
8. She’s had a couple of plastic surgery operations – legit and non-legit
At the strip club, Cardi’s nagging desire for a boob job got a lot more real. She said: “I always knew I wanted to get my boobs done, but it was never a necessity. When I got to [the strip club] I felt like it was a necessity… Then when I went to the urban clubs I started to feel like I wasn’t thick enough.” Having got her boobs done by a legitimate doctor, Cardi went to get backstreet ass shots from “a lady” in Queens. Without anaesthetic she almost passed out after the first cheek, but the back-alley doc revived her for the second with milk and cookies.
9. She speaks a little Russian
Cardi never does anything by halves, so when she found herself surrounded by Russian colleagues in the strip club, she tried to learn the language. “It’s really, really, really hard,” she said. “I learned their music, I learned what they were saying, how to pronounce things, what certain words mean… now I don’t really know nobody Russian or French, so I don’t really fucking talk that shit no more.”
10. She appeared on Love & Hip Hop New York for two seasons
The reality TV show follows the often messy lives of NYC’s Hip-Hop industry big-wigs. Cardi was the breakout star of season 6, and the show still stands as the source of some of her best quotes – like this one:
11. Her chart-climbing will go down in history
Back in September 2017, Cardi B became the first solo female rapper in 19 years to top the US singles chart, after Lauryn Hill in 1998. ‘Bodak Yellow’ overtook Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ following the pop star’s return to music from a near three-year hiatus. Ever the diplomat, Swiftie congratulated our Cardi with a lovely bunch of flowers.
12. Lady Gaga and Madonna are her favourite musicians
Cardi B described her favourite artists as Madonna and Lady Gaga in this Billboard interview, and was pretty chuffed to play the former’s Oscars party. But let’s get to the heart of the matter – this epic lip-sync video where she and her sister dance around in their pants to ‘Applause’.
13. She is fiercely feminist
Cardi has been vocal about her support for feminism, but can’t stand the idea that it should be exclusionary to women of different lifestyles. “If you believe in equal rights between men and women – that makes you a feminist. I don’t understand how you bitches feel like being a feminist is being a woman that has an education, that have a degree. That is not being a feminist,” she said in an Instagram post. “The problem is that being a feminist is something so great and y’all don’t want me to be great, but too bad. I’m gonna encourage any type of woman.”
14. She once broke a guy’s nose by sitting on his face too hard
In one of many ultra-candid social media videos, Cardi tells the tale of the time she was sitting on a fella’s face, “and he was doing such a good job, I got carried away and put my whole weight on him.” The poor chap broke his nose, and the pair had to head to hospital. They told the doctors somebody jumped him.
15. She wants to run for president and launch the “keep it real party”
Ok, ok. She might have been taking the piss a bit, but back in 2016, Cardi responded to the pleas that she should run for president by saying she really would launch her own “keep it real” party and save us all from President Trump. Oh Cardi, if only you’d been serious. Her campaign included allowing the use of food stamps to buy McDonalds, and the slogan: “ISIS, suck a dick.”
16. She picks her scabs and smells her farts
Cardi B is openly “weird”. She has no problem with being very, very real about her personal habits. Who can honestly say this tweet isn’t at least a bit relatable?
17. She really likes ASMR
That stands for autonomous sensory meridian response – basically the tingly sensation some people get from soft, whispery voices and tapping sounds. It’s a big subgenre of YouTube video, and, like Frank Ocean, Cardi is into it.
18. She’s performed with Remy Ma, Lil Kim and Queen Latifah
At the 2017 Hot 97 Summer Jam, the hip hop queens performed ‘U.N.I.T.Y’, alongside The Lady of Rage, MC Lyte, Young M.A, and Monie Love. 5 minutes of pure perfect tune-age.
19. She’s got her own shoe collection with Steve Madden
Her love of ‘bloody’ Louboutins may have helped her dominate the charts, but if you want a real slice of the Cardi B wardrobe, you can pick up something much more affordable from her Steve Madden line. In her words, “You can look rich too!”
20. She’s engaged to Offset from Migos
They announced their relationship in May 2017, and by October the pair were getting ready for wedding bells. The ‘big week’ saw the pair have an argument on the 21st, make up on the 22nd, hit up a strip club together on the 25th, release their new joint single ‘Motorsport’ with Nicki Minaj on the 27th and announce their engagement on the 29th.
21. Her engagement ring is worth $500,000
This ring has pink diamonds around a very big rock, and is shaped like a raindrop. Get it gal.
21. She boosted the original Bruno Mars ‘Finesse’ Genius lyrics page by 8,832%
‘Finesse’ was originally part of the ‘24K Magic’ album, but didn’t pick up too many hits on the Genius lyrics page (125.5 a day on average). The Cardi remix made it an instant hit, and even the original lyrics page shot up to 11,210 average daily page views. That’s an increase of almost 9,000%.
22. She’s heading on tour with Bruno Mars
A month after releasing the ‘Finesse’ remix, Bruno Mars announced Cardi B would be joining him on tour in North America in Autumn. The pair also performed together at the Grammys, a wee preview of the joint tour.
23. Her album will be out in April
Cardi B announced her debut album release date for April 2018 at the iHeartRadio awards, ordering us all to “stay tuned, motherfuckers!” But if you can’t wait until then, Cardi has already dropped two mixtapes (famously, no bitch is working as hard as her); ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1’ and ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 2’. Bonafide banger central.