Too Real: Cardi B Makes Her TV Debut

From the pole to the Instagram throne and VH1, Cardi B's built a brand on keeping it 100.

Not Available Lead
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Not Available Lead

Cardi B is out of her mind. It turns out she’s just as unfiltered in person as she is on her Instagram account. When I pick her and her manager up in the lobby of our building she confesses that she’s a little worried and nervous about this interview. When I ask why, her response makes me do a double-take: “Because I’m not spontaneous,” she says. And then after a brief pause she adds, “I’m only spontaneous when it comes to penis.” All three of us start yell-laughing, mostly because Cardi says this with a stranger cowering in the corner of the elevator we’re in. 

Honesty is Cardi’s currency. It’s been that way ever since she started her Instagram account, on which she tackles hard truths with the precision of a veteran comedian. George Carlin would’ve been a Cardi B fan, I’m sure of it. But alongside her no-nonsense hilarity is an underlying message of inspiration to young girls—she lets them know it’s OK to be themselves and to be happy with who they are. That rare combination is the reason why she has resonated with the young generation so much. With PC culture on the rise, Cardi, is one of the few who keeps it a hundo.

With one million followers and counting, the 23-year-old Bronx princess and hoe whisperer has finessed her way into the spotlight. Already in the hearts and minds of those from the hood due to her incomparable online presence, Cardi is on her way to becoming a household name. With her stripping days behind her, she’s now spicing things up with a starring spot on Love & Hip-Hop: New York—and the anticipation is at a fever pitch. Once they dropped a trailer highlighting Cardi as the newest cast member, the internet went nuts—not just because of Cardi’s name recognition, but also because the trailer showed her smacking a cast member, breaking a car window, and hitting a runway model twirl that’d make Naomi Campbell jealous.

And that was nothing. The penis comment Cardi dropped in the elevator seemed crazy—peak Cardi—but it turns out she was just getting started with me.

What kind of strip clubs did you used to work at—Sin City, shit like that?
Well, when I started dancing it was around 42nd St. But when I got my titties blowed up, I started working in the hood clubs.

I figured white clubs would be into fake titties more.
In the white clubs they like my upper body and everything, but you have to have the gift of gab. You have to actually sit down with a guy and talk with him for 25-30 minutes. He might spend thousands on you or he might not and you just wasted a lot of time having a conversation with a guy.

You don’t have the gift of gab?
Not really.

I don’t believe you.
Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t.

How’d you get started stripping?
I used to live with my ex-boyfriend in his mom’s house with two pitbulls, and his sister who used to steal my little bit of money and my little bit of weed, and there were bedbugs in there. I was so young and so “this is my last resort.” I worked at this supermarket called Amish Market. Everything is like organic. When I got fired from there I was like, “What am I going to do?” The manager from the Amish Market place said, “You’re so pretty and you have such a nice body. Why don’t you go across the street and work at Private Eyes?”

Your supermarket manager suggested you should strip?
Yeah. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to get naked.” When I was young I used to think in the strip clubs you have sex. He’s like, “No, you just do lap dances and this and that.” He was really cool with the manager over there so he helped out. I went and it was just so amazing to me. In one day I made more than a week’s pay. But I felt a little bit of shame. I imagined my mother shaking her head. Disgraceful. I had to survive, though.


Did your mom ever come around to it?
I told my mom that I was a dancer after a year and some change. I was really mad at her so I screamed at her, “I’m a stripper!” She was like, “Oh yeah?” And pushed me down the staircase.

Did you guys make up after that? What’s your relationship with your mom now?
Me and my mom are pretty cool. My mother’s Caribbean and she gets a little spicy and I get a little spicy back.

When did things cool down?
My mom, to this day, has never really accepted stripping, no matter how much money she sees me make. It’s like, alright, you are making all of this money you need to own a house, do this, do that. But no matter what, she still doesn’t accept it. She doesn’t complain about it, though.

The path you are going on now is basically the path your mom wanted you to go on, right? She wanted you to flip it into something else. Is she a big motivation in what you are trying to do now?
My mom’s nieces and nephews all went to college. Sometimes when she gets into arguments with her siblings they say, “Look at your kids, they behave so bad.” I know that hurts her. But one day she can be like, “Guess what? My daughter owns this. So what if my daughter was a stripper? She owns a business. She owns a house. Look at the shit she’s driving.” That’s what I want her to say. “Look what my daughter bought me? What the fuck did your daughter buy you? Nothing.” [Laughs.]

“I’m just going to keep following the goals
that I always had—stack money, open a business,
buy real estate.”

I gotta ask—Amber Rose had her Slut Walk and took some criticism for it. I feel like you talk about certain aspects of that. You talk about hoeism too.
I don’t think it’s OK to be a hoe, to fuck everybody. That’s not what I’m trying to say. To be honest with you, I’m not that sexually active. I don’t be fucking like that. I could go for months without fucking. It’s hard for me to like guys. I can talk to guys, I can talk to you, I can lure them to come to the club and throw me money or buy me things I don’t want to buy, but it doesn’t mean I’m fucking them.

They think you want to fuck them.
Yes. Exactly. I’m not telling girls to just be a hoe and suck dick every single day, give their vagina to everybody. What I’m trying to say to girls is don’t let these guys be in your head.

Let’s talk about Instagram. How did you become this Instagram star?
You know what, when I started doing videos and everything I just took a camera and was like, talking about how corny guys are, how corny bitches are. Just doing jokes that I do with my friends. A lot of people when they meet me will be like, you are just like your Instagram video. I’m like, bitch I know. That’s who I am. I’m not trying to be funny for Instagram. People just like my voice or my fucked-up-ass teeth or something. In a video I once said a bitch looks like a light-skinned lizard and that her breath smells like turtle food. You never smelled turtle food? That shit stank.

How do you feel about the negative comments you get? I see that you respond to them sometimes.
At first I couldn’t take it. I was going to stop doing videos. I couldn’t take the pressure. Then I started seeing that a lot of girls kept writing to me like, “Yo, I feel so confident about my body because you just show me I shouldn’t care.” There’s a couple of people talking shit about me, but there’s so many more girls saying that I inspire them.

Even when you talk about fucking and sucking dick, some girls feel like it’s empowering.
Everyone has sex. Everybody sucks dick and fucks. If a chick ever asks me how to keep a man—suck his dick and his balls at the same time. That’s how you gonna keep him.

Not everybody has a tongue like you, though.
I’m not the type of bitch that be cookin’ or whatever. I’m not domestic. I think I will be. I love kids. I really want to have a kid, but I’m not a domestic person. But I really want to let these girls know—this is how you keep a dude around. Sex is important.

Is a girl that can fuck and suck better than a girl that can cook?
Hell yeah. Anybody could cook. I could order food for you all day long. I do know how to cook, but I don’t really give a fuck. We just have sex. Don’t expect me to cook. I’m tired. I’m as tired as you. [Laughs.]

“Everybody want to be a rapper. F*ck your dreams.
Get a job.”

You’re a celebrity now. How does it feel to be recognized in the streets?
Sometimes I just can’t believe it. I never thought I would be this popular. That was never part of my plans. It just really happened, thanks to social media. Sometimes it’s like, damn, people don’t respect my privacy. Sometimes I’ll be in a hurry and people want to take a picture. I try to let them take the picture though because I don’t want people to ever be like, “Why don’t you want to take a picture with me? Get the fuck out of here you stupid bitch.”

Whenever you say some crazy shit it goes viral. One of the more popular clips that people post on Twitter is the “A hoe never gets cold” video.
Oh yeah. Wow. It’s crazy. Females really take that risk of going to a club with only heels and a skirt. It could be snowing, but we take that chance because we want to look good. So it’s like, bitch I never get cold.

When did you stop stripping?
I stopped like two months ago, because I’m seeing that my career is taking a different path. I’m focusing on music now. I was always felt like I could do music. When you’re getting older all your dreams that you had when you were a child—like I want to be a musician, I want to be an artist—reality breaks it down. It fucks it up for you. Bills fuck everything up for you.

But now you’re hosting events. How did that get started?
I started seeing all these girls have so many followers. I said to myself, I want to be just like that, but I wasn’t as curvy as them. I didn’t have a big ass like them. I was so young and skinny. I just had big beautiful tits and a nice flat stomach. But I didn’t really have an ass or thighs like that. I just couldn’t believe that I got so many followers like those other girls just by being myself. But I never hit nobody up to host. My email has always been on bio. 

Are you getting into the studio with Shaggy? “Boom, Boom” is kind of poppin’.
I think that song is kind of poppin’ too. I wasn’t in the studio with him. I just heard his part of the song. The studio is taking a lot of my time.

How did you end up on Love & Hip Hop?
Motherfuckers just hit me up and I said I’ll think about it. All I saw was cons, I’m a very negative person. I was like, imagine if they ruin my reputation? I know I talk a lot of hoe shit on my Instagram, and people think that I put all of my business on there, but I really don’t. I just give you a percentage of what I want you to have.

Can you talk about the part in the trailer that had everyone going crazy? When you smacked the girl and then when you did the little turn and said, “Foreva.”
That’s just how I feel. If I ever have some type of conflict with somebody I feel like they’re my opposition for the rest of my life. We could probably make up and everything but I’m going to hate you forever. For example, if you hanging off the cliff and we already made up, I’m not going to help you up. I'll really wish you'd die. We are going to have beef forever because I hate you forever. I wish bad upon you forever.

Going from stripping to going viral to now being on reality TV, how has that experience been?
It’s almost like having a job, practically. It’s regular to me. I just to do different things. It’s a different experience. Sometimes I feel like I’m not ready for all of it, but then it’s like, fuck it. Why not? Let’s do it.

After Love & Hip Hop, are you trying to be reality star? What’s the end game?
I’m not trying to be a reality star, at all. Like I said, I’m really focusing on my music. If my music don’t work out, I’m just going to keep following the realistic goals that I always had—stack money, open a business, buy real estate. If the music don’t work out, that’s all. At the end of the day, I really want to have a kid when I’m 25. I’m the type of person that I want that whole family, baby thing. I’m Carribbean. I should have been married by now.

If you were president, how would America be like?
It would be a little bit better. I just think, sometimes, there are a lot of things that America is a little stupid about. For example, I find it so ridiculous that if you make $10 an hour you are not allowed to get welfare. Look at New York, our rent is so expensive. To live in a bum ass apartment, a one bedroom in the Bronx, it’s like $1,000. I feel like I would raise wages higher. Now everybody want to pop four or five babies so they can live in the projects and shit. We can’t be doing that. There’s so many people that just don’t want to work. I feel like people need to work, seriously. Not everybody could sell drugs. Not everybody could be a stripper. Get a job. Get a fucking job. Somebody got to tell you. Everybody want to be a rapper. Fuck your dreams. Get a job.

Latest in Pop Culture