Cardi B set the internet on fire when she announced on Instagram earlier this week (March 26) that her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, would be dropping next Friday (April 6). Watching her evolve from a reality star on Love & Hip-Hop to a global phenomenon over the course of the past three years has been nothing short of amazing. Nobody squeezed more out of 2017 than the 25-year-old.
It wasn’t always Platinum plaques alongside multiple Billboard Hot 100 smashes for the ex-stripper, as Cardi built up a dedicated following in the NYC area after creating a buzz with her brash Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 mixtape in 2016. She followed the project up with Vol. 2 at the top of 2017.
Let’s take a look back at Cardi’s enduring journey in music leading up to her highly anticipated album, ranging from her first video for “Cheap Ass Weave,” to “Bodak Yellow” powering into the Hot 100 and eventually landing at No. 1, to becoming the first woman to notch five top 10 hits on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart — and even to picking up a bae in the process, as her fiance Offset has blossomed into a star in his own right.
Joins Shaggy and Popcaan for “Boom Boom (Remix)” (Nov. 2015)
Despite being a rookie in 2015, Cardi B flashed signs of brilliance when she was recruited for the Reggae-tinged remix to Shaggy and Popcaan’s “Boom Boom.” The Bronx firecracker doused the track with indelible bars such as, “You better empty your pockets, I’m talking heavy deposits/ Cardi Bartier got it, so you gon’ have to pay homage.”
Drops first music video for “Cheap Ass Weave” (Dec. 2015)
Cardi takes aim at those whose weave collection just isn’t up to par. The raw visual was clearly done without much of a budget, as it seems to be shot in just one salon location. The MC made it work, as she tests out some varying flows while eviscerating women with sorry beauty standards. Bardi references Drake and Future‘s smash “Jumpman” collab on the second verse: “I got shit jumping like What a Time…/ Like Jumpman, Jumpman/ That weave you got should be a crime/ You got no luck, man/ And how you n—-s even let them in the crib with that.”
Unleashes Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 (March 2016)
The regular girl from the Bronx shared her first official mixtape while still starring in Love & Hip-Hop. GBMV1 gave fans a peek into her rapping abilities, which began to garner the attention of tastemakers throughout the NYC area. “Foreva” gained the most notoriety off of the 13-track project, showcasing possible mainstream appeal over SwiftOnDemand’s production. “Your man can cross you and I make sure that you pay the price/ So don’t be lacking when you coming home from work at night,” she aggressively rhymes. “You run your mouth I’m poppin out now it’s on sight, You gon’ be just like my pussy, hella tight.” Cardi was later sued in 2017 over the project’s artwork.
Returns with Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2 at top of 2017 (Jan. 2017)
By this point, Belcalis had already faxed in her resignation to Love & Hip-Hop, which she left just a month prior, to the surprise of many. Cardi dropped her followup mixtape on Jan. 22, kicking off what would be an unfathomable run the rest of the year. After releasing “Bronx Season” as the project’s lone single, “Lick” would be the track from the set that really popped. Offset blessed the tune’s remix that February, marking their first collaboration.
Signs deal with Atlantic Records (Feb. 2017)
There is no clear date of when the 25-year-old exactly inked her deal with Atlantic, but first reports began to trickle out in the final days of Feb. 2017. For the first time, Cardi publicly confirmed her relationship with Atlantic Records in her summer ’17 (Jun. 22) cover story with The Fader. “I had a lot of deals on the table but like they gave me the best offer, the one that I don’t have to owe them much, and they just gave me a lot of money so I took it,” she explained. “They gave the right number, so I chose them. It was significantly more than other [deals].”
“Bodak Yellow” enters the Billboard Hot 100 (June 2017)
This is where Cardi’s meteoric rise really takes off, as “Bodak Yellow” marked her first official single since signing to a major label. Just one week after the track’s release, the J. White Did It-produced anthem made its way into the Billboard Hot 100 (June 22). “Bodak Yellow” debuted at No. 85 and the rest is history. Almanzar’s chorus was eerily reminiscent of Kodak Black’s flow on “No Flocking.” She later admitted to Billboard that she wrote bars for the track while listening to Kodak on an airplane.
“Bodak Yellow” becomes the first No. 1 record by a solo female rap artist since 1998 (Sept. 2017)
Bardi made history to close out the summer, as “Bodak Yellow” rose all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (Sept. 25). She did her part as well, performing the record wherever there was an opportunity, including halftime shows, festivals and club appearances. Cardi B became the first solo female rap artist to top the Hot 100 since Lauryn Hill achieved the elusive feat back in 1998 with “Doo Wop (That Thing).” This further cemented her legacy in hip-hop history, but also let everyone know she was just getting going.
“Bodak Yellow” becomes the longest-running No. 1 record by a solo woman rapper (Oct. 2017)
After notching a third week atop the Billboard Hot 100 (Oct. 9), “Bodak Yellow” surpassed Lauryn Hill’s two-week stint in 1998 at No. 1 with “Doo Wop,” making Cardi’s hit enjoy the longest tenure as a chart-topper by an unassisted female MC. “Bodak Yellow” was dethroned a week later by Post Malone and 21 Savage‘s “Rockstar.”
Takes home three awards at the 2017 BET Hip-Hop Awards (Oct. 2017)
Cardi brought her movement to the BET Hip-Hop Awards, where she gave an energetic performance and collected some hardware during the Tuesday night broadcast (Oct. 10). The “Bartier Cardi” artist claimed victory in categories such as best new hip-hop artist, single of the year, and hustler of the year.
Notches two Grammy nominations (Nov. 2017)
The charismatic artist saw her name alongside the best music had to offer when the 2018 Grammy nominations were unveiled (Nov. 28). The breakout star was nominated for both best rap performance and best rap song, but ended up getting beat out by Kendrick Lamar‘s “HUMBLE.” for the pair of honors. Memorably, she was nominated as a songwriter under the secret alias of Washpoppin.
Joins The Beatles & Ashanti with first three Hot 100 Hits in the top 10 simultaneously (Jan. 2018)
The fashion icon became the first rapper and just the third act to have their first three records in the Hot 100 end up in the top 10 at the same time. Cardi joined legendary company in The Beatles and Ashanti as the only three musicians to achieve the exclusive accomplishment in music history (Jan. 2). She had “Bodak Yellow,” assists on G-Eazy‘s “No Limit” and the Migos’ “Motorsport” scaling the chart’s top tier to continue her momentum into the new year, putting any one-hit wonder talk to rest.
Becomes the first woman with five simultaneous top 10 hits on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (Jan. 2018)
Since the chart began keeping track of artists in 1958, Drake and Kendrick Lamar had been the only artists to launch five songs into the top 10 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at the same time. Cardi B added her name to yet another short list in rap, becoming the first woman to attain the incredible accolade. She also broke Beyonce‘s record for female artists in the process, with the Queen having topped out at four on the chart in 2016.
“Finesse (Remix)” gives Cardi B her second No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (Jan. 2018)
The rumored collaboration hit the market to open the new year on Jan. 3, with a coinciding visual inspired by one of the pop artist’s favorite ’90s television shows, In Living Color. Mars took to Instagram to explain how his friendship with Cardi was born: “I met Cardi B at 3 am after my show in LA backstage where we recorded her verse for ‘Finesse.’ She walked in the room and she was everything I’d hope she’d be. Never change Cardi! Don’t let this crazy music business change who you are. You [possess] something that can’t be taught. You’re a true star. Thank you for putting your energy and love all over this record and video.”
The certified smash topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in just its second week out (Jan. 20) and currently sits at No. 4 on the Hot 100.
Inks deal with Quality Control Management (March 2018)
On Tuesday (March 27), Variety broke the news that Cardi had signed a deal with Quality Control’s management division. The QC roster plays host to the Migos, which of course, includes her fiance, Offset. Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “Pee” Thomas will look to keep her career on the right path and offer their expertise on newfound business opportunities.