Female rapper and Love and Hip Hop star, Cardi B had a very sudden rise to fame. She grew up in the Bronx and went to Borough of Manhattan Community College after high school at 18. She worked at a small deli before she suddenly began stripping at the young age of 19. Though this was a major adjustment for her life at this age, what really changed her life was her social media.
While dancing, Cardi B was known to the people on the internet for her funny videos. She went viral on multiple occasions with videos that had girls quoting “a hoe neva gets cold” and speaking on scammer culture. She eventually moved up and got a spot on Love and Hip Hop NY as her bubbly self who wasn’t looking for drama, but knew how to act if some came her way. Cardi then moved on to working on her rap career and secured a few cameos on the popular BET drama Being Mary Jane.
Cardi B is a hustler. She’s a mover, shaker, doer, influencer, and a walking brand all in one. She’s a woman about her business and she plays whatever role she chooses very well. She single handedly put herself on a platform to provide for her family. She can recognize an opportunity when it looks at her and she takes it. She opened doors for herself when no one would open the door for her. All this, and she’s not even 25 yet. So, why doesn’t she get the respect she deserves?
Most critics base their disapproval of her music or her personality on her past as a stripper. Which says a major statement on the misogyny and sexism that still runs rampant in Hip-Hop and society. To comment that she’s trash or her music is bad because she was a stripper… that’s misogyny. Her past job has nothing to do with her talent. She’s never hidden who she was from the public. To say you wouldn’t listen to her music because you “can’t relate to her lyrics” is most commonly used as a well disguised misogynist statement. Broke boys can’t relate to poppin’ bottles, sleeping with super models, and spending racks, but that doesn’t stop them from screaming, “F**k B****es, Get Money” in the club.
There’s a deeper disrespect for sex workers and women who uplift or empower sexuality in themselves and other women that should be discussed. Women are constantly measured by their sexuality and the more of it they show, the more criticism they face for it. People tend to forget the separation of job and person when it comes to sex work. For example, when anyone jumps into a career in this industry such as a porn star or stripper, many stop saying the person’s name first and they become their career first. If they attempt to try any career after that, then they become the “former stripper” or “alleged porn star” and their past haunts them after they’ve quit and moved passed it.
However, Cardi B is not the only woman to ever make this jump. There are others who have come before her such as Eve, Ka$hdoll, Trina, and others as far as female rappers.
It’s hard enough to be a woman and gain respect in the industry. It is an even bigger feat to do so when people continue to make assumptions based on your past and what you did to put food on the table. Women have to endure twice the criticism of their male counterparts in most industries, but especially in hip-hop for two reasons: 1. she’s a woman so she’s perceived as soft. This meaning, you must constantly have to prove your abilities. Cardi B says in an interview The Fader Magazine, she experienced troubles with the producers of Love and Hip Hop first because they wouldn’t allow her to play a different role. They attempted to force her into playing the “struggling stripper” role even though she was selling out venues doing appearances and had amassed a huge social media following. Secondly, she’s a woman so she’ll immediately be sexualized. She’s a sexual being, yes, and she’s made it clear. Though, it’s still hard to do business when people doubt you because they can’t see past what you used to do in order to see the success you’ve earned now.
You may not like Cardi B for her morals. Her personality may not mesh perfectly with yours. But Cardi B at least deserves to be respected for her hustle. She went from dancing to doing interviews with Elle Magazine, The Fader, Vogue, etc. She became an actress and an influencer of a generation. She still supports her family and those who grew with her. She did all of this while the fragile egos of men said she wouldn’t amount to much. She continues to prove her critics wrong and continues to laugh. She, and others like her, deserve more respect. It’s time they get it.