Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar was born October 11, 1992 and she is known professionally as Cardi B.
She is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, and television personality. Born and raised in The Bronx, New York City, she became an Internet celebrity after several of her posts and videos went viral 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 to follow her music aspirations, and released two mixtapes—Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.
She is the daughter of a Dominican father and Trinidadian/Spaniard 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 a thick accent. Almánzar developed the stage name “Cardi B” as a derivation of Bacardi, a rum brand that was formerly her nickname. Cardi B has said she was a gang member of the Bloods in her youth, since the age of 16. However, she has stated ever since that she would not encourage joining a gang. She went on to attend Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology, a vocational high school on the Herbert H. Lehman High School campus.
During her teenage years, Cardi B was employed at an Amish Market in Tribeca. She then began stripping at the age of 19. Upon being fired from the supermarket, her former manager recommended she work at a strip club. Cardi B has said that becoming a stripper was positive for her life in many ways. She has explained that she became a stripper in order to escape poverty and domestic violence, having been in an abusive relationship at the time, and that stripping was her only way to earn enough money to escape her dire situation and get an education. She attended Borough of Manhattan Community College before eventually dropping out. While stripping, Cardi B lied to her mother by telling her she was making money babysitting.
Cardi B said the first albums she ever purchased were by American entertainers Missy Elliott and Tweet. She has credited Puerto Rican rapper Ivy Queen and Jamaican dance hall artist Spice as influences as well. Cardi B is inspired by Madonna, to whom she has referred as her idol. Cardi B has also indicated that other influences include Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Lil’ Kim.
When asked about the initial direction for her music, Cardi B said in an interview that when she first started rapping, she liked certain songs from Khia and Trina, and they were fighting songs, crediting the two female rappers for her aggressive rap style.