Like the many hip-hop stars before her, Cardi B is proud of her Bronx roots.
Though the breakout artist is clearly making “money moves,” she’s not above looking back on her early years in the city.
Cardi B, 25, grew up in the South Bronx neighborhood of Highbridge — a “hood” she says helped her develop the thick skin needed to thrive in the entertainment industry — after moving from Washington Heights.
“I had to toughen up when we moved to the Bronx in the sixth grade, because if you don’t then people will pick on you,” she says, recalling being bullied by her grade school peers and made fun of for her outfit choice (“pink skirts, jackets with fur on the sleeves”).
“I got jumped in the sixth grade real bad and after that, it changed me. It really, really did change me. In middle school and high school, it doesn’t matter how tough you are, or it doesn’t matter if you stand for [expletive], you ain’t nobody if you ain’t in a gang.”
Cardi, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, went to Renaissance High School for Musical Theater and Technology on Tremont Avenue and has admitted having previous gang affiliations on social media, where she refers to herself as “always been in the streets.” The rapper also attributes her city-based upbringing with being the inspiration behind the hit singles (“Bodak Yellow” with Daddy K, “Bartier Cardi”) that launched her success.
“It’s a great experience. I wouldn’t be able to rap about the things that I rap about now [if I hadn’t grown up there],” she says.
Fresh off a successful 2017, the performer is set to release her first solo album later this year. She recently announced an upcoming collaboration with fellow Bronx native Jennifer Lopez, which she calls a “Bronx girl’s dream.” To top it off, Cardi is also heading on tour with Bruno Mars this fall, bringing that “Finesse” to Barclays Center Oct. 4 and 5.