Cardi B is working hard and telling everyone. It’s a sneakily radical move.
Cardi B is up for two awards at this weekend’s Grammys — Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance — but in a way, it doesn’t matter whether she wins the awards. As the woman herself pointed out on The Tonight Show, she’s already won.
Cardi’s meteoric rise has been well-documented: Over the course of six years, she went from struggling college student to grocery store cashier to stripper to hostess to Instagram star to reality star to the first female solo rapper to have a No. 1 song since Lauryn Hill in 1998. Now, at 25, she’s a Grammy-nominated superstar, and she’s just getting started.
Cardi hasn’t been shy about how she got where she is: She works hard. “A lot of people think I’m just a dumbass, like, hoe-ass bitch because I can’t talk English properly and it’s just, like, yo if I was dumb, I would not be in the position that I’m in,” she told Fader in 2016. “It’s just like damn everybody wanna be famous but, like, people don’t realize being famous don’t make you like rich. Like, yo you really gotta work to get rich.”
Cardi has never hidden how much she works, and that fact is fundamental to her appeal. While much of pop revolves around a fantasy of effortless, flaw-free perfection, Cardi is upfront about how much labor it requires to be Cardi B: the plastic surgery, the physical discomfort of the elaborate outfits, the careful study of her genre, the songs that are engineered to follow what sells and become hits, the years of nose-to-the-grindstone hustling.