In 2020, as well as dropping chart-topping hits, Cardi B has been an outspoken voice for social justice and a figurehead in political activism. It’s this powerful combination that earned the rapper the Woman of the Year title at Billboard’s Women in Music event last night (December 10), which was presented to her by Breonna Taylor’s mum.
Tamika Palmer’s daughter was murdered in her home during a police raid on March 13. Her death, along with the tragic killing of George Floyd in May, was one of the catalysts for the urgent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, which spread across the world over the summer.
In August, Cardi called on more of her male counterparts to speak out about Taylor’s death. “She looked like she was listening to your music,” she said. “She looked like she was your fan. You should stick up for her.”
Later, she added: “What (the police) did to (Taylor) is really fucked up. What’s the excuse? Why is the cop not in jail? Wasn’t what he did a crime? It’s a crime! And no apology. I don’t even know how her mom still holds her head up. Unbelievable.”
Presenting Cardi with her award via video, Palmer hailed the rapper as “one of Breonna’s most outspoken advocates over the past few months”, adding: “Cardi has used her platform to spread the truth about what happened to Breonna and to reaffirm that Black women’s lives matter. Cardi B’s impact reaches far beyond music. That’s why I am so proud and honoured to present Billboard’s Woman of the Year award to Miss Cardi B.”
In her acceptance speech, Cardi discussed how her musical output was “messed up” this year by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, adding that she’s “grateful and thankful that the song that I actually did put out this year, which was ‘WAP’ featuring Megan Thee Stallion, broke so many records (and sparked) a conversation that I never thought (would become) so big”. With a laugh, she continued: “It pissed off a whole bunch of Republicans for no reason.”
“I wanna say to all the girls out there, when I came into the music industry, I didn’t know if people was going to accept me. Throughout the years, I have progressed because I wanted to progress. I want to be the best I can at anything that I do. Life is about making your dreams come true, but in order to make your dreams come true, don’t think it’s gonna come and fall from the sky to your lap. You actually gotta put in the work. You gotta be ambitious. You gotta become great at what you do. You gotta be able to take criticism.”
“There’s hope,” Cardi concluded. “There’s hope for your dreams.”