A recent video has resurfaced online that shows hip hop personality Cardi B admitting to drugging and robbing men. The video, circulated in part by hip hop news mainstays such as Dj Akademiks and Complex News, is a screen recording of an Instagram live conversation Cardi had with fans roughly three years ago. In the video, which has resulted in a stream of angry tweets and negative press, the Bodak Yellow rapper says “I had to go strip… I had to go aw yea you want to fuck me yea lets go to this hotel and I drugged n****s up and I robbed them.” Cardi’s comments were in response to claims of her being an “industry plant” or falsely advertising herself as a self-made artist.
Cardi went on to say that she was never given handouts and had to make her way up from the bottom. In response to the video, the hashtag “Surviving Cardi B,” a play on the title of the popular Netflix docuseries “Surviving R-Kelly,” has begun to trend on social media. Cardi has since posted to Twitter in her defense saying, “I never claim to be perfect or come from a perfect world wit a perfect past.”
Despite her apologies and claims she acted out of necessity, some people are drawing parallels between her actions and the actions of R&B singer R-Kelly, who made news earlier this year for his ongoing sexual misconduct debacle, and entertainer Bill Cosby, who is undergoing the appeals process for sentencing for sexual assault. Both these men, who have long been marred in controversy, have now been joined by scores of other men due to the “Me Too” movement. These men include Harvey Weinstein and James Franco, to name a couple. Some of these personalities, most notably Weinstein, have now been blacklisted from their respective industries for their actions.
Cardi, however, has warded off much of the backlash generated against her and has maintained strong public support. Various hip hop personalities such as Rick Ross and her husband Offset have voiced their support for Cardi and her claims that her actions were justified by the need to survive. The fact that the Grammy-winning performer felt the need to commit these crimes to survive is what sets her apart from the crowd of Me Too offenders. Kelly and Cosby both abused their power and social standing to take advantage of women. Cardi, however, used sex and drugs to manipulate men as a means of survival. This fact does not excuse Cardi’s crimes, but it does explain why the backlash against her has been different from the backlash experienced by Kelly and Cosby. Part of the reason is Cardi’s branding of herself as a hustler.
In an article for “The Federalist,” Emily Jashinsky raises the fact that excusing Cardi’s “abhorrent” behavior could bring rise to a dangerous new precedent about the acceptability of criminal behavior by celebrities. Jashinsky also raises the issue of inequality between the consequences for males and females who commit exploitative acts. For example, in the UK, only men can be charged for rape, a fact noted by Natasha Mckeever in the book “Criminal Law and Philospophy.” Despite the controversy, Cardi’s career has not slowed, as her single featuring Bruno Mars “Please Me” is still on the Billboard Hot 100 list a month after its release and has garnered more than 100 million views on YouTube. As of the publishing of this article, neither Atlantic Records nor Quality Control music have made public statements or leveraged repercussions against Belcalis Almanzar (Cardi B).