Behind the Name: Cardi B

Rapper, fashion icon, and businesswoman Cardi B is known for her sharp tongue, telling it like it is, and her bodacious songs and music videos. She’s earned the respect from fans and music listeners alike because she’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind. She’s charitable, eye-catching, and boundary-pushing.

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In other words, she’s a standout artist.

But beyond her songs and her outfits, some fans may wonder: what is the origin of her name? Let’s find out the story behind Cardi B.

Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar Cephus

Cardi B was born Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar Cephus on October 11, 1992. Today, though, she’s known by her stage name almost exclusively.

After gaining some attention with her social media platforms as a skilled rapper and magnet for the eyes, Cardi B appeared on the VH1 reality television show, Love & Hip-Hop: New York, where she showcased sides of herself that would soon make her a global sensation.

Cardi released her debut mixtapes, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 in 2016 and Vol. 2 the next year in 2017. In 2018, she released her debut studio LP, Invasion of Privacy, and soon the world would become her oyster. The album, which debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, made Cardi the first and only woman to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album as a solo artist and only the second female rap album nominated for Album of the Year.

Invasion of Privacy gave fans two No. 1 hit singles on the U.S. Billboard hot 100, including “Bodak Yellow,” which earned her diamond status. With the song, Cardi became only the second female rapper to top the Hot 100 with a solo song and the first to earn diamond status with a solo song. Her track “I Like It” also hit No. 1 on the hot 100. Cardi earned her third No. 1 as a guest featured artist on the song “Girls Like You” with Maroon 5.

To date, Cardi is the only solo female rapper to achieve multiple diamond song certifications.

The Name: Cardi B

Born in Washington Heights, Manhattan, Cardi is the daughter of her Dominican father and Trinidadian mother. She is of African and Spanish descent. She was raised in South Bronx and spent much of her time as a kid with her paternal grandmother in Washington Heights.

The rapper developed her stage name Cardi B from the rum brand Bacardi. Before she became Cardi B, she was nicknamed Bacardi. Her younger sister, who was born in 1995, is named Hennessy Carolina.

In 2018, Cardi won the right to be named Cardi B after being awarded the trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The process had taken time but she won out in the end.

Becoming Cardi B

As a 16-year-old, the aspiring artist joined the gang the Bloods—something today she doesn’t recommend. Later, she also attended Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology.

As a teenager, she also worked at an Amish deli in Tribeca, New York. But she was fired from the job and soon became a dancer at a strip club across the street. She has said that becoming a stripper was good for her, offering, “It really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping, I went back to school.” At the time, she says, she was in an abusive relationship and was kicked out of her mother’s house. Stripping helped her earn money to escape her dire living situation. While she was stripping, she told her mother she was babysitting to make money.

Cardi later attended Borough of Manhattan Community College before dropping out. In 2013, she began to earn the attention of fans via social media posts on the short-lived platform Vine and Instagram.

Now she’s a powerhouse. And everyone knows her name.

More Accolades

Since her debut studio LP in 2018, Cardi has released more hit singles, including “WAP” in 2020, “Up” in 2021 and “Hot Shit” in 2022. The first two songs hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. Cardi now holds the record for most No. 1 singles (five) on the Billboard Hot 100 for a female rapper. She also has the most songs that have garnered at least a billion streams on Spotify for a female rapper.

She’s won a Grammy Award, eight Billboard Music Awards, earned six Guinness World Records, six American Music Awards, 14 BET Hip Hop Awards and two ASCAP Songwriter of the Year awards. In 2020, Billboard honored her as Woman of the Year. She has also become the creative director of Playboy.

Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage

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