In the words of Cardi B, "I like dollars, I like diamonds, I like stunting, I like shining"—and shine she did this year.
Ever since her hit single "Bodak Yellow" dropped in June 2017, the star gradually took the world by storm as fame, fortune and accolades followed. While she initially gained recognition as a reality TV star, it was nothing like the breakthrough she experienced with her number one single, which led the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks. In an instant, a star was born.
More than a year later, the new mom has racked up an impressive list of nominations, awards and records that rival some veteran artists. She's had three number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart—"Bodak Yellow," "I Like It" and "Girls Like You" with Maroon 5—as well as three more in the top 10. To put that in perspective, stars like Bruce Springsteen, the Backstreet Boys and One Direction have never had a number one song on the Hot 100 chart.
Cardi's debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and spent 24 weeks on the chart.
And that was just the start. Just like her tracks on the radio, her award nominations flowed in. She was nominated for two Grammy Awards, eight Billboard Music Awards—including one win—and 12 MTV Video Music Awards.
By the time she took home three moonmen statues in August, she had already become a mother for the first time to daughter Kulture Kiari Cephus, whom she welcomed with Migos member, Offset, in July. On the personal front, the star celebrated two major milestones as she became both a mother and tied the knot in the course of the past year. She shocked fans in June, just weeks before Kulture's arrival, by confirming publicly that she had already married her rapper fiancé in September 2017. As some may recall, the two got very publicly engaged the following October on stage in Philadelphia.
"We found someone to marry us, and she did, just the two of us and my cousin. I said I do, with no dress, no makeup and no ring!" Cardi explained to her followers.
A clear pro at making major announcements, the star confirmed her pregnancy in similar public fashion when she took the SNL stage as the night's musical guest in April and the cameras zoomed out to reveal her baby bump in a white gown. No words were even needed.
Just as her personal life could not have been more busy, the rapper earned a professional honor by being named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People.
"You can't judge me based on where I come from or the colloquialisms that I speak with, because that's who I am. And when you are cool with who you are, no one can use it against you," Taraji P. Henson wrote in honor of Cardi. "I identify with Cardi B, because she knows that too. The first time I went on her Instagram page, she was so raw, coming at you, like, whoa! She used words like 'shmoney' and 'shmoves,' and she talked openly about being a former stripper. And she was proud of it—like, So what, I was on the pole, look what I parlayed that into? When she showed her soul like that, I hit the Follow button. I felt like she had the voice of the people, you know what I mean?...Now she's the biggest thing in music. And even with all those eyeballs watching, she's still unapologetically herself."
While she withdrew from Bruno Mars's 24K Magic World Tour as the opening act and elected to take some personal time away from the spotlight to be with her newborn, Cardi made her awaited public return at the MTV VMAs, kicking off the show with her signature humor.
There, the new mom added to her growing award collection by scoring "Best Collaboration," "Song of the Summer" and "Best New Artist," an award previously given to Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, Alicia Keys and Eminem.
Though the rapper has had her share of drama in recent months, there's no denying that Cardi B emerged as one of the brightest stars this year by being exactly herself.
As she said during her MTV VMA acceptance speech, "I want to thank all my fans, my family that supported me. All the love that my fans, that my friends, that everybody shows me—it's genuine, it's beautiful and that's something that God give me that you can't buy, bitch."
In just a day, she'll take the 2018 American Music Awards stage as both a performer and the star tied with Drake for the most nominations this year—eight first-time nods. Will her success streak continue? We'd bet on it.