The World Of Work & Money, According To Cardi B

Illustration by Richard Chance.
Name a celebrity who epitomizes the millennial era more than Cardi B — I'll wait.
At only 25, Cardi (a.k.a. Bardi, a.k.a. Bacardi) has the cheerful irreverence, culture-straddling perspective, and single-minded ambition that has defined a generation of young adults. She raps and sings in two languages, has strong feelings about tax transparency, and is open about her politics. She's not afraid to laugh at herself now and then, but she also wants to be taken seriously.
By now, her story is nearly ubiquitous: Born Belcalis Almanzar in the Bronx, NY, Cardi went to college and worked as a grocery store cashier until she started stripping at a club in the city, a gig she took to finance her way out of a bad relationship, but grew to love. After a meme-generating turn on Love & Hip Hop, she parlayed her fame into a bona fide music career. Cardi's debut album, Invasion of Privacy, was certified gold on the same day it was released — an achievement she celebrated a day later on Saturday Night Live, where she also announced her pregnancy.
Critics write her off as unintelligent, "trashy," and a flash-in-the-pan phenom (snipes about her race and class as much as they are her age), but Cardi obviously works hard for her success. She's a compelling example of a young woman who knows her mere presence in certain places is transgressive, but that hasn't stopped her from speaking out. So, this Equal Pay Day, we're taking a look at some of Bartier Cardi's best musings on work and money. All shot, no chaser, Cardi's blunt opinions on sex, money, and women complicate the conversation around these taboo topics in ways that can be mouth-dropping, hilarious, and inspiring.
Women still earn 80 cents to a white man’s dollar. And yet, one-third of Americans aren’t even aware of the wage gap. Let’s keep the conversation going. Head here to learn more about Equal Pay Day.
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Feeling hungry? Grab a Snickers. Need a confidence boost? Listen to "Bodak Yellow." Play that song on the wrong day, and you might just change your life. (Only to emerge from your Bardi fugue state and realize rage quitting your job maybe wasn't a great idea...)

Cardi's unapologetically braggadocios about becoming successful, but she's also very real about what it means to have money when you didn't before. In her case, that entails paying for expensive dental work (which Bardi plays for laughs) and financially taking care of her family — a responsibility a lot of upwardly-mobile Black and brown people assume.
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Many people would happily coast after landing magazine covers, Fashion Week invites, and becoming the first solo female rapper to top the singles charts in nearly 20 years. (Hey, "Bodak".) But in the April 2018 issue of Cosmopolitan, Cardi said she lives for the hustle more than the reward.

When asked about the people she most admires and tries to emulate, the rapper named her mom and her cousin ("who commutes hours each day to and from work, raises a child alone, and pays all her own bills") instead of name-dropping another celebrity. In a world that tends to laud the labor of rich, it's nice to see Cardi give working moms their due.
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One of the age-old struggles artists face is whether they should play for the crowd or go off the cuff with something original — especially in the music industry, where pop songs tend to sound the same. (Just ask Quincy Jones...)

Cardi was honest about succumbing to these pressures in an interview with The Fader, saying "sometimes it kinda crushes" her to follow the trends, but she's still willing to change her sound for what will sell.

That might sound like selling out to a true artiste, but for the rest of us who have to work for a living, making compromises is completely relatable.
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You haven't witnessed joy until you've seen the look on Cardi's face when she gets free swag. Instead of pretending like "money ain't a thing" IRL. "I don't give a fuck how much money I make, I budget everything," she said in one 'gram, showing off a pair of gifted Uggs.

The queen of high-low flossing, Cardi brags just as much about watches that cost thousands of dollars as she does about $60 jeans and $10 shades from Fashion Nova — and her ability to track every expense.
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In 2017, Cardi shared her number-one tip to making it in NYC: networking. "I have gone to every radio station — and in New York, these radio stations take hip-hop very seriously," she said. "I just go repeatedly, repeatedly: 'Y'all want an interview? Fried chicken? When's your next event? I'll host it.'"

Following up doesn't mean sucking up or harassing people (though she's not above a "Knock, knock! Who's there? My mixtape!" check-in) — but it does require diligence and doing things other people might not.

Making club appearances is sometimes considered "vulgar," she said, but it's arguably what helped catapult her into the spotlight. "These are the people you need to entice into your music," she explained.
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Cardi isn't the first celebrity to be ambivalent about being labeled a feminist.

In her opinion, inclusive feminism doesn't omit strippers, sexuality, and people who don't speak the Queen's English. In an interview with New York, she explained that she was inclined to ditch the label if it meant being a woman who attended elite schools, talks a certain way, and always dresses modestly. That's definitely one way to be a feminist, but it isn't the only one.
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In an Instagram post in early 2018, Cardi took a moment to thank people who sent positive energy, rather than flames, her way. "You guys really uplift me when I feel my lowest. It's something that not even money can do for you," she wrote.

Just like your affirmation-writing BFF, Cardi explained that she was taking time to think through her goals for the next 12 months and writing them down, even ones that didn't include music. Taking over the world requires some planning, especially when more than 21 million people are following along.
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Cardi told The Fader in 2017 that enjoying the fruits of her labor is still hard when her family and friends aren't enjoying the same success. Even though her relatives have assured her they don't need to be on her payroll, the rapper admits the sudden differences between her life and theirs sometimes keeps her awake at night.

For many people who didn't grow up with a lot of money, success isn't only measured by individual accomplishments, no matter how much work went into achieving them.
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There's a quote from spiritual author and lecturer Marianne Williamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." The quote hits on imposter syndrome, fear of failure, and fear of success: What happens if you go after your dreams and are let down, or find that you're unprepared for the next level?

Cardi echoed that sentiment in the 2017 Fader interview, telling the magazine, "I was always scared to follow my dreams because if I follow my dreams and I fail, I can't dream about it anymore."

Being stuck in self-doubt is hard; working past those doubts is even harder.
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Cardi shared this sentiment in a November 2017 Instagram post. Her feed is usually a mix of sketch comedy, Fashion Nova cataloging, and 30-second Super Soul-style soundbites, but this one was free of her usual bombast.

The brief affirmation was accompanied by a candid party shot and got more than a million likes, so it seems like she's not the only person who refuses to be written off.

To say it in her own words: "My little 15 minutes lasting long as hell."