"I don't talk about it much, because I wouldn't want a young person to think it's okay to join it," Cardi B says of her gang affiliation.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Cardi B has taken over the world of popular music, as much for her infectiously joyous personality as for her unique lyrical flow. The 25-year-old rapper sat down for a meandering interview with GQ that covered everything from her gang affiliations to how she built her body with basement ass injections.
She opened up about her insecurities over her English and accent, as well as her passion for politics and current events. Just as she's proven in television interviews and appearances everywhere, Cardi B's mind is moving fast and it's going everywhere all at once.
The sheer power of that personality makes it feel like Cardi B was going to be famous doing something, but that something could have just as easily come through politics or as an Instagram "influencer." In fact, music was apparently a random choice selected from a tennis bracelet of success, which is crazy to think about.
People spend a lifetime pursuing a career in music, while Cardi B just selects it randomly and emerges almost immediately as the first rapper with her first three Billboard Hot 100 entries simultaneously in the Top 10 -- and that was before she released her debut album, "Invasion of Privacy," this past Friday.
Below, we sifted through the chaos to find the six most surprising reveals in Cardi B's GQ interview. But first, a quick recap of how she became such a global sensation in little more than a year.
UNLIKELY RISE TO MUSIC SUPERSTAR
As everyone knows, Cardi B first gained the spotlight as a stripper in New York. But she gained even more fame when she began just being Cardi on her Instagram page, flashing copious amounts of cleavage and spouting off about whatever is on her mind. Thanks to her admittedly "broken English" and accent, many people have underestimated Cardi's intelligence, but she knows what she's talking about. It's just so fast, you might have a hard time keeping up.
VH1 caught wind of her growing popularity and cast her on "Love & Hip Hop" in 2015, even though Cardi had never expressed any interest in music, nor had she featured any online. She was just popular and opinionated and that was enough to make her the show's breakout star for two years. Finally, and apparently just because, Cardi took a stab at music by signing with Atlantic and releasing "Bodak Yellow" last summer, but it would take another type of "Keeping Up" to take her global.
Blac Chyna drew Cardi B into her feud with Rob Kardashian, using "Bodak Yellow" as the soundtrack to an angry Instagram video in July 2017. The fight is irrelevant, but the 100,000 simultaneous streams of the video put Cardi B's song on the map and she's been rising ever since.
PAINFUL ASS INJECTIONS
In an industry as image driven as music, it's not unfair to say that Cardi's substantial curves have helped her career, and she's certainly not shy in talking about how she got them or flaunting them. She revealed her latest curve -- a baby bump -- during a live performance on "Saturday Night Live."
Unfiltered and unashamed, Cardi has talked openly about almost every aspect of her life, including her breast implants and the painful ass injections she got in a basement in Queens. This all happened back while she was still stripping, and the added curves certainly added to her bottom line, pun intended. For Cardi, it's all about making them "money moves," so $800 for an asset enhancement felt like a steal.
"They don't numb your ass with anything," she said. "It was the craziest pain ever. I felt like I was gonna pass out. I felt a little dizzy. And it leaks for, like, five days." Though she had planned a return visit for a touch-up, Cardi said, "By the time I was gonna go get it, the lady got locked up 'cause she's supposedly killed somebody. Well ... somebody died on her table."
WHY SHE DOESN'T TALK BLOODS AFFILIATION
"When I was 16 years old, I used to hang out with a lot of Bloods," Cardi admitted. "And they'd say, 'Yo, you really get it poppin'. You should come home. You should turn Blood.' And I did. Yes, I did. And something that -- it's not like, oh, you leave. You don't leave."
When she was 19, Cardi began stripping and that's when the money started rolling in. "You could ask any gang member: Being in a gang don't make you not one dollar. And I know for a fact every gang member, he asking himself, 'Why did I turn this?'"
Now that she's made it big, Cardi doesn't like to talk about this part of her past for a couple of reasons. "Sometimes you gotta do certain things to get higher. You're doing all of that and you not making money off of it. That's why I don't talk about it much. Because I wouldn't want a young person, a young girl, to think it's okay to join it." But also, "I never really wanted to talk about that, because I always wanted a music deal. I always want to keep my endorsements."
SHY AND ANXIOUS AROUND FAMOUS PEOPLE
Another surprising revelation from the interview is that Cardi B actually gets overwhelmed and crippled with shyness around famous people. This despite the fact that she looks like the most confident person in any room. The interviewer got to witness this in person when Cardi freaked out over just thinking she'd seen Taylor Swift walk in.
When asked if she would have talked to her, Cardi said, "Nah. I'm too nervous. I'm too shy. When I met Beyoncé, people be like, 'How that felt? I bet you was mad happy.' It's like, 'Actually, I wanted to shit on myself.' It was a very scary thing. All she was doing was like, 'Hi. I love your music.' And I was like--" At this point, she just emitted a guttural groan.
Part of her faux confidence in interviews and the like might be because there's an element of performance art in them. According to the interview, there was no sign of the verbal tics and trills that Cardi has become know for ("Okurrrr!"), so she might be able to hide her anxiety by bringing an act to those moments.
ENGLISH AND ACCENT INSECURITIES
While everyone seems to agree that they enjoy watching Cardi B talk ... about anything, really ... she's a lot less confident in herself. Growing up in a bilingual household, Cardi sometimes isn't sure if she's using words correctly, even when writing.
"I don't got the best English in the world, so sometimes I really got to ask somebody, 'Does this make sense? Would this make sense?'" she said. "Because I will probably use the words ... that they don't even supposed to go there."
And it's not just the words themselves, but how she says them. Cardi revealed that she agonizes over how to pronounce certain words when recording. "That's my biggest problem, that takes me a long time in the booth. I be trying to pronounce words properly and without an accent," she said. "Each and every song from my album, I most likely did it over five times, because I'm really insecure about my accent when it comes to music. In person, I don't care."
STRUGGLING WITH TRUST
While her relationship with Offset has played out very publicly in the media, Cardi was cautious about even getting into it with him for that very reason. Trust is hard for her to come by, and she struggled to trust in his fidelity considering his lifestyle.
"For a long time, we was in love with each other but we didn't really trust in each other," she said. "It was like a competition of who's gonna hit each other up first. I don't want to hit him up first; he will hit me up first. People used to put things in my head: 'He gonna leave you. He be f-cking with mad bitches.' People used to put things in his head: 'Cardi, she's a dog. Don't trust her.' We never really trusted each other because I always feel like he could get any girl he wants. What makes me think he's gonna want me? I think he felt the same way. N---as want to be with me, and bitches wanna be with him."
It took the proposal for them both to finally step back, open up and decide to trust one another. "It was just too much playing games," she said of their relationship before that. "He would look for me; sometimes he would take a jet to me. And it was just like, 'Let's stop playing. We really love each other. I'm scared to lose you, and you scared to lose me.'"
POLITICAL JUNKIE IN THE HOUSE
Tying back into that notion of people underestimating Cardi's intelligence because of her accent and grasp of the English language, the rapper revealed a passion and love for political science, and FDR in particular. "He helped us get over the Depression, all while he was in a wheelchair. Like, this man was suffering from polio at the time of his presidency, and yet all he was worried about was trying to make America great -- make America great again for real. He's the real 'Make America Great Again.'"
Of politics and the government, Cardi admitted, "I'm obsessed to know how the system works." That obsession keeps her and her Twitter feed very actively involved with current political issues as well, like the debate over gun reform. She admitted to being a bit of a news junkie.
"When it came to the school shooting, that's when I was like, 'Okay, this n---a really think that everything is a joke," she said of Donald Trump. "Have you ever shot a gun before? It's very scary and loud. It's traumatizing to shoot somebody. On top of that, what makes you think that a kid wouldn't come behind a teacher, shoot her from the back, then go in her desk and take the gun? And now you got two guns."
She also takes issue with people dismissing celebrities who are politically and socially vocal. "People think because you're famous, you doing it for clout," she said. "But you concerned about it because you are a citizen of America; you are a citizen of the world. If I want to get cool points, I could take a picture with a thong and my ass and y'all gonna give me the same amount of likes. I'm gonna trend even bigger."