Once Billboard announced Cardi B as 2020’s Woman of the Year, her haters piled on demanding to know why an artist who had just one new song of her own this past year deserved to receive the title. For Cardi B, this was business as usual. Every win she scores seems to be met by as many fans rooting for her as those rooting for her downfall.
Of course, Cardi B took to Instagram, posting a video with a message that was aimed directly at her detractors: “For you cry babies like, ‘What? She only got one song!’ Yeah, I got that song, b*tch.” She then went on to list each reason why she is the woman of the year — proving, for the umpteenth time, that nobody knows Cardi B better than Cardi B herself.
“WAP,” which featured Megan Thee Stallion, is an ode to female pleasure. It first made headlines for its beyond-explicit lyrics, which became a multiplatinum success, spending four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and setting a record for the most streams for a song in a single week (93 million, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data). With its eye-popping, cameo-filled video and a feature from one of hip-hop’s biggest new stars, “WAP” checked the usual boxes needed for it to be a hit in 2020.
However, the song’s success had a deeper significance, too: It was a clever Trojan horse for the myriad ways Cardi influences the culture with every move she makes.
After recruiting Megan for the track and giving up-and-coming artists like Mulatto and Rubi Rose spotlight in the video, Cardi makes sure to uplift other women in hip-hop at a time when the notion that more than one female can’t succeed at a time still somehow persists. She also entered her name in the storied lineage of women and raunch in hip-hop — drawing renewed attention to the fact that female rappers still face a double standard when it comes to owning their sexuality. Just two weeks after the song’s release, a few male artists even voiced their support for “WAP.” Pop singer-songwriter Charlie Puth even called it “an important record,” adding, “It’s about time something like this came.”
Since the song’s release, it has become an inherently feminist statement — and in turn, as Cardi also noted in her Instagram clap-back video, had “Republicans crying on Fox News.” In August, conservative analysts Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, and DeAnna Lorraine picked on Cardi for weeks, deeming “WAP” crass and inappropriate. The conservatives likely didn’t expect her to clap back, but Cardi B is no stranger to politics. As Cardi put it succinctly in her Instagram video: “I represent America. I wanted a change. And that’s what I did.”
This year was a landmark one for Cardi, but she has been this bold from the start of her music career when skeptics dismissed her as a former stripper from a reality show.
Julie Greenwald, chairman/COO of Atlantic Records, says that “‘Cardi’s'” entire evolution has been driven by a singular, unswerving vision she has for herself — who she wants to be, what she wants to accomplish, and where she wants to be at every point in her career.” When Cardi’s longtime A&R executive Brooklyn Johnny brought her to the label almost four years ago, “she was already a superstar-in-waiting,” Greenwald continues. “There was no question that her talent, her charisma, and her determination would make her a musical and cultural icon.”
Earlier this year, Cardi parted ways with her management at Quality Control, but that didn’t stop her from being an entrepreneur in 2020. In August, she secured a deal with OnlyFans where she posted behind the scenes footage from the “WAP” video shoot, among other content available to any fan for $4.99. For an artist who launched her career on social media, it was further evidence of a guiding Cardi B principle: Know your worth, and don’t give everything away for free.
“I want to show people that you can do positive things, but you can also be yourself,” she says. “I like justice. I like to work and be creative. But I also like popping my pussy.”
During the Billboard interview, Cardi was asked a series of questions that related to the 2020 Election, her daughter Kulture, being an Activist, and more.
First, the interviewer wanted to know what Election day was like in Cardi B’s household. At one point during the election, when Biden was trailing behind Trump, she posted a video of herself smoking three cigarettes at once. Cardi B replied, “I was having fun with my kid, but then I kept looking on Instagram and was getting jittery. [Before the election], I just felt like Biden had this in the bag. Then Election Day came, and I’m seeing so many states are just red, period!” She added, “we always talking sh*t about this country, even though we’re from this country. At the end of the day, we need to understand we are a big example to other countries. I’m seeing France celebrate Biden’s win. I seen Haiti celebrate the win of Biden.” She said, “When my parents came to this country, they just thought this was the land of dreams and sh*t. Everybody around the world thinks the same way, even though we don’t see it because we live here. It’s important to set a good example, show unity and have somebody that represents us the right way.”
Next, the interviewer wanted to know how Cardi felt when Biden’s projected win was finally announced while her fans sang “WAP” outside of the white house. Cardi Replied, “I just feel like it was such a big victory for me and for Megan. I’m so used to listening to raunchy female rap music since I was a little girl — Trina, Khia, Lil’ Kim, Jacki-O, Foxy Brown.” She said, “WAP,” to me, was just a regular raunchy female rap song, but it caused so much controversy.” She added “a lot of Republicans that got blue checks on Twitter and millions of followers, like Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Tomi Lahren were talking so much crap about “WAP,” so it was just a victory for me seeing people celebrating Biden’s win with my and Megan’s song. Power of the p*ssy, ya heard?!”
Cardi went on to discuss why she felt it was important to bring her daughter Kulture along with her to participate in the Show Me the Signs campaign, which paid tribute to Breonna Taylor and other Black women killed by police. She replied, “I want her to grow up knowing how the world really is. My daughter came out of my p*ssy rich. She lives a different lifestyle than I lived. This girl gets in a pool every single day; I can’t swim because I barely went to the pool. There was only one community pool where I’m from. I want her to know that just because you have money, that doesn’t mean you’re super-privileged.” She added, “Even me with her dad [rapper Offset], we have had really bad experiences with police, and we’re rich and famous. I want her to know that you’re not going to be an exception. I want her to have compassion. I don’t want her to ever have the mentality of, ‘This doesn’t apply to me.’”
Cardi was then asked if she considered herself to be an activist. She replied, “I don’t know if I’m an activist. I’m a Libra — we are the justice sign. I like fairness, and I have compassion toward everybody. This is the type of person that I’ve always been. When I was a stripper, I posted the same shit that I post now. I was doing marches in Harlem. But I don’t want people to think, “Oh, she’s an activist.”
Last year, she talked about how she struggled with being called a role model, and now she says, “I know I’m a role model because I know there’s a lot of women like me. At the end of the day, I know I’m a bitch that made it through because I work my ass off, not because luck fell on my thighs.” She added, “I want to show people that you can do positive things, but you can also be yourself. I’m a very sexual person. I love sex, and I like to rap about it. I like to do it. I admire my husband’s penis. I love p*ssy, and I love my body, and I want to be able to express that. I’m just a naughty girl, and I’m not hurting anybody because I love my p*ssy and want to rap about it.”
The rapper ended the interview with what made her happy this year. Even though this year has been a crazy year due to the coronavirus, she said, “I haven’t laughed like I have in 2020. My daughter is so funny, and I’m with her every single day. That’s what brings me happiness.” she added, “there was a point where I felt so much pressure to put out music that I couldn’t really focus much. It’s like when you get home at the end of the day and you’re like, “Oh, sh*t. I got homework to do.” It felt like I had incomplete homework. When I put out “WAP,” it was a big relief. I’m not gonna front, I’ve been really happy. I gained weight — that’s how happy I am.”
This interview has really shown a different side of Cardi B; clearly, she isn’t just a stripper from the Bronx. But she is a rapper, mother, activist, and role model. What more could we expect from such a person with such a big and bright personality?