When Cardi B became the first female solo artiste to win the Best Rap Album Grammy, she may have felt on top of the world. However, after she had made her acceptance speech and left the stage, an unanticipated incident occurred at the ceremony. And the unnerving event could very well have brought the hip-hop star right back down to Earth.
Following her historic win at the 2019 Grammys, Cardi has cemented her status as one of the biggest rappers around. However, the star comes from humble beginnings. Born Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar to parents of Dominican and Afro-Trinidadian heritage, she grew up in the Highbridge neighborhood of the South Bronx in New York City.
And Almánzar earned the moniker she now raps under while she was still at high school. Her sister, you see, is called Hennessy – the name of a famous brand of cognac – which led the siblings’ peers to refer to Almánzar as “Bacardi” in reference to the rum company. Over time, then, that name metamorphosed into “Cardi B.”
While Cardi was still a teenager, however, she joined notorious street gang the Bloods – or so she has since claimed on Twitter. Yet while the rapper has admitted to professing her allegiance to the controversial group, she has also warned others against joining any similar outfits.
Regardless of any gang affiliations, though, the young Cardi pressed ahead with her education. Specifically, she attended the Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology – a vocational educational facility that’s located at the Bronx’s Herbert H. Lehman High School. And while there, she may very well have honed her skills as a performer.
But Cardi’s path to success would not be straightforward. As a teen, she initially held a position at a Lower Manhattan supermarket; after losing that job, however, she turned to stripping. The star later revealed that she had been drawn to the profession as a means of both escaping an abusive relationship and lifting herself out of poverty.
In fact, Cardi has explained that, overall, her time in strip clubs has had a beneficial effect on her life. In 2017 she told Vlad TV, “[Stripping] really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping, I went back to school.” Even so, the best was yet to come for the aspiring star.
And Cardi grew her fame, at first, through social media, earning a substantial following through the videos that she posted on Instagram and Vine. A further step up came in 2015, when she began appearing in Love & Hip Hop: New York – a VH1 show following a group of New Yorkers with links to the rap scene.
Cardi soon became a big draw on the show, too, despite her having only joined the cast in Love & Hip Hop: New York’s sixth season. There, viewers followed both the rapper’s rise to stardom and her rocky relationship with her jailed fiancé. But this wasn’t to last, as in December 2016 Cardi announced that she was leaving the series in order to focus on her music.
By that point, Cardi had launched her first mixtape, Gangsta B**** Music, Vol. 1, and this was duly followed by a second volume in 2017. Further success came beckoning for the rapper, too, after she signed with Atlantic Records and received two nominations at the 2017 BET Awards.
But Cardi made her breakthrough proper in June 2017, when she released her debut single, “Bodak Yellow.” That track reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making her the first ever person of Dominican descent to achieve such a feat. It was also the first occasion on which a female rapper had topped the chart since 1998 – when Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” had debuted at number one.
But that wasn’t all. Later, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified “Bodak Yellow” as a septuple platinum-selling single. The track also earned Cardi nominations in the Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance categories at the 2018 Grammy Awards, and it bagged her the Single of the Year honor at the BET Awards in 2017.
Nor did Cardi’s accomplishments end there. Thanks to her subsequent collaborations on the tracks “MotorSport” and “No Limit,” she became the first woman rapper to get her first three singles into the top ten of both the Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Then, in April 2018 Cardi dropped her first studio album, Invasion of Privacy. The record received substantial critical acclaim, too, with Variety dubbing the collection “one of the most powerful debuts of this millennium.” And further success came Cardi’s way when Invasion of Privacy debuted at number one in the U.S. She also became the first ever female performer to have 13 entries in a single week’s Hot 100 chart.
What’s more, Cardi became the first woman to have every track from her album certified at least gold by the RIAA. Then, in July 2018 her fourth single from the record, “I Like It,” became a Hot 100 number one, making her the first female hip-hop star to have more than one chart-topper.
It’s fair to say, then, that 2018 was a big year for Cardi – and that extended to her personal life, too. That April, you see, she announced that she was expecting a baby with fellow rapper Offset, whom she’d secretly married in 2017. The star later gave birth to their daughter, Kulture, in July of that year. And although Cardi and Offset split before the end of 2018, the pair nevertheless appeared together at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in February 2019.
Cardi herself was nominated in five categories at the Grammys, including Record of the Year, Best Rap Album and Album of the Year. By this point, however, the rapper may have been used to attending – and winning at – awards shows.
Prior to the Grammys, you see, Cardi had already bagged three MTV Video Awards at the 2018 ceremony. She had also matched Drake for the greatest number of American Music Awards (AMA) nominations that year – and ultimately emerged triumphant in three categories.
Perhaps, then, Cardi’s awards success would continue into 2019. The Grammys itself, meanwhile, was hosted by Alicia Keys. And the event was billed by some as “the Year of the Woman” – thanks in part to the number of female artists nominated.
Fittingly, then, the ceremony commenced with a potent joint statement from Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Lady Gaga and former First Lady Michelle Obama. That was followed by performances from Lopez, Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves and Brandie Carlile. And Cardi herself also took to the stage for a rendition of her track “Money.”
But the rapper got off to a disappointing start awards-wise, as her single “I Like It” lost out on the Record Of The Year gong to Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover. Glover bagged the prize for his track “This Is America,” which was the inaugural hip-hop song to earn the award. However, despite the significance of the win, Glover was not actually there at the ceremony.
The next category that Cardi had a stake in, meanwhile, was Album Of The Year. However, once again she lost out on the prize – this time to country star Kacey Musgraves. And upon accepting the award for Golden Hour, Musgraves paid tribute to her fellow nominees’ “brilliant works of art.”
After that, the winner of the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category was announced. Cardi was up for a gong here, too, for track “Girls Like You” – a collaboration with Maroon 5. But this time around, she lost to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, whose song “Shallow” from the A Star Is Born soundtrack ended up being recognized.
But Cardi still had time to earn her first Grammy, as she was also in the running for Best Rap Performance. Ultimately, though, the category ended in a tie between Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak, who each took home a Grammy for renditions of their tracks “King’s Dead” and “Bubblin,” respectively. Unfortunately, Cardi’s “Be Careful” missed out.
Nevertheless, there was still a chance for the hip-hop star in the Best Rap Album category. Yet the competition was fierce, as her fellow nominees included Travis Scott, Pusha T, Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller. Miller had been nominated for the award posthumously, following his death in September 2018.
Yet Cardi’s album Invasion of Privacy ultimately reigned supreme. And as a result, she became the first ever female solo performer to win the Best Rap Album Grammy. Given the gravity of the occasion, then, it was perhaps no surprise that she struggled to keep her composure as she accepted the award.
After making her way onto the stage, Cardi turned to her estranged husband Offset – who had accompanied her to the front – and told him, “Babe, I can’t breathe.” As she attempted to pull herself together, she added, “Oh my goodness!” The crowd were behind the star, though, and they began to applaud her in encouragement.
Finally, Cardi managed to explain that her nerves had gotten the better of her. And after apologizing, she said, “I just wanna say thank you to everybody that was involved.” She then proceeded to reel off a list of names of people who’d supported her – including her infant daughter, Kulture, whom she explained had given her the impetus to finish her album.
Cardi elaborated, “I’m not just saying thank you because she’s my daughter. It’s because, you know, when I found out I was pregnant, my album was not complete. I had like three songs that I was for sure having. And then, you know – you know how it was – we had to get this album done so I could shoot these videos while I’m still not showing.”
After that, Cardi went on to recognize her fellow artists in the Best Rap Album category. She also listed a number of people who’d collaborated on her album, including Offset. “He was like, ‘Oh, you gonna do this album, girl. We gonna have this baby, and we’re gonna make this album,’” she revealed.
And in the wake of her Grammy win, Cardi gained a lot of media attention. However, not all of it was sparked by the fact that she’d taken home the Best Rap Album gong. At least one story, for instance, revolved around an incident in which the rapper was involved following her acceptance speech.
The occurrence in question was caught on camera, with the footage showing a number of people swarming around a person who has collapsed on the floor. And as more individuals rush towards the scene, a concerned Cardi and Offset can be seen walking by before the fallen woman is finally pulled to her feet.
But what exactly had happened? Well, according to reports, the lady in the video – who was thought to be a seat-filler – had fainted to the side of the stage. An eyewitness told Entertainment Tonight, “People were freaking out. They were trying to get [the woman] up quickly [before the show returned from commercial break].”
It would appear, though, that production staff were successful in their efforts to conceal the incident from the viewing public. Even so, it apparently wasn’t the only worrying occurrence that happened behind the scenes at the award ceremony.
As the show drew to a close, you see, a member of the public who had been watching from the pit reportedly collapsed and had to be dragged onto the stage. However, a Grammy representative later reassured attendees that the fan had simply been dehydrated and had eventually recovered.
As they say, then, all’s well that ends well. However, Cardi herself wasn’t completely content with the way in which her Grammy win had been received online. And as a result, she took to Instagram with an expletive-laden rant aimed at her critics.
Cardi later deleted the video and even briefly deactivated her Instagram account. Before the clip was taken down, though, fans saw the rapper fume, “I’ve been taking a lot of s**t today. I’m seeing a lot of bulls**t today, and I saw a lot of s**t last night. And I’m sick of this s**t.”
Cardi added, “I work hard for my motherf***ing album. I remember last year when I didn’t win for ‘Bodak Yellow.’ And everybody was like, ‘Cardi got snubbed.’ Now this year’s a f***ing problem?” In the video, the star also pointed out how hard she’d worked despite having been pregnant at the time.
“I locked myself in the studio for three months,” Cardi went on to claim. “[I] didn’t go to sleep in my bed sometimes for four days straight while pregnant! While everybody was harassing me like, ‘You’re not gonna do it, we know you pregnant, your career’s over.’”
After having deleted her angry video, though, Cardi decided to focus on her fans rather than her haters. And in another post, she said, “Thank you, everyone that supported me and listened. I’m thankful and grateful, and again thank you to all the artists that gave me a feature.”