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Cardi B

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Last updated on
February 25, 2024

Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, known professionally as Cardi B, was born on October 11, 1992, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, to a Dominican father, Carlos, and a Trinidadian mother, Clara. Growing up in a multicultural household, Cardi B was exposed to a rich tapestry of cultural traditions that would later influence her music and public persona. Her upbringing in the Highbridge neighborhood of the South Bronx, a place known for its vibrant culture as well as its socioeconomic challenges, played a significant role in shaping her character and ambitions.

Early Life and Family Dynamics

Cardi B's family life was characterized by the strong influences of her parents' Caribbean heritage, which was reflected in the music, food, and traditions of her household. Despite the hardships associated with their environment, Cardi B's parents worked hard to provide for their family. Her father, a taxi driver, and her mother, a cashier, instilled in her the values of hard work and perseverance. Cardi B has a younger sister named Hennessy Carolina, with whom she shares a close bond. The name "Cardi B" is a derivative of Bacardi, a rum brand, which was a nickname given to her because of her sister's name, Hennessy.

Struggles and Early Career Moves

During her teenage years, Cardi B became involved with the Bloods street gang, a decision she later expressed regret over, emphasizing the negative aspects of gang affiliation. To escape poverty and domestic violence, she turned to stripping at the age of 19. Cardi B has openly discussed how this period of her life was both a means of survival and a pivotal moment that allowed her to regain control over her future. Stripping provided the financial stability she needed to pursue her education and invest in her musical aspirations.

Rise to Fame

Cardi B's charismatic personality and natural talent for performance soon found an outlet on social media, where she amassed a large following by sharing her thoughts on life, fame, and her experiences in a candid and humorous manner. Her social media presence caught the attention of producers from VH1's "Love & Hip Hop: New York," and she joined the cast in 2015. Her time on the show highlighted her musical ambitions and charismatic personality, setting the stage for her breakout as a music artist.

A year later, she made her musical debut alongside dancehall singer Popcaan on Shaggy's "Boom Boom" single. The solo single "Cheap Ass Weave" and the mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 soon followed in early 2016. Two more singles, "Foreva" and "Wash Poppin'," arrived that summer. A second mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2, was released in early 2017.

That same year, Cardi B signed with Atlantic Records and scored a hit with the single "Bodak Yellow," which climbed to the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 in late September; it made her the first solo female rapper to do so since 1998. Her chart run continued with features on G-Eazy's "No Limit" and Migos' "MotorSport," two additional Top Ten hits that crowned Cardi as the first female rapper to have her first three entries land in the Top Ten of the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. After the release of her single "Bartier Cardi" featuring 21 Savage, Cardi hopped onto a remix of Bruno Mars' "Finesse." The new jack swing revival track soared to number three in the U.S. and topped charts across the globe. With these singles, Cardi became the first woman in history to have five simultaneous Top Ten singles on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

In 2017, Cardi B released "Bodak Yellow," a track that propelled her to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making her the first female rapper to achieve this feat with a solo song since Lauryn Hill in 1998. The success of "Bodak Yellow" marked the beginning of Cardi B's rise to international fame.

Continued Musical Success and Collaborations

Her official debut studio album, "Invasion of Privacy," arrived in spring 2018. Including her two breakthrough singles, the album also featured appearances by Migos ("Drip"), Chance the Rapper ("Best Life"), Kehlani ("Ring"), SZA ("I Do"), YG ("She Bad"), and Bad Bunny and J. Balvin on "I Like It." The latter track was issued as a single and made a steady climb to the top of the Hot 100 in July 2018, making Cardi the first female rapper to achieve two number ones.

That summer, she was also featured on hit singles with Jennifer Lopez ("Dinero") and Maroon 5 ("Girls Like You"). To cap her banner year, she was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, and "Invasion of Privacy" was included on numerous year-end critics' lists. The album went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Album, making Cardi the first solo female rapper to achieve the honor.

In 2019, she was nominated again in the category of Best Rap Performance for her Offset collaboration "Clout." In August 2020, Cardi B topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with the song "WAP," a collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion. Six months later, Cardi landed another smash hit with 2021's "Up," a drill-inspired solo single that earned global success and topped four different Billboard charts. Cardi B also contributed to hits by Normani ("Wild Side") and Lizzo ("Rumors") before returning in 2022 with the Kanye West and Lil Durk collaboration "Hot Shit."

Personal Life Developments

Cardi B's personal life also saw significant events. Her marriage to Offset, a member of the hip-hop trio Migos, was a subject of public interest, with the couple experiencing ups and downs that were often shared with the public. They welcomed their first child, Kulture Kiari Cephus, in July 2018. Despite facing challenges in their relationship, including a brief separation, Cardi B and Offset continued to work on their marriage, welcoming their second child, a son, in September 2021. Cardi B has been open about the challenges of balancing her career with motherhood, often sharing her experiences and insights with her fans.

Advocacy and Social Influence

Beyond music, Cardi B has used her platform to advocate for social and political issues. She has been vocal about her support for various causes, including racial equality, women's rights, and political engagement. Her interviews with political figures, such as Bernie Sanders, and her candid discussions about the importance of voting and political awareness among her followers, have highlighted her role as an influencer in the political sphere.

Business Ventures and Acting

Expanding her horizons beyond music, Cardi B ventured into business and acting. She partnered with various brands, launched her own fashion collections, and made her feature film debut in the 2019 movie "Hustlers," showcasing her versatility and entrepreneurial spirit. Her involvement in these projects demonstrated her ability to transcend music and make her mark in other industries.

Recognition and Awards

Throughout these years, Cardi B continued to receive critical acclaim and numerous awards for her contributions to music and culture. She made history at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019 by becoming the first solo female artist to win Best Rap Album for "Invasion of Privacy." Her continued success at award shows and her influence on music charts underscored her status as one of the leading figures in contemporary music.

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