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Cardi B Opens Up To Zendaya In The New Issue Of CR Fashion Book

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PORTRAITS SHOT BY PETRA COLLINS

Cardi B has proven herself a hitmaker, but she still wants the world to know and respect where she came from. Born in the Bronx with strong Caribbean roots, she is not afraid to speak her mind and act on it—precisely the qualities that have made her an international rap superstar with a string of record-breaking singles. But even after the fame and fortune, she is still that same Cardi, only now she has new bling, new beef, and new subject matter for her verses and hooks. Here, the rapper talks with Zendaya about fame, her blackness, and wanting to prove people wrong.

Petra Collins Petra Collins Petra Collins Petra Collins

Zendaya: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Cardi B: Honest. Energetic. I’m also kind of a loner. I like to be in silence, think, and make myself laugh.

Z: I’m definitely a loner. I never want to leave the house. I’m glad that I have a job that forces me to.

CB: I hear you.

Z: I’m from Oakland and that is a huge part of my character. How did growing up in the Bronx influence your music and personality?

CB: It influenced the way I see things. In the Bronx, there’s different cultures, a lot of Caribbeans. I didn’t grow up having much, so I didn’t have much to brag about. All I knew was violence, gang relations, and how to hustle. That’s what I mostly rapped about. Now that I’m seeing different things, traveling places, and buying new things, I can rap about all that.

Z: What’s the process of music for you?

CB: I see other artists, how they work, and sometimes I be feeling like, Wow, I’m really slow. But it works for me. I cannot do music in my bedroom with a beat. I have to be in the studio and when I am, I be in there for like, 15 hours. I get that one beat and I write and I write and I write. You know I have Caribbean parents, so my vocabulary is a little bit different. So I always ask people, Hey, do this make sense? Can you say this word? Is this even a word? [Laughs]

Z: That’s funny.

CB: I’m a rapper, but I’m not like a freestyler. My fiancé raps off the top of his head. For me to do a verse, I have to sit down, focus, and take my time. And if I’m not feeling the beat, I just can’t do it.

Z: How has your life changed since you became famous?

CB: Well, one positive thing is that, my family, whatever they want, they get. Everything that I want to buy, I can get. I don’t have to worry so much about my future. One negative thing is that, even though I’m happy, I feel like I was a little bit happier two or three years ago when I had less money. I had less people who had opinions about my life. I felt like my life was mine. Now I feel like I don’t even own my life. I feel like the world owns me. It’s crazy because I never been the type of person to ever really care about anything. I never had to censor myself. Now I feel like everybody is so sensitive, and it’s sad. Some people have written me off or tried to make me feel like I’m something I’m not or wanted to tell me how to manage my relationship.

Z: A huge part of fame is that you open your life to the opinions of others.

CB: I hate it.

Z: Career-wise, what’s your next big goal?

CB: I really want to accomplish more records, more Billboard hits. I might want to get into acting or designing clothes, but my real goal is to have beautiful kids, a beautiful mansion, and do business that makes me money until the day I die. Then be able pass it on to my children.

Z: What is your dream day off?

CB: I like to do absolutely nothing. I don’t want nobody to invite me nowhere. I don’t want to do my fucking makeup. I don’t want to put tight clothes on. I don’t want to wear heels. I don’t want to do shit. But if I can be with my dude and have a little nasty time, I love that too.

Z: Who are your role models?

CB: I can’t really say that there’s another artist who I admire because I don’t really know them, I don’t see their struggles or their work ethic, like really see it behind the scenes. My role models are the people around me who I see working. Like for example, my mom would come home from work and get cooking right away. Me, if I work, after that I can’t do no other shit. I’m not trying to cook. I’m not trying to do anything. I also admire my homegirl, right? She used to strip. As soon as she would come home at five or six in the morning, she would finish counting singles, then get her son ready for school, and boom, take him to school. Then she would go to sleep at 9:00 a.m., wake up around noon, and pick her up soon again. Things like that, I really admire.

Z: Is there anything that people don’t ever ask you that you want somebody to ask you?

CB: One thing that always bothers me is that people know so little about my culture. We are Caribbean people. And a lot of people be attacking me because they feel like I don’t be saying that I’m black. Some people want to decide if you’re black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don’t understand Caribbean people or our culture. I feel like people need to understand or get a passport and travel. I don’t got to tell you that I’m black. I expect you to know it. When my father taught me about Caribbean countries, he told me that these Europeans took over our lands. That’s why we all speak different languages. I expect people to understand that just because we’re not African American, we are still black. It’s still in our culture. Just like everybody else, we came over here the same fucking way. I hate when people try to take my roots from me. Because we know that there’s African roots inside of us. I really just want people to understand that the color that I have and features that I have are not from two white people fucking.

Z: Okay last question: what gives you the greatest satisfaction?

CB: I love proving people wrong. I know that’s bad, but it just gives me this crazy
satisfaction. People used to say I was only going to be a reality star—and boom! Or that my songs would never make it to radio—and then boom! I used to work in a very ratchet club named Divas in the Bronx. When I was 21, I was so in love with this guy. He used to tell me, “You’re going to be 40 years old still working at Divas.” It felt so good when he came back around and told me how proud he is. In my inner soul, I was just so happy, like, Yeah what’s good?!

PHOTOGRAPHER PETRA COLLINS
FASHION RON HARTLEBEN
CREATIVE DIRECTION THE STYLE COUNCIL PARIS
MAKEUP ERIKA LA’ PEARL
HAIR WARD
HAIR (PERSONAL FOR CARDI B) TY MICHELE
MANICURE MEI IKAWAJIRI

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The Politics of Being Cardi B

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She isn’t perfect, nor does she claim to be, but the rapper is learning, growing, and proving with her sophomore album that she and her powerful voice are here to stay.

BY MARJON CARLOS AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY STEVEN KLEIN AND STYLED BY KOLLIN CARTER

It feels like a lifetime ago, given the breakneck pace of the news and the steady erosion of our political system, but it has only been a year since rap lightning rod Cardi B sat down with Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders in a Detroit nail salon in the summer of 2019. The polymathic force—former stripper/onetime reality star/raptress/ wife/mother/hellion—converted the salon into a backdrop for an earnest conversation around the most urgent issues facing Americans today: job creation, police brutality, a livable minimum wage, and workers’ rights. The scene was full of obvious asymmetry—Cardi’s glamour-puss persona played irreverently off Sanders’s mensch—but in many ways, it was just two New Yorkers talking about the issues of the day, with all the camaraderie of the politicking found at any Dominican bodega that dots Cardi’s native South Bronx neighborhood.

This wasn’t the first time that Cardi, born Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, had spoken out about politics; in fact, the voluble rapper, who experienced meteoric fame after the release of 2017’s chart-topping “Bodak Yellow,” can’t keep herself from doing so. Whether imploring fellow celebrities and influencers in unprompted Instagram videos to use their platforms to speak out against President Donald Trump’s draconian rule, or expressing her infatuation with the New Deal in a 2018 GQ interview, Cardi never minces words. She is a lifelong history buff—a gangsta with a thing for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Still, her decision to sit down with the senator immediately courted controversy, turning the comments section of her Instagram into a battleground of dissent. Nearly every time she speaks on such topics, a rush of online naysayers balk at the self-described “regular degular schmegular girl from the Bronx” making a foray into politics: “You need to stick to rapping, sis, you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about,” one commenter wrote. Fox News panned Cardi’s and Sanders’s meeting of the minds, slut-shaming her for her former work as a stripper while ignoring the fact that the current resident of the White House was once embroiled in an alleged affair with a porn star. But as Cardi declared in the 2019 song “Clout,” “Public opinions from private accounts / You not a check, then you gotta bounce,” referring to the verified check marks on social media platforms. Which is to say, Cardi will not be quieted by bots, avatars, critics, or trolls.


Nearly a year later, in early July, I’m on the phone with the rapper, who is in L.A. prepping the first video of her long-awaited sophomore album. The topics covered in her prescient heart-to-heart with Sanders are now playing out in real time. COVID-19 has sent the U.S. economy into a recession and triggered mass unemployment (“A lot of my family caught COVID. A lot of people around me lost their jobs,” Cardi says). The Republican-controlled Senate’s response has left millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet with a mere onetime $1,200 stimulus check. All while unarmed Black men and women are being killed by the police in the streets and in their homes with impunity. Oh, and the presidential election has been whittled down to just two candidates, with “Uncle Bernie,” Cardi’s nickname for Sanders, having conceded to former vice president Joe Biden in April.
(more…)

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Cardi B Breaks Houston Rodeo Attendance Record, Cites Selena Quintanilla as Inspiration

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Cardi B recently broke the attendance a record at the Houston Rodeo, and she’s thanking the late Selena Quintanilla for giving her courage to make it happen.

Wearing a pink and blue sequence cowgirl outfit, the “Please Me” rapper performed at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at NRG Stadium Friday (March 1), breaking an attendance record once held by Garth Brooks. Cardi’s performance drew a record 75,580 fans — only three more concert-goers than Brooks’ previous record.

On Saturday, Cardi posted a video on Instagram from backstage at the rodeo, where she credited the success of her performance to the late Queen of Tejano.

I was so nervous to perform in front of 70,000-plus people, but when i saw this picture, like, out of all the outfits that she wore, for me to see this picture with this outfit — this was the inspiration for ‘Please Me’ — I knew I was going to be alright,” the rapper said, pointing to a photo of Quintanilla hanging on the wall.

Cardi concluded the IG clip by shouting out her love Quintanilla before singing and dancing along to the singer’s hit song “Como La Flor.

Cardi’s record-setting Houston Rodeo performance coincided with the release of “Please Me” music video with Bruno Mars, where she and the crooner meet up at an after-hours taco spot in Los Angeles.

In the “Please Me” video, Cardi is wearing a revealing black and purple outfit resembling the one Quintanilla donned during her iconic performance at the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1993.

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Cardi B Explains the Midterm Election Results and the Best Jeans for Your Ass

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“I could buy designer, but this Fashion Nova fit.”

Cardi B is telling me about her new collaboration with Fashion Nova, but the phrase she uses most often during our interview is: “Get away from the baby!” It’s hard to explain exactly how that relates to the rapper’s new collection with the urban fast-fashion brand, but here goes. Cardi is working hard for us. “The audience, the general public, they don’t hush, they don’t sleep, they always want to see something,” she says. So Cardi doesn’t sleep either. She’s a new mom, she’s released or appeared on two song-of-next-summer worthy singles in the last month, and, as of midnight on November 15, she’s releasing a collection of clothing for “bitches with ass like me,” says Cardi.

So while we talk, Cardi is multitasking. She’s watching her nieces, nephews, and four-month-old baby Kulture Kiari Cephus. It’s 3 p.m. and she explains in between bites that she hasn’t eaten since 7. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I’m so fucking hungry.” Even over the phone, I can see the woman who’s charmed the pants off late-night hosts, has ascended to superstardom in the span of a couple years, and who Frank Ocean recently called a “symbol of women all around.” She makes a point to apologize and explains the disturbances as her “germy” nieces and nephews try to get close to her baby before barreling back into the answer she was giving to a question.

Cardi sees her debut Fashion Nova collection as an opportunity to represent women of color in fashion. “I feel like a lot a high-end clothing companies, they don’t cater to women like me,” she says. It’s also expected to sell out in minutes. But that’s not the only reason for Cardi to celebrate. She’s also celebrating that the Democrats took back the house in last week’s midterm elections. “Now we taking over, baby, you already know what’s good!

So much is good when you talk to Cardi B. Below, you’ll find out why budgeting for taxes is the key to staying rich, come to terms with lackadaisical Obama-era Democratic voters, and find the perfect jean jacket, leather jacket, snakeskin jacket, and suiting that’s Belcalis Almanzar-approved.

Cardi B For Fashion Nova Cardi B For Fashion Nova

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