How Cardi B Really Became Famous

Rapper, producer, social media star, and reality TV personality Cardi B has been breaking records for years with her infectious songs. Today, Cardi B's net worth has skyrocketed to $40 million (via Celebrity Net Worth). And songs on her YouTube channel have now gained over 6 billion streams total. But before she had millions of fans and a thriving music career, here's where Cardi B started from.

Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, first worked at an Amish supermarket as a teenager. But after she got fired from the job, she needed a new gig.  According to People, Cardi B began working as a stripper, which she kept secret for years. The job enabled her to take classes at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, as Celebrity Net Worth reports. At first Cardi B was embarrassed by the profession and worried about what her family would think about her stripping. But she saved up $20,000 in just three years and managed to escape an abusive relationship at age 19 through her savings.

Cardi's secret job

She later addressed her past on her 2016 mixtape, "Gangsta B***h Music Vol. 1 " on a track titled, "Intro Skit" featuring The Breakfast Club, according to Genius. She said, "I've been writing rhymes and I've been into music ever since I was in high school. But, you know, when you young, you have these dreams of becoming this big star or being an artist. But your dreams start getting crushed by priorities and bills, you know? After I got kicked out of my house when I was 18, it's like I ain't have 200 dollars to invest in a studio session, like, I had to pay bills, I had to pay my rent." 

Cardi ended up dropping out of school and stopped stripping at age 23 (via BBC). And soon after, she began making paid appearances at nightclubs and had gained tens of millions of followers on social media platforms. 

In 2015, Cardi B got one of her first big breaks in the music world. As Billboard reports, she starred in her first music video, "Cheap A** Weave." And she joined the cast of "Love & Hip Hop: New York," in 2015, where her Bronx accent and bold personality made her stand out from the crowd. Per NME, she became a fan favorite with quips like, "I'm just a regular degular shmegular girl from the Bronx."

Music and reality TV

Around the same time, according to In Touch Weekly, Cardi B began working for a radio station based in New York City, Power 105.1. She and her coworker DJ Self were reportedly in a relationship, which took a dramatic turn when DJ Self brought his girlfriend, Yorma, to a party where Cardi B grabbed her hair. That resulted in one of Cardi B's first viral phrases, which she later reworked and put into her song "Foreva": "​​You know a girl have beef with me, she gon' have beef with me forever."

Cardi has a history of throwing her shoe at people who annoy her — she later threw a shoe at Asia, another "Love & Hip Hop" star, who was flirting with Swift, Cardi's boyfriend at the time (via BBC). She said, "​​Now I'm a get petty and now when I see her, I'ma smack her on sight. You know me. I'm Petty LaBelle."

As Billboard reports, Cardi dropped a mixtape, "Gangsta B***h Music, Vol. 1," in 2016. Her success continued to explode — she signed on to work with Atlantic Records between 2016 and 2017, saying they gave her the "best offer." The same year, her song "Bodak Yellow," from "Gangsta B***h Music Vol. 2" began charting on Billboard's Hot 100 list (via Insider). By the beginning of 2017, she officially left "Love & Hip Hop."

"I wanna thank my fans"

​​Cardi B started dating rapper Offset. They actually married in a secret, small ceremony before he publicly proposed to her in October 2017 (via People). They welcomed a daughter, Kulture, in 2018.

Cardi had another huge hit when she sang "Finesse" with Bruno Mars in 2018. Cardi won a Grammy for the best rap album of the year for "Invasion of Privacy," which also went triple-platinum, per Celebrity Net Worth. And, according to People, she was named as one of TIME's 100 most influential people. She also continued her history of throwing footwear, when she hurled her shoe at rapper Nicki Minaj during a fight at a New York Fashion Week party.

In 2019, Cardi released the track, "Money," and won six Billboard Music Awards. She also starred in a movie centered on strippers, called "Hustlers" (via IMDb). 

More recently, in 2020, she and Megan Thee Stallion released "WAP," which debuted in the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100 (via People). And in 2021, Cardi gave birth to a son, whose name she and Offset have not yet announced publicly.

When she won the Best New Artist Award at the iHeart Radio Awards in 2018, Cardi said, "I wanna thank my fans, Bardi gang, because even when I'm wrong, they be like, 'she's still right'" (via YouTube). Clearly, Cardi B hasn't forgotten where she came from — and the devoted fans who helped her gain her celebrity status.