Carrie Battan at The New Yorker:
If you need more proof that reality television and social media are this era’s greatest cultural incubators, look no further than Cardi B (born Belcalis Almanzar), the twenty-five-year-old Bronx native who has taken an unprecedented but well-documented path to pop-world domination. In 2014, while working as a stripper, she launched a grassroots campaign for her personality on Instagram and Vine, posting bawdy, unflinching videos in which she monologued about whatever was on her mind—unfaithful boyfriends, the indignity of backhanded compliments, the relative merits of ihop and Philippe Chow—in a thick New York Spanish accent. She sometimes wore nothing but a shower cap. “I ain’t gon’ lie to y’all, these terrorist attacks got my mental a li’l finicky. That’s why I been in the Bronx,” she said in one video, from 2015. “Keep me away from downtown. Ain’t nobody tryna blow up the hood. ”
These little gems of street wisdom got her cast in Mona Scott-Young’s VH1 reality series “Love & Hip Hop.” A chatterbox with a refreshingly unvarnished self-presentation, Cardi, in perhaps her greatest accomplishment, inverts the uses of the platforms she first called home: in her universe, social media and television serve as megaphones for candor and exuberance rather than for deception or artifice.