For more than a year, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B walked on eggshells while rumors of their alleged beef bubbled just below surface. Through shady interviews and sneak disses, the rappers waged a cold war. Then, during New York Fashion Week at Harper’s Bazaar Icon party, photos and video of a physical altercation between Cardi and Nicki's parties circulated the web.
Since then, their public feud has intensified, with memorable Queen Radio rants and viral Instagram posts. But how exactly did we get here? Was it Nicki’s obsession with being the queen of rap? Is Cardi too sensitive? Below we revisit the history of Cardi B and Nicki’s long simmering feud and the events that led us here.
June 2017: Cardi B joins Remy Ma at Summer Jam
There’s debate on when the feud between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B began. While some believe it started as early as March 2017, it’s likely that part of the reason Nicki didn’t welcome the young rapper into the scene with open arms is Cardi’s appearance during Remy Ma’s 2017 performance at Hot 97’s Summer Jam festival.
The performance came in the heat of Nicki’s feud with Remy, as Cardi B joined a procession of other women rappers to perform “U.N.I.T.Y.,” before Remy delivered a performance of her Nicki diss track “ShETHER” complete with a picture of Nicki behind her.
August 2017: Nicki denies subbing Cardi on “No Flags”
In August 2017, Nicki Minaj appeared on London on da Track’s single “No Flags” alongside Cardi’s boo Offset and 21 Savage. On it, she rapped the following verse:
Lil bitch I heard these labels tryna make another me
Everything you getting, lil hoe, is cause of me
I heard I’m stopping bags, word to Shaggy it wasn’t me
These bitches is my sons, but they daddy ain’t bust in me
I’m a white picket fence bitch, you a on the bench bitch
See me in the gym, now these bitches wanna go bench press
I ain’t fucking with you sis, we ain’t with the incest
Yes I am the Queen, I’m still trying to find a princess
People immediately began speculating that Nicki was taking shots at the former Love & Hip Hop star, but she quickly denied those claims.
September 2017: Cardi featured on “No Limit,” denies beef on The Breakfast Club
In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Charlamagne and DJ Envy prodded Cardi B about the alleged beef she had with Nicki. The question followed rumors circulating that Belcalis was dissing Nicki in her feature on G-Eazy’s “No Limit.” “Can you stop with all the subs?/Bitch, I ain’t Jared,” she rapped.
Cardi denied they had any problems saying, "We just conversated man. And that's it." She also brushed off the “No Limit” rumor by explaining, “People don’t understand that I got beef with 10 bitches in the hood, and I still be in the hood.”
September 25, 2017: Cardi B makes history with No. 1 song “Bodak Yellow”
In the fall of 2017, Cardi B broke the first of her many records by becoming the second female rapper with a No. 1 hit song on the Billboard Hot 100, thanks to “Bodak Yellow.” Lauryn Hill accomplished the feat with "Doo Wop (That Thing)" back in 1998.
After the news broke, Nicki Minaj congratulated Cardi on the No. 1 hit, praising her on Twitter.
Congratulations to a fellow NEW YAWKA on a RECORD BREAKING achievement. Bardi, this is the only thing that matters!!! Enjoy it💕💞🎀 @iamcardib— QUEEN (@NICKIMINAJ) September 25, 2017
October 2017: Migos drops “MotorSport” featuring Nicki and Cardi
It was a blessing and a curse when Migos dropped “Motorsport,” a dope track featuring both Nicki and Cardi. Despite both rappers consistently denying their feud, people began speculating they were sneak dissing each other on the same song.
Still, the two women steered clear of the rumors. “I feel like people wouldn’t even be satisfied if me and her was making out on a freaking photo,” Cardi told Complex later that month. "I feel like people just want that drama because it's entertaining."
Nicki also denied the beef in a series of tweets she later deleted. “These are men in our culture who simply refuse to let it go,” she tweeted of the alleged conflict. “They don’t do this to male M.C.’s.”
November 2017: “MotorSport” video comes out
Eventually, the video for “MotorSport” comes out and it’s quickly apparent that Nicki did not shoot on the same day as Migos or Cardi. This stokes more rumors that the two have beef, though Nicki later claims it's because her hairstylist wasn't available the original day of the shoot.
When asked about it in one interview in November, Cardi B dances around the question awkwardly, while also revealing that Nicki’s original song on the track was different.
The next day, Nicki fires off the following tweet allegedly aimed at the rising rapper.
April 5, 2018: Cardi B releases her debut album Invasion of Privacy
The winter goes by quietly, as Cardi and Nicki both seem to be in complete album mode, gearing up for 2018 album releases. Cardi’s comes first. Her debut Invasion of Privacy drops and receives critical praise, landing at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Hours before her album comes out, Beats 1 releases an interview of Cardi where she tells Ebro her beef with Nicki is completely made up. "I just feel like it's really internet made-up," she says. "I really feel like fans and people really want to see that happen because it's really entertaining. To see people beef is entertaining."
A few days later, we learn on Saturday Night Live that Cardi is pregnant, and all seems well for the newly bonafide star.
April 12, 2018: Nicki’s releases two singles and tells Zane Lowe Cardi never showed her “genuine” love
Following Invasion of Privacy, Nicki releases “Chun-Li” and “Barbie Tingz,” the first singles from her album Queen, which she would later announce. To debut the singles, Nicki heads over to Zane Lowe’s show on Beats 1.
During her interview with Zane, Nicki finally addresses what’s been bubbling under the surface all these months. "The only thing that Cardi did that really hurt my feelings was the first interview after 'Motorsport' came out,” Nicki said. “It just really hurt me because the only thing she kept saying was, 'I didn't hear that verse. She changed her verse.'"
"I kind of felt ambushed,” Nicki continued, while getting visibly upset. She also said Quavo "didn't back [her] up" on the story of how the record came about, which prompted the Barbs to swarm the Migos rapper.
Nicki went on to explain that her hairdresser had a scheduling conflict the day of the “MotorSport” shoot, but that Migos and Cardi kept quiet when rumors about the beef escalated. “All of them allowed me to look like I lied and even with the scheduling conflict, she’s using my hairdresser now, so even he can attest to the fact that there was a scheduling conflict,” she said.
“I really fully supported her and up until this recent interview I had never seen her show me genuine love in an interview,” she said, referring to Cardi’s conversation with Ebro. “I can just imagine how many girls wish they could of been on a song with Nicki Minaj. I’m not saying it in a cocky way.”
Coincidentally, Nicki’s original verse on “MotorSport” leaked the same day as her interview, revealing she had referenced Cardi:
I'm with a couple bad bitches that'll rip the party
If Cardi the QB, I'm Nick Lombardi
Pull up in the space coupe, I done linked with Marty
I can actually afford to get a pink Bugatti
The final version replaced Cardi’s name with Quavo, and it’s still unclear if it was meant to be shade or a shout out. Nicki later tweeted that she changed the verse per Atlantic’s request.
May 7, 2018: The Met Gala
Despite Nicki’s Beats 1 interview, photographers capture the two rappers having a cordial moment on the red carpet during the 2018 Met Gala. Once again, things seem fine.
Later in May on the Howard Stern show, Cardi explains that the two rappers talked things out at the Met Gala. “I never was feuding with anybody. There was a misunderstanding. She felt a certain type of way about something and I definitely felt a certain type of way about something. Didn’t want to ever talk about it in public because I felt like we gonna see each other again and we will talk about it," the Bronx native quipped. "It’s always little issues but the thing is, fans are always gonna make it a big thing. I spoke to her about it. It’s just like, see? It was just something that it had to be talked about."
August 10, 2018: Nicki releases ‘Queen’
In August, Nicki Minaj finally releases her album Queen, which includes her opening track "Ganja Burns." Not long after the drop, fans are convinced the slow burn is a diss aimed at Cardi. "Unlike a lot of these hoes whether wack or lit/At least I can say I wrote every rap I spit," she raps, allegedly addressing the idea that Cardi does not write a lot of her lyrics.
Instead of celebrating, Nicki spends the days after Queen's release feuding with multiple people, including DJ Self, who she claims tried to feed her negative gossip about Cardi B. Self later denies it.
“He was just up there dissin the btch thinking that would make me fuk wit him. Lmao. Jokes on you once again dummy. Passed up on ya meal tkt now u get crumbs from her table. Ur a reality tv hoe. Used to be a respected DJ," she wrote in a series of now deleted tweets.
On Aug. 16, Nicki is interviewed by Ebro on Beats 1, and of course he asks about the Cardi beef. “Now, I didn’t know Cardi and I had an issue, but I guess we do since you’re saying it and other people are saying it,” she said, after trying to dismiss the question. “To me, she may have taken an issue with things that I’ve said, but I’m not going to bite my tongue.... You gotta have thick skin. People talk shit about me all the time.... You can’t be expect to be liked and loved and praised all the fuckin’ time. Give me a break.”
August 19, 2018: 'Queen' lands at No. 2
All hell seems to break loose after Queen lands in the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 chart behind Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD. Onika immediately responds to the news by going on a tweetstorm criticizing Travis for selling his album in tour and merch bundles (though she used similar tactics) and calling out Spotify for heavily promoting Drake instead of her. Nicki would go on to give Travis the "Hoe N***a of the Week" award on her Queen Radio show.
September 8, 2018: Cardi attempts to fight Nicki at NYFW
Finally, the culmination of over a year of sneak dissing, shady interviews, and rumored beef comes to a head. News that Cardi B and Nicki got into a physical fight at the Harper’s Bazaar Icons party during NYFW flooded timelines on Sept. 8 with video and photos of the incident. In one, Cardi appears to have a giant lump on her head following the fight.
In some videos, Cardi can be scene taking off her shoe to throw it. In another, she’s being held back while yelling "Play with me bitch...keep fucking playing with me, play with my fucking kid bitch...I'll fuck your ass up,” while Nicki is protected by security.
According to TMZ, the fight broke out after Cardi approached Nicki's table "to address the lies Nicki was spreading.” She was reportedly met with an elbow to the face as security attempted to halt the “I Like It” rapper, and Nicki’s friend Rah Ali apparently also go involved in the scuffle.
Cardi was eventually escorted out of the event, and went on Instagram to address the altercation without directly mentioning Nicki. "I've let a lot of shit slide! I let you sneak diss me, I let you lie on me, I let you attempt to stop my bags, fuck up the way I eat," Cardi wrote. "You've threaten other artists in the industry, told them if they work with me you'll stop fuckin with them!! I let you talk big shit about me!!"
September 10, 2018: Nicki Minaj addresses NFYW fight on Queen Radio
Things were initially quiet on Nicki's end following the NYFW incident. Ms. Minaj waited until her eighth episode of Queen Radio on the following Monday to address the altercation, and when she did, she went in.
Nicki started off the discussion by playing a clip of Cardi B during an interview she did in 2017 with Fader. In the clip, Cardi explains that "nothing is off limits" when she claps back at people, even their children. "I hate when some people come at me like, 'Why you coming at kids for,'" Cardi can be heard saying. "I'm my mother's baby."
The reason Nicki played this clip is pretty obvious. In her Instagram post following their fight, Cardi indirectly claims Nicki talked about her daughter Kulture and her parenting skills. The clip is aimed at highlighting hypocrisy in that accusation, while the Queen rapper also denied ever saying anything about Cardi's daughter. "I would never talk about anyone’s child or anyone’s parenting,” she said. “And it’s so crazy to me that people always need to make Onika the bad guy...I am not a clown. That’s clown shit.”
"You knew that when that footage came out you would look dumb,” Nicki continued, explaining why Cardi and her team would make up the accusation. “I didn’t even feel the need to defend myself that night. ...She has built her career off of sympathy and payola."
Nicki denied ever stopping bags from coming Cardi's way, and actually accused her of more than a few things, including attacking a woman on Instagram whose child died, and calling the child a "monkey." She called out Cardi for previously referring to darker skinned black women as roaches, and alleged that Cardi actually threatened a male rapper to not shoot a video with her.
"The lord gave you a blessing with a bundle of joy and the only thing on your mind was to attack people and to stop their bags," Nicki said, after suggesting Cardi might have postpartum depression. "Who are you angry at sweetheart?"
Nicki also brought on her friend Rah, who was involved in the NYFW brawl. They spent a good amount of time talking about the two women who are reportedly planning to sue Cardi B for allegedly organizing physical attacks on them. In the conversation, the women dragged Offset and blamed him for being the reason Cardi is so pressed, since Cardi reportedly thinks one of the victims slept with her husband.
October 28, 2018: The Leak, Allegedly
Cardi’s sister Hennessey Carolina went on social media to accuse Nicki of leaking Cardi’s phone number to the Barbz, leading to a barrage of hateful messages. “She leaked my sisters [sic] number to her fan pages,” Hennessey wrote.
October 29, 2018: "What Type of Bird Sh*t You Talking About?"
Nicki returned to Queen Radio, and unleashed a long monologue about Cardi, the fight, music, and pretty much everything else.
When it came to the fight, Minaj said that her friend Rah Ali did serious damage to Cardi (as opposed to Cardi’s telling, where security was to blame), and that there was footage to back that up. “Rah beat Cardi's ass really bad,” Nicki said. “Rah beat you so bad that I was mad at Rah.”
Minaj also denied leaking Cardi’s phone number (“What type of bird shit you on, bitch?” she asked incredulously), and said that she had asked Cardi to collaborate, but got turned down. Nicki also claimed that she had been offered—and turned down—Cardi’s Fashion Nova deal, and offered to take a lie detector test to bolster all of her claims.
In more fashion news, Wilhelmina CEO Bill Wackerman took Nicki’s side, disputing Cardi’s claim that Nicki was Diesel’s second choice (behind her) to be the face of their Fashion Week campaign.
October 29, 2018: Cardi Fires Back
In a series of 10 (!) Instagram videos, Cardi laid out her rebuttal. A list of key takeaways:
- If she was getting beaten so badly by Rah Ali, why hasn’t any video of that surfaced yet? As Cardi memorably puts it, there was “so much footages” of the party and the fight.
- Cardi cops to demanding that Nicki change her verse on “Motorsport,” saying that she refused to shoot the video unless the now-infamous “Nick Lombardi” line was changed.
- Cardi claims that Nicki turned down a chance to be on “No Limit,” and then turned around and got upset at her management after it became a hit.
- Cardi attacked payola claims, pointing out that her single “Money,” even before it was delivered to radio, was charting on iTunes—the same company that hosts Queen Radio.
- Cardi claimed that Nicki was responsible for the phone number leak. It happened one hour after their fight, Cardi said. Adding to the circumstantial evidence, Cardi said that neither her new number nor her sister’s number had been leaked, and that no one in Nicki’s camp had either one. “How come everybody that y’all have issues with, and y’all got the numbers in y’all camp, they numbers got leaked?” Cardi asked.
- Cardi claims that Nicki endorses her fans’ “sick-ass fucking behavior” by liking Twitter posts that advocate harassing Minaj’s enemies.
- Cardi denied telling 21 Savage not to shoot a video for “No Flag.” Instead, she says, the song just wasn’t doing well.
All of this back-and-forth ended later that night in a truce...for now.