Photographed by Oliver Hadlee Pearch, the Bronx bombshell is surrounded by a diverse group of young girls in the empowering black-and-white shoot, which finds her rocking a black bob and riding through NYC on a white horse.
Inside of the issue, Cardi isn’t afraid to get political. “The success of people like me scares people, that’s why they belittle us,” she says. “If you’re a little scrawny man raised in a trailer in Alabama somewhere, of course you’re scared right now. That’s why they own guns! They’re scared of the intelligence of the minority. They scared of that shit. We have broken these rules a lot of times.”
She added: “In America, I always look at the charts. Hip-hop is always there. We are controlling the music industry. We control the fashion world,” she says, “I don’t give a fuck if the fashion comes from a runway or if a Caucasian woman is walking it, once a coloured person wears something, that’s when everybody wants to wear it. We always influence. When you see the Olympics, who always wins? Coloured folks. We win everything. We are a big influence and people want to take that shit away. People like Donald Trump, they’re always going to make us feel like we’re less. But it’s okay, because a bitch like me knows the truth. It don’t matter if the government and the Republicans try to make us feel like we’re not, cos we is. I know the truth…We run the shit! We influence. We run everything.”
Read additional quotes from the interview below.
On Perception: “A teacher also told me my English is not that good. She told me, ‘You need to speak a certain way.’ They said the same when I got famous. But I feel like I speak English properly. I know what’s going on. I understand what’s happening on CNN. A lot of people don’t understand, but I understand.”
On Making History: “When I got to No. 1, I didn’t even know that no woman has done that since 1998. I didn’t know how important it was for the community or the minorities.”
On Being a Feminist: “Being a feminist is real simple; it’s that a woman can do things the same as a man. I can finesse. I can hustle. We have the same freedom. I was in top of the charts. I’m a woman and I did that.”
On Bullies & Gangs: “I was getting picked on for the way I dressed. 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 shit, you ain’t nobody if you ain’t in a gang. People influence you and tell you that you should join this or you should join that. Then again, 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].”
On Stripping: “The first time I stripped I was really embarrassed. I felt like I could hear my parents in the back of my mind. When I gave my first lap-dance all the girls were looking at me to see if I was doing something wrong cos I ain’t know how to do a lap-dance. But I felt so disgusted. They can’t touch you in your private parts and they’re not supposed to touch you at all, but sometimes a man would caress me on my arm and I would hear them breathe so heavy in my ear. It just disgusted me…After a while I didn’t even care anymore. I was seeing money that I feel like I would’ve never seen ever. At first I started off making $200 or $300, sometimes not making money at all because you’ve gotta pay your house fee and my house fees were very expensive. But after I got good at it there was nights where I would leave with $2,000 or $3,000. When I was 21 I had $20,000 saved up. When I was 22 I already had $35,000 saved — in singles.”
On Her Wedding to Offset: “It’s going to be gangster. I don’t want it to be a boring wedding reception, ’cause me? I’m going to be doing the splits. I want that shit to be fun.”