It’s no secret that the hip-hop industry is mainly run by men. While there are famous artists such as ay-Z, Kanye West, and Drake, there are also talented female artists as well. Two of the currently most famous female artists are 36-year-old Nicki Minaj and 26-year-old Cardi B.
Of course, as with all famous women, it was only a matter of time before the media would start to compare them, making everyone think these two are competition and need to beef. While it is clear that the two have similarities — it would be surprising if they didn’t, since both come from a similar background — we also think each one of them is quite unique in their songwriting, musical talents, and fashion choices.
But in order to better understand these two ladies, today we will take a trip down memory lane and take a look into their childhoods. Both of them grew up in New York City and both of them worked very hard to reach the same dream — at which both succeeded.
Here are 10 photos from Cardi B’s childhood, and 10 from Nicki Minaj’s.
20. LET’S START OFF WITH BABY BELCALIS
Cardi B, whose actual name is Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, was born on October 11, 1992, in New York City. The famous rapper grew up in The Bronx with her Dominican father and Trinidadian/Spaniard mother. Now we don’t know about you, but judging from these baby pics, we can already tell that little Belcalis was going to grow up into a strong and sassy lady — it’s almost like we can hear baby Cardi saying “okurr.” But in the photo above, Cardi was just an innocent (but still sassy) little baby who had no idea that one day people all over the globe would sing along to her songs.
19. CARDI’S SIGNATURE POSE WAS ALWAYS HANDS ON THE HIPS
Okay, let’s move on to a slightly older Cardi — we’d guess around elementary school age — showing everyone how to properly pose. Yup, this little lady had her red carpet pose down very early on because true stars know that one has to always be ready for that perfect camera snapshot. And Cardi’s go-to pose was always hands on the hips and a big, genuine smile! We gotta say, all that practicing definitely paid off, because Cardi’s red carpet poses nowadays are always perfect. Speaking of perfect: How ’90s is her whole look in the first photo with the yellow overalls and high bun?
18. AND SHE EARLY ON SHOWED A TALENT FOR ENTERTAINING
Cardi was always ready to entertain, and judging from her childhood pics, this little lady always had a thing or two to say. We love Cardi for her outgoing and talkative personality, and it’s pretty clear that she was always like that. According to Biography, the star got her thick accent because she spent so much time at her paternal grandmother’s home in Washington Heights. Honestly, we wouldn’t want Cardi to have turned out any other way, and seeing these pics of her growing up is definitely lifting our mood. Little Cardi throwing her sass around is such a vibe!
17. YOU COULD DEFINITELY NOT MISS HER IN SCHOOL — SHE WAS THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
As we already mentioned, Cardi does seem like the type of kid who loved being the center of attention. Here she is in a class picture, and we bet you spotted her immediately! She’s being brave and wearing a full-on red look — and we think little Cardi is absolutely pulling it off. And let us tell you, being a style icon at that age is not something everyone can do. Cardi’s life would get a bit more difficult later on, but at this time she was still just a kid enjoying school, friends and having plenty of fun experimenting with her look.
16. HERE SHE IS WITH HER YOUNGER SISTER HENNESSY
True fans will already know this, but for the rest of you: Cardi actually has a younger sister born in 1995 called Hennessy Carolina. Yup, her parents named her Hennessy, and with that, they in a way contributed to creating Cardi B’s iconic stage name. Since her sister was called Hennessy, Cardi’s friends started calling her Bacardi — after the famous rum brand. Once Bacardi started getting noticed and she realized she has a real shot at fame, she switched her stage name to Cardi B to avoid any copyright problems with the drink brand. Now that is a great stage name story!
15. FAMILY WAS ALWAYS SUPER IMPORTANT TO CARDI
Judging from a lot of these photos from Cardi B’s early childhood, we can definitely tell that she was always surrounded by family. True fans already know how close Cardi is to her sister Hennessy, but as you can tell from the image on the right — there was always plenty of cousins and friends around as well. Personally, we are grateful that the star chose to occasionally give us a glimpse into her childhood by posting these pics on her social media platforms because seeing little Cardi smile in literally every photo taken of her ever is definitely making us happy.
14. CARDI’S YEARBOOK PICS ARE PERFECTION
We’re surely not surprised at this point — as we know Cardi knew how to work her poses in front of the camera pretty much since the day she was born. It is clear that the rapper always had a very bubbly and fun personality, which in our opinion sets her a bit apart from fellow rapper Nicki Minaj — who is known to be a bit more serious and bossy. Either way, as we keep mentioning, the world is ready for multiple strong women who make hip hop music, and there is no need to put these two ladies against each other!
13. AND TEEN CARDI WAS CLEARLY A STYLISH GAL
Can we just say how teen Cardi B definitely owned that early 2000s look? The low-rise jeans, the super straight hair, the polka-dotted dress, and the fun updo take us back to a time where the queens of female hip hop were Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim. Isn’t is kind of sad that plenty of young kids nowadays don’t even know who those two were? And how they paved the way for other women who wanted to create music in a genre that is mainly run by men? Well, we bet Cardi listened to a lot of their music at this age, and sometimes we can hear their influences on her in the music she makes.
12. CARDI GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL IN 2010
According to Biography, Cardi went to the Renaissance High School For Musical Theater & Technology. While attending school, Cardi also had a job at a supermarket in Lower Manhattan — proving that she was always a hustler. We think she looks absolutely stunning in both yearbook pics, and we love a slightly more elegant and grown-up Cardi with a short bob haircut — she definitely has the face to pull that look off. During and after high school Cardi had a slightly rougher patch in her life — one that she is completely open about and often talks of. We love that she still had the strength to go for her dreams, and seeing that she succeeded makes us so proud!
11. BUT BEFORE SHE DID SHE PERFORMED LADY GAGA’S BAD ROMANCE — NOT KNOWING THAT ONE DAY SHE’D ACTUALLY MEET HER
Before we hop over to Nicki Minaj’s childhood pics — we had to include this one. At a high school talent show, Cardi B performed Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” not knowing that one day she would not only meet the star but share stages with her too. And if you look closely you can see that Cardi also had perfected the whole performance — including Lady Gaga’s iconic raw raw claws. We wonder if Gaga ever saw this video of teen Cardi B singing and dancing to her music — if she did we bet she was just as impressed as we are.
10. NOW LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT LITTLE NICKI
Nicki, whose real name is Onika Tanya Maraj was born on December 8, 1982, in Trinidad and Tobago. Yup, Nicki is ten years older than Cardi B, but honestly, if we didn’t know we would never guess. Both of Nicki’s parents were gospel singers, and true fans will know this rapper also has an amazing singing voice we wish she’d show off more. But anyway, back to her childhood. Nicki moved with her mom who got accepted to a college in New York City, and the family lived in parts of The Bronx and Queens. In the pic above you can see little Nicki with her mother, Carol.
9. HOW CUTE ARE THOSE DIMPLES?
While Nicki has grown up and changed a lot, there’s one thing we’ll always recognize her by — her adorable dimples! In the photos above you can see a young Nicki smiling, and honestly, with a smile like that it was only a matter of time before some record producer was going to say yes to her. According to Biography, Nicki was always a very creative child, and she dealt with personal problems by creating personas that would help her reinvent herself. Cookie, Harajuku Barbie, and Nicki Minaj were some of her early alter egos, and as you can see, she even picked one for her stage name.
8. HERE SHE IS AS A SERIOUS TEEN IN A VIDEO
One thing that we did notice when we compared Cardi B and Nicki Minaj’s childhood pics is that while Cardi was pretty much always a little ray of sunshine, Nicki was often quite serious — and we bet that gave her plenty of respect. Sure, we definitely think young Nicki also had plenty of fun, but we can also tell she could get super serious real quick, and no one would want to mess around with her then. We love that while the two stars are somewhat similar in terms of expression when it comes to their music and fashion, both of them are still unique and have found their own fanbase. At the end of the day, we can’t stress this enough but the world can handle more than one amazing female rapper!
7. AND NICKI DABBLED A BIT IN ACTING IN HIGH SCHOOL
It seems as if during high school Nicki was a member of a drama club, as a video of her in a scene shot at school is available on the internet. As you can tell from the video stills above — Nicki definitely takes acting very seriously, and we are pretty impressed with her performance. You can tell the scene was serious and the two girls were arguing, and personally, we think Nicki should explore acting a bit more. You never know, perhaps an Academy Award winner lies in this rap queen, and in that case, it would be a pity not to explore acting some more.
6. HER YEARBOOK PICS ARE JUST AS FLY AS CARDI’S
We already mentioned that Cardi looked stunning in her high school yearbook pics, but so did Nicki. The rapper attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, which focuses on visual and performing arts and after graduating Nicki wanted to become an actress. As we mentioned, the girl does seem to have talent in that department as well, but eventually, she found her calling in becoming one of the few female stars who have managed to become worldwide known rappers. And in case you can’t see what her yearbook quote was, it was “to survive is to stay alive in the face of opposition” — a lyric from Lauryn Hill’s song “Forgive Them Father.”
5. AND NICKI ALSO ALWAYS HAD A SIMILAR GO-TO POSE
While Cardi’s signature pose was two hands on her hips with a huge grin on her face, Nicki’s was a bit more serious and fierce. The rapper’s go-to was one hand on the hip with a serious look on her face — or a slight smile, but nothing too over-the-top. Even nowadays when you compare the two artists you can tell that Nicki has a rather boss aka don’t-mess-around-with-her vibe, while Cardi still has that bubbly and quirky energy. As you can already tell, we love both divas, we think each of them is unique in their own way, and while they do share similarities — they definitely don’t copy each other.
4. ONCE SHE WAS A TEEN, IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE SHE BROKE BIG
Once Nicki was 18, it was evident that it would only be a matter of time for this rap star to be signed to a major label. Teen Nicki spent a lot of time as a backup singer for local New York City rappers until, according to Biography, she got discovered by the Dirty Money CEO Fendi, who came across Nicki’s MySpace page. He immediately loved what he heard, he signed Nicki to his label, and the rest is history. Getting discovered through MySpace is such an early 2000s thing, but luckily for Nicki, she clearly knew how to use the platform to her advantage!
3. HER LOVE FOR LONG NAILS STARTED EARLY
One thing we noticed by looking at these teen Nicki pics is that the star always loved having long nails — and we think that’s something she also has in common with miss Cardi B. Both of them are currently sporting the super long nails trend, but Nicki even rocked them back in high school. Now we’re not sure how she managed to keep them safe during PE class, but we love a dedicated fashionista! Don’t you just love how her hair looks so early 2000s, with that one strand left in the front? Can we please have that make a comeback?
2. HERE’S A YOUNG NICKI IN THE STUDIO
Here’s a teen Nicki in the studio, probably recording some of her earliest songs. While it took a couple more years for the star to release her debut album, Pink Friday, the rapper definitely worked on songs and cameos before that. Judging from the pic, you can see that Nicki is the happiest in a recording studio doing what she loves most, as most good artists are. Personally, we would love to see both of these divas there together, using their talents to create what could probably be the best hip hop anthem made by two female artists who run the industry side by side!
1. AND HERE SHE IS RIGHT BEFORE EVERYONE KNEW HER NAME
Lastly here’s a pic on Nicki right before her big break, as you can tell she already knew rapper Lil Wayne. Both Nicki and Cardi had similar childhoods with both of them growing up in New York City and trying to make their way through in an industry that definitely lacks more women — but luckily for all of us, both of them have succeeded and are giving us smash hits as if they will never run out of inspiration. Knowing a bit more about an artist’s background definitely makes us understand and appreciate them more, and we definitely love these two ladies!