First gaining exposure as a reality television star, American rapper Cardi B made a quick ascent to the top of the charts with an initial run of singles that made her the first female rapper in nearly two decades to claim the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100. Spitting raw and aggressive rhymes in the traditions of Lil’ Kim, Nicki Minaj, and Foxy Brown, the former stripper and social media star born Belcalis Almanzar made her television debut on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York in late 2015, joining a cast that also included fellow New York rapper Remy Ma. A year later, she made her musical debut alongside dancehall singer Popcaan on Shaggy’s “Boom Boom” single. The solo single “Cheap Ass Weave” and the mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 soon followed in early 2016. Two more singles, “Foreva” and “Wash Poppin’,” arrived that summer. A second mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2, was released in early 2017.
That same year, Cardi signed with Atlantic Records and scored a hit with the single “Bodak Yellow,” which climbed to the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 in late September, helping her become the first solo female rapper to do so since 1998. Her chart run continued with features on G-Eazy’s “No Limit” and Migos’ “MotorSport,” two additional Top Ten hits that crowned Cardi as the first female rapper to have her first three entries land in the Top Ten of the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. After the release of her single “Bartier Cardi” with 21 Savage, Cardi hopped onto a remix of Bruno Mars’ “Finesse.” The new jack swing revival track soared to number three in the U.S. and topped charts across the globe. With these singles, Cardi became the first woman in history to have five simultaneous Top Ten singles on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Her official debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy, arrived in spring 2018. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & David Jeffries