The very real Cardi B effect

Photo courtesy of | The reality TV star turned Billboard-smashing rapper has made major waves in the pop culture community. From her legendary body suits to her Jimmy Fallon interview, the rising star is doing fame her own way.

I have loved Cardi B since her early vines. She is genuinely funny and fast-talking, and she never allows others’ judgements keep her from living her life.

2017 was the year of the Cardi B effect, not only in music but also rap and pop culture in general. She broke records when her single, “Bodak Yellow,” became the longest charting #1 song by a solo female rapper since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998.

Even with this under her belt, Cardi remains humble and light-hearted with her success. In a 2017 interview with Billboard on YouTube, Cardi said beating Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” as the No. 1 summer single was “a lovely surprise…it was a close race…it’s like yeah, I hit No.1, but it’s like, history.”

Almost everyone, whether they’d admit it or not, was blasting “Bodak Yellow” over the summer at one point or at least talking about this unique woman. Since her iconic single dropped over the summer, she’s dropped her second mixtape, Gangsta B#tch Music Vol. 2, and has collaborated with some of the biggest artists in pop and rap like Migos, Nicki, G-Eazy, A$AP Rocky, D.R.A.M and Bruno Mars. Cardi didn’t open the door for strong women in the music industry, but she did break the lock for everyone else following her.

Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, grew up in the South Bronx. She was born Oct. 11, 1992, to her Dominican father and Trinidadian mother. At 19, Cardi was fired from her day job at a Manhattan grocery store and went on to become an exotic dancer. In an interview with VladTV on YouTube, Cardi opened up on how working as a stripper gave her the financial independence to leave her abusive boyfriend.

“I was poor, I was living with my boyfriend who was beating me up every day, I had to drop outta school…How was I gonna leave if I only made 200 dollars a week? (They) make it (stripping) so negative, but it really saved me from a lotta things,” she said.

She became famous on Vine and Instagram in 2013 for her hilarious videos where she unapologetically spoke about her life as a stripper, gaining millions of followers. In 2015 she became a staple character on VH1’s Love and Hip Hop, gaining popularity.

Cardi is the same version of herself that her early fans still recognize. She has not altered her personality since breaking into popular culture in order to remain relevant to a mainstream audience, which is rarely the case for new artists. Most importantly, Cardi B has never been afraid to open up about topics that remain slightly taboo, like her experiences as a stripper and how it has altered her body image, her plastic surgery and her experiences with domestic violence, anti-Black racism within the Latino community and everyday sexism.

Personally, I appreciate any woman who can use sexism and hypersexualization against women/feminine individuals and flip them to her own advantage. Cardi doesn’t need anyone but herself to thrive in 2018, both in her career and personal life. In the music industry, it’s easy to ‘create’ an image where artists must follow strict guidelines, like sticking to a specific persona (good-girl-gone-bad/innocent virgin) to keep fans happy. This often results in artists being stuck in a vacuum of unoriginality because of fears of plummeting sales, which artists with enough resources and status within pop culture are sometimes able to escape. Hopefully, the Cardi effect will help original minds remain true to themselves first in music.

By: Toni Carlotta ~Staff Writer~