In 2011, when Cardi B lost her job at Manhattan’s Amish Market it was her former boss who suggested her new career path. “You have such a nice body,” he told her. “Why don’t you go across the street and work at Private Eyes?” She took his advice, but stripping couldn’t contain her outsized personality for long. Videos of her sharing her South Bronx street wisdom went viral, landing her on reality show ‘Love & Hip Hop: New York’ in 2015. It was only then that Cardi – born Belcalis Almanzar – began taking music seriously, leading some to assume that her rapping was merely a gimmick to bolster her celebrity. They were wrong. Her hit ‘Bodak Yellow’ was the biggest song of last summer, while this April the 25 year-old broke a record previously held by Beyoncé to become the woman with the most songs in the US charts simultaneously. Debut album ‘Invasion of Privacy’ proved that inside that ‘nice body’ was a sharp and savagely funny lyricist. In a culture dominated by the famous-for-being-famous, Cardi B is that rare thing: the reality star who turned out to be more talented than the competition. The Amish Market’s loss is everyone else’s gain.
Originally published in British GQ, August 2018.