Cardi shot to the top of Twitter trends Wednesday after she announced her split from husband and fellow rapper Offset on Instagram.
Celebrity couples who eventual break up is almost a given these days, unless they are in the rarefied air of a few. (You have the power to destroy us Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, so please keep hanging in there.)
Cardi has earned her right to grieve the end of her year-long marriage in private, should she so choose.
But given Offset’s success as a member of the rap group Migos and Cardi’s rapid rise as a solo artist, interest is understandable.
“There’s been a lot of good and bad in Cardi B’s personal life this year,” Jason Lipshutz, editorial director at Billboard told CNN. “I don’t think it diminishes from the fact she’s had one of the biggest breakthrough years in hip-hop history and in recent popular music memory.”
As the first female MC to top the Billboard 100 in almost 20 years, (Lauryn Hill last did it in 1998 with “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”) and the first woman to chart their first three entries in the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs’ Top 10 simultaneously, it would seem like Cardi has worked hard enough to earn a pass on the mountain of speculation that is sure to come in the wake of her marriage.
An unlikely career
This is a woman who has already beaten the odds on so many levels.
Belcalis Almanzar (Cardi’s birth name) took the Cinderella story of a stripper who hits the big time and flipped it on its head.
She defied the Hollywood trope of the stripper waiting for a knight in shining armor to take her off the pole. Cardi did it herself, through shear determination.
She first came to fame on the VH1 reality series “Love & Hip Hop: New York.”
The future star was loud, combative and in your face about everything — from her exotic dancing to her then imprisoned boyfriend, identified only as “Tommy” on the show.
In other words, authentically Cardi B.
She was far from polished, which is one of the things viewers loved — and continue to love — about her.
In one memorable scene from Season 6 of “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” tensions between Cardi and the girlfriend of a fellow cast member boiled over and resulted in Cardi uttering one of the show’s most memorable lines.
“A girl have beef with me, she gonna have beef with me,” Cardi said with a pause and a dramatic turn. “Forever.”
She was outspoken about her desire to make it in the music industry.
But in the world of reality TV, where its “stars” are often permanently relegated to the genre, no one actually expected her to succeed.
The surprise was on us.
Cardi not only made it, she did so by capitalizing on her authenticity.
“I don’t dance now, I make money moves,” she rapped in her debut hit “Bodak Yellow.”
She both embraces feminism and rejects some of what it stands for.
Cardi is a woman who owns her sexuality and has taken charge of her career and image. Yet she has also feuded publicly with fellow rap star Nicki Minaj in one of hip hop’s biggest beefs since the East Coast was rivaling the West.
“Being a feminist is real simple; it’s that a woman can do things the same as a man,” Cardi said in a February interview with Billboard.
“Anything a man can do, I can do. I can finesse, I can hustle,” she said. “We have the same freedom. I was top of the charts. I’m a woman and I did that. I do feel equal to a man.”
That, apparently, includes pretty unrepentant about her actions when she believes she is in the right.
After going after Minaj (Cardi says because she was talking smack about Cardi’s mothering skills) during a high profile New York Fashion Week party, the “Be Careful” rapper strolled out of the event, escorted by authorities, seemingly nonplussed by the goose egg on her forehead she received as she charged at Minaj.
When she turned herself in to police to face charges stemming from her alleged involvement in a bar fight back in August, she walked out of the precinct like it was a catwalk.
A difficult love story
Her relationship with Offset played out in a big way from the start.
They responded to rumors of his infidelity and criticism that she was yet another “baby mama” (he has three other children from past relationships) by being playful and loving on social media, daring the haters to condemn their love.
The couple and their romance made the cover of Rolling Stone as they awaited the birth of their daughter, Kulture.
“We really love each other. She’s real,” Offset told the publication. “I wanted real. I also wanted successful.”
Yet as public as they have been in some ways, they also kept Cardi’s pregnancy private for months and led the world to believe they had gotten engaged weeks after they had actually married quietly in their Atlanta home.
Their split comes a few months after Cardi talked about challenges in their marriage.
“When I got married with my dude, we still had a lot of doubts, because our relationship is not like everybody’s,” she told W. “He was always traveling, and I was always traveling. We’re artists. So I used to see him, like, twice a week, and, you know, he’s known for having different women, and I’m known for, like, not taking s**t from guys. But we really loved each other, and we was scared to lose each other.”
The New York Times published a piece just last week in which Offset spoke lovingly of his now estranged wife, calling their relationship “the best thing that’s happened to me personally.”
“I have a wife and a child — that changed my whole everything,” he said. “I was a young hothead, but now I understand the value of life.”
Fans are sure to start combing through the lyrics of her aptly named “Invasion of Privacy” album in an attempt to pinpoint what caused the split.
But Cardi already told us in her Instagram video.
“It’s just like, I guess we grew out of love,” she said, after stating, “It’s nobody’s fault.”
Since she also stressed they remain friends and business partners, we will probably get plenty of music addressing what happened anyway.
If Beyoncé and Jay-Z could make an album out of their marital woes, why can’t the first couple of hip hop?
And if it comes, please believe it will be as raw and real as Cardi B.