Since then, her star has risen exponentially, with the album debuting at the top of the Billboard 200 and winning Best Rap Album at the 2019 Grammys, marking the first time a solo female rapper landed the accolade.
But it’s been a tough road for the Bronx native. In a new interview with XXL, she discussed the money and business side of music in depth and how she has come to handle these matters as a Black woman, particularly when dealing with millions of dollars.
She provided an example of how a company might offer her $2 million when they’re actually making $50 or $100 million off her. “I just feel like if you want to keep hiring me, I figured that you’re making a lot of money out of me. I just feel like that little two million, that little three million, I mean, sometimes even a little five million, ’cause I get five [million], $10 million deals. I just feel like, you gotta be making triple,” Cardi said, explaining how she makes sure she gets what she deserves.
“The reason why my money keeps going bigger and bigger because they’re looking at the numbers that I used to bring other companies and they see, ‘Oh, she bring this amount of money. I’m gonna give her some more.’ But it’s like, what is the number? ’Cause I want to be part of that big number.”
She also credited Offset as her soundboard when making financial decisions: “My husband, he’s really fucking smart with numbers. I don’t pay him. I don’t pay him nothing. So, it’s just like, when he’s super direct and when he tells me the truth and when he be like, ‘You deserve this. You need this. You need that,’ it’s just like, he’s not telling me this because he’s gonna benefit something from it. There’s nothing to benefit. He just want to see me win. So, it’s just like, ‘You’re right.’”
Elsewhere in the interview, Cardi revealed that she doesn’t mind being called a female rapper. “I do like the identification. Like, I don’t mind it. I’m really one of those people that I love being a woman.” She also went on to talk about the industry’s knack for comparing and pitting women who rap against each other.
“I don’t want to go with another bitch formula. I want to go with my formula. So, it’s like why do y’all want me to rap like this girl or have like, bars like this girl or have these flows. A hundred flows like this girl? I’m going with my flow. My flow makes me money. My flow is what I like to hear. My flow, it’s just me,” Cardi said.
She continued, “It’s not that I’m competitive, I just don’t like to be on pace with somebody else. I like running on my own time. I like doing things on my own time and my way. So, I really hate when people pit me against each other, because it just makes me feel like I gotta move like them. And I don’t like moving like nobody else. Even last year, everybody was putting music out, all the females. Nicki Minaj. Doja Cat. Megan Thee Stallion. And people was just saying, ‘Oh, Cardi is over. Cardi’s over.’”
She added, “I had [‘WAP’] for months. Could’ve been put it out. And no, I’m not gonna put out a song because other bitches is doing good or they’re doing great. That’s them. What they eat don’t make me shit. And then, it’s just like, it was a really weird moment for me because I hate working because of other people pace. Because other people is doing something. Alright, they doing good, then that’s good for them. But just ’cause they doing good doesn’t mean that I’m gonna be out here rushing my life. Or like, rushing to be in line with them. When it’s my moment, it’s my moment.”
For more of XXL’s Spring 2021 cover story, you can read it here.