Cardi B is a force to be reckoned with! Riding a wave of success so high she’s been shot into the superstardom heavens, it’s her compelling backstory that’s got everyone still scratching their heads, trying to figure out just who exactly this girl is. Although she’s flamboyant, true to herself and very real—at times, a little too real (her retelling of how she felt when she met Beyoncé says it all)—she’s a breath of fresh air. Everyone from Queen Bey herself to Bruno Mars to Oprah to Green Day is totally diggin’ her vibe. Probably because she doesn’t censor herself, and she’s pretty darn funny. Her charm is infectious and with a story like hers, well, she’s just as human as the rest of us—okurrrr? Here are 40 bare-it-all facts about Cardi B.
40. What’s in a Name?
With a tongue-twisting real name like Belcalis Almanzar, it’s not surprising that even Cardi’s parents gave her a nickname—but then again, considering its origin, maybe it is. They nicknamed her Bacardi, after the rum, which is a little out there, but it’s got some real staying power and is way easier to remember. From Bacardi came Cardi, and the rest is history.
39. There’s a Trend Here
Clearly, her parents have a thing for top-shelf liquor—why name one kid after your favorite spirit when you can name two? Cardi B’s sister’s name is Hennessey. Appropriate.
38. Adds to the Mystery
Cardi clearly likes wordplay and letter jumbles. Her hit “Bodak Yellow” pays homage to rapper Kodak Black. Even though she doesn’t mention the words Bodak or Yellow in the song, she explains that “I named it ‘Bodak Yellow’ because the flow of the song will remind you of a song that Kodak Black did called ‘No Flockin.'”
37. Private Dancer
She’s pretty open about it, but in case you didn’t get the memo, Cardi B used to be a stripper—however, her story is a little different, and she’s felt pretty empowered by it.
36. It Worked for Her
Cardi bared it all working at a club for for just under three and a half years when she was 19—and she loved it. While she doesn’t recommend it to everyone, for her, she was proud to be able to make money, pay her bills and get her own apartment.
35. Real Talk
Before working at the club, Cardi says she was “poor as h**l,” and “I was living with my ex-boyfriend that was beating my a**, I had to drop out of school. I was like living with his mama [and] two pit bulls in one bedroom. It was cray.” No wonder she took a different path where she could earn her own way in the world.
34. She’s Got Drivers
Cardi doesn’t drive—she doesn’t have a license, but she does have a Bentley. Priorities!
33. Why She’s Pro Plastic Surgery
Especially after working in an environment where you have to let it all hang out, Cardi is upfront about how it played into her self esteem. Constantly having to flaunt what you’ve got came at a price, and she found herself constantly comparing herself to other dancers. “I always felt pretty, but when I got to the strip club, it got worse. It felt like a necessity to get them [breasts] done.”
32. No Bad Blood Here
When “Bodak Yellow” became number 1 and bumped off Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” off the charts, the country pop superstar sent Cardi a big bouquet of pink flowers. As happy as Cardi was, she admits, “Like, damn, why’d it have to be Taylor Swift? I like her, I like that damn song.”
31. Smoke and Mirrors
The reason why Cardi thinks she had a very successful dancing career is because she spent a lot of money on herself to look good and her customers want to see that illusion. According to Cardi, customers don’t go to clubs to spend money on girls who look like their cousins.
30. Dancing Money
Cardi went from making $250 a week working full-time at the supermarket to making $300 in 8 hours on her first shift at the club, which presumably exponentially grew once she got better at what she was doing!
29. Everybody’s Got a Story
Cardi hasn’t had the usual popstar trajectory of success. She started as a college drop out before becoming an exotic dancer, which led her to become an Instagram influencer. It was her online presence, starting from 2014, that landed her a spot on season 6 of the VH1 reality series Love & Hip Hop.
28. Personality Is Her Product
Her seemingly instant Insta fame is mostly because of her “extremely honest, stream of consciousness-style videos.” Even as a kid she was known for having a big personality and was kicked out of class for being disruptive and funny, so much so, she made teachers cry when she left, and jokes around “…but for the smartest person, the teachers weren’t crying for them…”
27. She’s a Big Kid Now
Cardi says she wasn’t a bad kid, just really disruptive. It’s hard for her not to tell jokes, and tell jokes she definitely still does.
26. Thick Accent
Born to a Dominican father and Trinidadian mother who both speak Spanish as their first language, Cardi naturally picked it up as her mother tongue, with English second, even though she grew up in a neighborhood in South Bronx.
25. Quite the Change Up
Before Cardi discovered that she could have a more luxurious lifestyle by stripping, she was working at an Amish market—nope, that’s not a supermarket run by Amish people (how would they have cash registers?)—it’s a food store in NYC.
24. A Bigger Life Plan
She got fired from the market for giving a co-worker too big of a discount, and it was her manager who encouraged her to pursue another line of work, saying that she was pretty, had a nice body and should go across the street to a strip club called New York Dolls.
23. Romance a la Cardi
Candles, rose petals, silk sheets… not for Cardi, whose idea of the perfect date is going to the club. She wants to get down with some drinks. What really does it for her is seeing girls throwing around the money they make.
22. True Say
Cardi believes that people don’t realize the work it takes to get rich, saying that being famous doesn’t make you rich. She firmly believes that people are wrong to think “she’s a dumb…because I can’t talk English properly.”
21. Keeping the Faith
Given her brash approach to life, usually scantily clad appearance, and revealing past, some might write off Cardi as non-religious. However, it’s quite the opposite. She says she has a relationship with God, and that “God knows her,” providing her with guidance each step of the way.
20. Sad Truth
Watching even only a few seconds of an interview with Cardi and it’s clear to see how natural she is in front of the camera and the audience. She is, however, shy when it comes to collaborating with male artists, fearful of the rumor mill spreading whatever fabrications about her spending alone time with her male counterparts to get ahead in the game.
19. An Early Adopter
The first celebrity to re-post one of Cardi’s videos and really help forge her musical career was Bobby Shmurda, an American rapper and songwriter from Brooklyn. He has since been sentenced to prison for conspiracy to commit murder, possession of weapons, and reckless endangerment.
18. Michelle Obama of the Hood
Cardi wants to be a role model for girls from the hood who don’t have many opportunities. She says that girls who haven’t graduated high school or even middle school won’t understand Michelle Obama’s vocabulary, but they will understand Cardi’s and if she can help them in a certain way that will entertain them and help them listen, then she’s for it.
17. Shopping With Cardi
Even after Cardi’s debut studio album hit number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, becoming the fifth female rapper to lead the list (and the first since 2012), fame hasn’t gotten to her head too much. She still likes to shop in the Bronx, specifically in Fordham, where you can “find all the thotty dresses and everything else.”
16. Girl Power
With Cardi’s first studio album reaching number one, she’s also the first female rapper to debut at number 1 since Eve’s Let There Be Eve in 1999—19 years ago!
15. The Real Royal Wedding
Cardi is engaged to rapper Offset, from the musical trio Migos, and pregnant with their first child. It’s possible that their wedding could be coming to a TV near you—it’s allegedly in the works to maybe televise the event, with both BET and VH1 trying to get the coverage rights.
14. Gotta Spend It to Earn It
For her two performances at Coachella in 2018, Cardi was paid $170,000. This agreement was reached six to nine months before the release of her album, and considering how her star has risen so meteorically in that time, they got quite the deal—especially considering that to match her star power, she ended up spending $300,000 of her own money on her set!
13. Worth It
Tired of haters making fun of her smile—she was well known for her crooked teeth—in May 2016 she got her teeth straightened and fixed, all for the same cost as a luxury SUV.
12. All Smiles
Thanks to Cardi’s bright shiny dental work, her dentist Dr. Catrise Austin has been making her own “money moves” with a significant wave of business—her business has tripled, with tons of people wanting her to work on their teeth. They probably heard her line in “Bodak Yellow,” where she says “Got a bag and fixed my teeth / Hope you hoes know it ain’t cheap.” That’s one way to put your dentist on the map!
11. She Believes In Herself
You gotta hand it to the girl, she didn’t wait around waiting for her career to happen. She willed it—spending upwards of $60,000 of her own money for song promotion on one of her older tracks, “Get Me Money” even though it never took off.
10. Priorities Priorities
While Cardi likes to drip in diamonds, literally, from her nails to her shoes and jewelry, she doesn’t spend much on clothes. She’s famously said, “..$100,000 on the wrist but my outfit costs like $60.”
9. A Collaboration In The Future?
Everyone loves Beyoncé, and so does Cardi but she thought she could make Beyoncé’s lyrics a little more her own, rewriting them to be “waaay sluttier.”
8. Shamed to Shameless
Feeling none now, Cardi did experience bouts of shame when she first started stripping. She hid it from her family for two years and told everybody, “I was babysitting for some real rich white people.”
7. Makes Sense
Two of Cardi’s fave artists are none other than famous envelope-pushers, boundary-breakers and fierce female leaders, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
6. Life Saver
Her previous job stripping actually saved Cardi’s life. It was this line of work that enabled her to make the money she needed to be able to afford to live on her own so she could leave her abusive ex-boyfriend.
5. Warning: Don’t Try This at Home
In 2014, feeling like her derriere could be a little more plump and round, Cardi got some under-the-table butt injections in someone’s basement for $800. She says it was the craziest pain she’d ever felt, and that there was NO numbing before the excruciating procedure. “I felt like I was gonna pass out. I felt a little dizzy.” She also experienced 5 days of leakage afterward.
4. Sounds About Right
Cardi confesses that meeting Beyoncé was so huge and nerve-wracking for her, that she got really nervous and “Actually, I wanted to sh*t on myself. It was a very scary thing.” She felt VERY shy meeting Queen B.
3. And The Cat Is Out Of The Bag
For her first time on Saturday Night Live, Cardi performed twice, but says her second performance was way worse because it was how she chose to officially reveal her baby bump—she gave a glam performance in a tight white dress against blue light. She says she started to get sweaty and itchy, and said to herself “Oh my god, the world’s gonna know that I’m pregnant. Here we go. Opiiiiiinions.”
2. Serious Street Cred
At 16, she became a Bloods gang member. She raps about it in her song “Red Barz.”
1. Here For a Good Time
Oops. Cardi broke a guy’s nose, but not how you would normally think. There was no violence involved. She just got a little into it when she was “sitting on a man’s face” a little too hard, and ended up sending him to the hospital with a broken face. She confessed, “…and he was doing such a good job, I got carried away and put my whole weight on him.”