American rapper, Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, known professionally as Cardi B, is celebrating as she turns 29 year old today.
Born and raised in New York City, she became an Internet celebrity by achieving popularity on Vine and Instagram.
From 2015 to 2017, she appeared as a regular cast member on the VH1 reality television series Love & Hip Hop: New York, which depicted her pursuit of her music aspirations. She released two mixtapes—Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 (2016) and Vol. 2 (2017), before signing with Atlantic Records in February 2017.
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar was born in Washington Heights, Manhattan, on October 11, 1992. The daughter of a Dominican father and Afro-Trinidadian mother, she was raised in the Highbridge neighborhood of the South Bronx, and spent much time at her paternal grandmother’s home in Washington Heights, which she credits with giving her “such a thick accent.”
Almánzar developed the stage name “Cardi B” as a derivation of Bacardi, a rum brand that was formerly her nickname. She has a little sister, Hennesy Carolina born in 1995. She has said she was a gang member with the Bloods in her youth, since the age of 16, and has stated that she would not encourage joining a gang. She attended Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology, a vocational high school on the Herbert H. Lehman High School campus.
During her teens, Cardi B was employed at a deli in Tribeca. She was fired, and her manager suggested she apply to be a stripper at the strip club across the street. Cardi B has said that becoming a stripper was positive for her life in many ways: “It really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping I went back to school.”
In Billboard’s “You Should Know” series, Cardi B said the first albums she ever purchased were by American entertainers Missy Elliott and Tweet, respectively. She has credited Puerto Rican rapper Ivy Queen and Jamaican dancehall artist Spice as influences, as well as Lady Gaga, Lil’ Kim, Madonna, and Selena. She has mentioned Chicago drill music as an important influence.
She also credits growing up in the South Bronx and real life experiences as influences for her songwriting; “I wouldn’t be able to rap about the things that I rap about now [if I hadn’t grown up there].”
The Grammy-winning rapper has achieved five #1 hits on the Hot 100, set various records and has been named one of the most influential female rappers of all time by Forbes. In 2020, she was honored as Billboard’s Woman Of The Year.
In honor of Cardi B’s 29th birthday, tell us your favorite song by the star!