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". Selected by The Washington Post and Pitchfork music critics as the best song of 2017, "Bodak Yellow" was eventually certified nonuple 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.
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar (born October 11, 1992), known professionally as Cardi B, is an American rapper, songwriter, television personality, and actress. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, New York City, she became an Internet celebrity after several of her posts and videos became popular 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, which depicted her pursuit of her music aspirations. She released two mixtapes—Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, before signing with label Atlantic Records in early 2017.
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar was born on October 11, 1992, in Washington Heights, Manhattan. The daughter of a Dominican father and Trinidadian mother, she was raised in the Highbridge 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. She has said she was a gang member with the Bloods in her youth, 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.
Her debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy (2018), debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, broke several streaming records, was certified triple platinum by the RIAA and named by Billboard the top female rap album of the 2010s. Critically acclaimed, it won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, making Cardi B the only woman to win the award as a solo artist, as well as the first female rap artist in 15 years to be nominated for Album of the Year. It spawned two number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100; "Bodak Yellow", which made her the second female rapper to top the chart with a solo output—following Lauryn Hill in 1998—and "I Like It", which made her the first female rapper to attain multiple number-one songs on the chart. Her Maroon 5 collaboration "Girls Like You" made her the only female rapper to top the Hot 100 three times. "WAP", the lead single of her second album, expanded her record as the female rapper with the most Hot 100 number-one singles as her fourth leader, and made her the only female rap artist to achieve chart-topping singles in two different decades (2010s and 2020s).
In 2013, she began to gain publicity due to several of her videos spreading on social media, on Vine and her Instagram page.
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 British 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. This was 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.
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.
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, though the pair later reunited. In February 2019, the couple made a public appearance for the Grammys. He accompanied her on the stage during her acceptance speech for Best Rap Album. In September 2020, it was reported that Cardi B has filed for divorce.
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.
Cardi B is the recipient of numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award, seven Billboard Music Awards, five Guinness World Records, four American Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, four BET Awards, and eleven BET Hip Hop Awards. Time included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018. She received the ASCAP award for Songwriter of the Year in 2019, becoming the first female rapper to win the award. She received the honor for the second time in 2020, making her the first female songwriter to win the award twice.
In 2018, she became the first female rapper in the US to appear on the cover of Vogue. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the cover, one of four for the January 2019 issue that included Stella McCartney, features her in a red and white Michael Kors dress and matching red Jimmy Choo shoes, while holding her daughter, Kulture.
In an interview in 2018, Cardi talked about being Afro-Latina and Afro-Caribbean:
On February 15, 2019, Cardi B released "Please Me", a collaboration with Bruno Mars, which became her seventh top-ten song on the Hot 100, reaching number three. The song marked Cardi and Bruno's second collaboration, following "Finesse" in 2018. The official music video was released two weeks later. 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. Her following single titled "Press" was released on May 31, 2019. The parental-advisory labeled music video marked her directorial debut—being credited as co-director, and was released on June 26, 2019. It had its debut performance at the 2019 BET Awards, where she won Album of the Year. During the summer of 2019 she embarked on an arena tour.
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 achieved the most-streamed album of the year by a female artist globally in Apple Music, and ranked as the most streamed female artist of the year in the United States in Spotify. 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. Also in 2018, Time included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In its decade-end review article, NME stated that the era secured "her crown as the new Queen of Rap."
Recognized by Forbes as one of the most influential female rappers of all time, Cardi B is known for her aggressive flow and candid lyrics, which have received widespread media coverage. She is the highest-certified female rapper of all time on the RIAA's Top Artists (Digital Singles) ranking, also appearing among the ten highest-certified female artists and having the top certified song by a female rap artist. She is the only female rapper with multiple billion-streamers on Spotify. Her accolades include a Grammy Award, seven Billboard Music Awards, five Guinness World Records, four American Music Awards, eleven BET Hip Hop Awards and two ASCAP Songwriter of the Year awards. In 2018, Time included her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Cardi B has further been credited for supporting and uniting female rappers in the music industry.
The star 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 President Trump's immigration policies and encouraged them to vote for Senator 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 also praising U.S. Representative Tim Ryan. She also stated that one of the reasons for her endorsement is Sanders' long-time involvement in supporting underprivileged minorities and "people getting Medicare because he knows they can't afford it," while Politico website argued that she "might be one of Bernie's most powerful 2020 allies." She has also used her social pages to raise awareness for victims of police brutality, and has encouraged people to vote for mayors, judges and district attorneys in local elections. In a conversation with Democratic candidate Joe Biden for Elle, they discussed Medicare, free college tuition, and racial equality.
On January 3, 2018, Cardi B was featured on Bruno Mars' remix version of "Finesse", and also appeared in the 90s inspired video. It reached the top three on the Hot 100, Canada and New Zealand. 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 Songs 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. Cardi held the latter record until 2019. 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.
After the release of "Girls" in May 2018, a collaboration where she had a featured verse, Cardi B responded to the accusations of the song trivializing and sexualizing LGBT relationships. She stated on Twitter, "We never try to cause harm or had bad intentions with the song." Cardi B then went on to say, "I personally myself had experiences with other women."
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. It received critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone naming it "the best summer song of all time" in 2020. 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 2.7 billion views on YouTube 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 the most cumulative weeks atop the chart, with eleven weeks. It spent 33 weeks in the top 10, tying both Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" and Post Malone and Swae Lee's "Sunflower" for the longest top 10 run in the chart's archives at the time. In October 2018, Invasion of Privacy was certified double platinum by the RIAA, and the following year it was updated to triple platinum. With the thirteen tracks, she became the first female artist to have all songs from an album certified gold or higher in the US.
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 denied involvement through her attorney. 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. On June 21, 2019, a grand jury indicted Cardi B on 14 charges, including two counts of felony assault with intent to cause serious physical injury, stemming from the incident. She was arraigned on June 25, 2019 and pleaded not guilty on all charges.
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 collection with Fashion Nova. Cardi wore vintage Thierry Mugler to the 2018 Grammy Awards. An article from Vogue noted she "is famous for her statement getups—whether she's rocking archival Mugler on the red carpet, or dripping in Chanel while sitting courtside at a basketball game." Her over-the-top manicures, designed by nail artist Jenny Bui and studded with Swarovski crystals, has become a part of her signature look.
In 2019, the Council of Fashion Designers of America included her on their list of "28 Black Fashion Forces".
NPR defined "Cardi B effect" as "a branding power rooted in specific authenticity, created and permeated by rapper Cardi B" and noticed that with her breakthrough, "brands finally started to become hip to [her] effect, noticing the cultural markers outside of the rap world that were proving it wasn't limited to clubs, concerts and radio." Business magazine Inc. stated that her success "shows how social media changed everything we knew about traditional marketing and media", which no longer relies on a "well-thought marketing scheme or millions of dollars in advertising." Articles by Vogue and The Telegraph have referred to her as a "fashion icon for our times." In 2019, a life-sized sculpture of her was on display at the Brooklyn Museum, as part of Spotify's RapCaviar "Pantheon". Bloomberg reported that her data bill helped to boost Ghana's GDP growth in 2019, after it was part of a concert tour. She inspired the creation of the sitcom Partners in Rhyme, executively produced by MC Lyte about a young woman in high school who "aspires to be the next Cardi B." P-Valley creator Katori Hall credited her influence for "helping prepare the public" for the storyline depicted in the TV series. Singer-songwriter Rosalía has cited her among her influences. Cardi B has been credited for supporting and uniting female rappers in the industry.
Cardi B 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). On February 10, 2019, she then performed at the award ceremony, where she 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. Cardi B also 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, including for Top Hot 100 Song, bringing her career total wins to seven—the most of any female rapper in history. An article by Omaha World-Herald called her "the biggest rapper in the world."
In March 2019, a livestream from Instagram resurfaced from 2016 where she can be heard claiming that in the past she "had drugged and robbed men" who willingly came with her to hotel rooms for sex. She stated that the men she referred to were conscious, willing and aware; they were getting "twisted in the club" before approaching her, and denied putting anything on a man's drink. She added that she took some money from them because they wasted her time by falling asleep, and then "kept coming back." She concluded by saying that at the time she had very limited options to survive, and feels a responsibility not to glorify it.
Cardi B made her film debut in Hustlers directed by Lorene Scafaria, opposite Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and Lili Reinhart. The film was released on September 13, 2019 to critical acclaim. Cardi B, along with Chance the Rapper and T.I., were confirmed as judges for the Netflix series Rhythm + Flow, a ten-part hip-hop talent search that premiered on October 9, 2019, which she also executive produced. She will next appear in F9, which is set to be released on April 2, 2021, by Universal Pictures. In September 2019, Cardi B became the highest-certified female rapper of all time on the RIAA's Top Artists (Digital Singles) ranking, with 31.5 million certified units, also being the ninth highest-certified female artist overall. Forbes has recognized her as one of the most influential female rappers of all time. In December 2019, Cardi B embarked on her first tour of Africa, performing in Nigeria and Ghana. Her collaboration "Clout" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. She was the most streamed female rapper of 2019 in the US, according to Spotify. Consequence of Sound deemed her "one of the most formidable hip-hop artists of the decade." In March 2020, Cardi B created a reaction video about the coronavirus pandemic. DJ iMarkkeyz, a Brooklyn DJ known for turning memes and online moments into full-length songs, created a track, based on her reaction titled "Coronavirus", which became an internet meme and was released to music platforms. Netflix announced the return of Rhythm + Flow for 2021.
Multiple publications, including Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Entertainment Weekly, have called her "Hip Hop's Reigning Queen" since the release of Invasion of Privacy. Spin staff credited her for opening "the table to a new generation of pop artists remaking American music in their own image and accents. [Cardi B] recognized that POC artists no longer need to pander or soften themselves in order to become household names." An article from Uproxx noted Cardi B for promoting up-and-coming female rappers; "[she is] choosing to use her position at the height of stardom to open doors for other women to flourish in hip-hop at a greater level than any since the Golden Era and "Ladies First". This is something of a departure from tradition; for the decade previous to Cardi's precipitous come-up, it seemed hip-hop had an unspoken, Highlander-esque rule in place regarding women." The New Yorker also credited her for "changing a genre that has rarely allowed for more than one female superstar at a time." Billboard editors stated that with "Bodak Yellow"'s commercial success, "she left an indelible mark on the summer of 2017, not only because she rewrote history, but she gave hope to the have nots...". "I Like It" became the first Latin trap song to reach number one on the Hot 100, which reflected "the times, the moment and the new openness of the world" towards Spanish-infused music in streaming services according to the magazine. In 2020, The Wall Street Journal's Neil Shah stated that "today's female-rap renaissance was sparked partly by the success of Cardi B", while Genius staff credited her for "helping jumpstart a new wave of female hip-hop signings and promotion at labels".
Cardi B released the single "WAP" featuring American rapper Megan Thee Stallion on August 7, 2020 as the first single off her forthcoming second studio album. The song received critical acclaim and was praised for its sex positive messages. The Colin Tilley-directed music video accompanied the song itself, and broke the record for the biggest 24-hour debut for an all-female collaboration on YouTube. She became the only female rap artist to top the Global Spotify chart multiple times. "WAP" debuted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, garnering Cardi B her fourth chart-topper in the US, extending her record as the female rapper with the most number-one singles, and also making her the first female rapper to achieve Hot 100 number one singles in two different decades (2010s and 2020s). With 93 million streaming units, it became the largest first-week streams for a song, breaking the all-time record held by Ariana Grande's "7 Rings". It has spent three weeks atop the Hot 100. The single also reached number one in six other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom. Neil Shah of The Wall Street Journal deemed it "a big moment for female rappers" and "a historic sign that women artists are making their mark on hip-hop like never before". "WAP" became the first number one single on the inaugural Billboard Global 200 chart.
Cardi B caused controversy after throwing one of her high heel 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. Nevertheless, she covered the spring fashion issue of Harper's Bazaar in early 2019, featuring her in a Cinderella-themed photo shoot wearing a red gown and leaving a shoe behind, which some writers found reflective of the incident.
Cardi B teamed up with Pepsi for two television commercials, which aired during the Super Bowl LIII and the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. In early 2019, Cardi also joined other hip hop artists (including her husband Offset, as part of Migos) in releasing her flavors of snack food Rap Snacks: two flavors of chips, and two of popcorn. The bags' artwork were inspired by the cover of Invasion of Privacy.