Cardi B first captured the attention of the globe on social media with her strong and candid attitude about life as a stripper. She began appearing on VH1’s reality show Love & Hip Hop: New York in 2015 and quit the show in 2017 to pursue music full-time. That same year, she had her No. 1 single “Bodak Yellow” released by Atlantic Records, and she won a Grammy for her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, in 2019. In September 2017, she secretly married Migos member Offset.
Early Life and Parents
Cardi B, born Belcalis Almanzar on October 11, 1992, was born and reared in The Bronx, New York, and also spent a lot of time with her grandmother in neighboring Washington Heights. She is of mixed Caribbean ethnicity, with her mother being Trinidadian and her father being Dominican.
She was a member of the Bloods gang during her adolescence and attended Renaissance High School For Musical Theater & Technology. She decided to become a stripper to escape poverty and an abusive relationship, and she has openly said how happy she is of her decision.
“It really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping I went back to school,” she said.
Despite dropping out of school, Cardi B was able to carve her own path to the top, first through social media (through Vine and Instagram), then as a reality star (Love & Hip Hop: New York), and finally as a music business force.
Cardi B admitted to drugging and robbing men while working as a stripper in an Instagram Live video that went viral in March 2019. She addressed the issue on social media a few days later but did not apologize, instead adding, “I did what I had to do to survive.”
Cardi B revealed her name comes from the alcoholic beverage Bacardi. “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,” she said.
Cardi B Songs & Albums
From ‘Boom Boom’ to ‘Gangsta B*tch Music, Vols. 1 & 2’
Cardi B debuted her musical abilities for the first time in the fall of 2015, on Jamaican singer Shaggy’s remixed hit “Boom Boom.” She released her first mixtape, Gangsta B*tch Music, Vol. 1, in March 2017, and in September she partnered with other hip-hop artists to produce the KSR Group collection Underestimated: The Album, which contained her single “What a Girl Likes.”
2017 promised even more prospects. In February, the rapper not only released her second mixtape, Gangsta B*tch Music, Vol. 2, but she also signed her first professional record deal with Atlantic Records.
Staying busy on the touring circuit, Cardi B was recognized as a rising star, being nominated at the 2017 BET Awards under the Best New Artist and Best Female Hip-Hop Artist categories.
‘Bodak Yellow’ Goes No. 1
Cardi B’s commercial debut single, “Bodak Yellow,” which was released in August 2017, became a viral sensation, eventually topping the Billboard Hot 100, the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and becoming triple platinum. When “Bodak Yellow” reached No. 1, it created rap history, as the last female solo rapper to do so was Lauryn Hill in 1998 with “Doo Wop (That Thing).”
Cardi B added to her popularity that year by collaborating on G-Eazy’s “No Limit,” Migos’ “MotorSport,” Puerto Rican phenomenon Ozuna’s “La Modelo,” and releasing her second song “Bartier Cardi” in December.
Cardi B received two Grammy nominations in 2017 for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, in addition to her BET Award nominations, and performed her collaboration with Bruno Mars, “Finesse,” during the January 2018 performance. A few months later, she received eight nominations for the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, winning Top Rap Female Artist.
‘Invasion of Privacy’
Cardi B released her long-awaited first album, Invasion of Privacy, on April 6, 2018. Along with songs that fans were already familiar with, the album featured collaborations with Migos and 21 Savage.Because of the earlier success of “Bodak Yellow,” Invasion of Privacy was already eligible for a Gold certification at the time of its release, but within a few days it had already established a new standard for activity on Apple Music, smashing Taylor Swift’s previous record for most streams by a female artist in an album’s first week.
Cardi B made history again in July when her single “I Like It” from Invasion of Privacy debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first female rapper to do so twice.
Cardi B released her second collaboration with Mars, “Please Me,” in February 2019, and won the Best Rap Album Grammy for Invasion of Privacy, making her the first solo woman to do so. Cardi received Album of the Year accolades at the BET Awards in June, just after the release of another hit, “Press.”
The singer made her feature film debut in Hustlers that September, playing a stripper named Diamond alongside Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu.
Cardi B and Offset
After dating for eight months, Migos member Offset proposed to Cardi B at a concert in Philadelphia in October 2017. “She is real solid, came from where I came from, did what I did,” he told Rolling Stone. “She’s herself, man. I seen her develop from the trenches all the way up… I respect her grind as a woman. She came to the game with some gangsta sh*t.”
The happy news of the couple’s engagement immediately became controversial as allegations of Offset’s infidelity spread. Cardi B, on the other hand, publicly defended her fiancée, assuring fans that everyone handles relationships differently.
Cardi B confirmed her pregnancy after weeks of rumors, by showing off her baby belly during an April 2018 performance on Saturday Night Live. She exclaimed, “I’m finally free!” after joining pals backstage, relieved that she no longer had to conceal the news. She announced in May 2018 that she was expecting a girl.
The rapper subsequently canceled a series of planned shows through the spring and summer, announcing that the late April Broccoli City Festival in Washington, D.C., would be her final performance until joining Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour in September.
In June, after enjoying a baby shower in Atlanta, Cardi B addressed another rumor by confirming on Twitter that she and Offset had gotten secretly married in September 2017—one month before his public proposal at her concert. “We found someone to marry us, and she did, just the two of us and my cousin. I said I do, with no dress, no makeup and no ring!” she tweeted, adding, “Well now since you lil nosey f**ks know at least ya can stop saying I had a baby out of wedlock.”
Cardi B became a mom with the birth of daughter Kulture Kiari Cephus on July 10, 2018, making the announcement to fans the following day on Instagram.
In late July, Cardi B revealed on Instagram that she was pulling out of the planned fall tour with Mars, admitting that she had “underestimated the whole mommy thing.” Mars offered his unconditional support in a reply post, confirming she was “absolutely doing the right thing” and offering to play “Bodak Yellow” in her honor while touring.
In December 2018, Cardi and Offset announced their split. “So everybody been bugging me and everything and you know I’ve been trying to work things out with my baby father for a hot minute now,” she said a video posted to Instagram. “And we are really good friends and we are really good business partners — you know, he’s always somebody that I run to, to talk to, and we got a lot of love for each other but things just haven’t been working out between us for a long time.”
Despite the marital difficulties, the couple had patched things up by early 2019.
In September 2020, Cardi filed for divorce from Offset, but the couple later reconciled.
Arrest and Indictment
Cardi B surrendered to New York City police on October 1, 2018, in connection with an August 2018 strip club incident in Queens, New York, in which she allegedly ordered her entourage to attack two bartenders. The rapper was detained and charged with assault and reckless endangerment, both misdemeanors.
After declining a plea agreement, a grand jury indicted Cardi in June 2019 on two counts of felony attempted assault, as well as six felonies and six infractions.
During a trial for Brooklyn-born hip hop artist 6ix9ine later that summer, the rapper named Cardi B as a member of New York City’s Nine Trey Gangster Bloods. Cardi later denied any involvement with the gang.