Dating like a diva dating or match

In a year when the youth power of streaming services, which now count toward chart positions, is changing the very meaning of pop, she's become the first female rapper to score a solo Number One since Lauryn Hill in 1998.

Not bad for someone who initially pursued rapping as a way to monetize her reality fame.

Cardi B is butt-naked in the doorway of her hotel bathroom, yelling about her vagina. Simply being Cardi B, at maximum volume, made her a star – first on Instagram, then on the VH1 reality show Love & Hip-Hop: New York – before she'd recorded any music at all, let alone knocked Taylor Swift from the top of the pop charts with the sly swagger of her single "Bodak Yellow." She is the people's diva – or "the strip-club Mariah Carey," as she once rapped – unfiltered in a way the world often doesn't allow female stars to be.

On a mid-October evening, she's readying herself for a college show in Baltimore, and the toiletries provided by the hotel aren't to her liking. In a culture reshaped by streaming and social media, where the kids, without much corporate nudging, get to decide who the stars are, Cardi B is what you get. She took a rare day off, hanging with her entire family – sister, parents, cousins – at her mother's house.

"She fears failure, and paints a vivid picture of what it might look like: "If you go broke and lose your career, it's bad – and everybody is talkin' shit about it!

At least if you lose your 9-to-5 you don't got millions of people judging you and talking shit while you lost your job." Seven years ago, Cardi B was convinced she'd already failed at life.

There is a chorus of doubters in her head, she acknowledges, and it sounds something like this: "Can she make another hit, can she make another hit?'" She dropped out after two semesters, and soon took up stripping – a career move helpfully suggested by her Amish Market boss. " She used some of her stripping cash to briefly return to school."A lot of people wonder, ' Why would anybody want to be a dancer? "I kept missing classes," she says, "and quit because I felt like I was already failing.It was such a disappointment." Her strict Trinidadian mother worked seven days a week at a local college; her Dominican father, who separated from her mom when Cardi was 13, was "the cool parent," she says.For Cardi, his experience doing "different things in the streets" was a cautionary tale.

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