“This whole year has just been a lot for me. I feel like people are just so tired of me winning. I will look for my name on Twitter, and it’s like hate tweets, hate tweets, hate tweets,” Cardi B tells Vogue in her January cover story—one of four featuring famous mothers. Acknowledging that the medium that helped propel her to stardom can also be her downfall, she says, “Social media really made me...Before I got on Love & Hip Hop, I had millions of followers just off the way I speak. Just me talking. And that’s how I got discovered. But now social media makes everything hard.”
Case in point: the very public breakup and subsequent makeup between Cardi and husband Offset that began late last year and primarily played out on Instagram and Twitter. As she now tells Vogue:
When me and my husband got into our issues—you know, he cheated and everything—and I decided to stay with him and work together with him, a lot of people were so mad at me; a lot of women felt disappointed in me...But it’s real-life shit. If you love somebody and you stop being with them, and you’re depressed and social media is telling you not to talk to that person because he cheated, you’re not really happy on the inside until you have the conversation. Then, if you get back with them, it’s like, how could you? You let all of us down...
My thing is, everybody on social media acts like relationships is perfect, and that’s crazy to me. I’m around so many women, and there’s always a woman talking about how she loves her man, but her man is not financially stable, or she has a problem with his mom, or the sex is not as good anymore. Everybody has issues.
But at the center of Cardi’s life is 17-month-old daughter Kulture Kiari Cephus, who joins her megastar mom on Vogue’s cover (rocking the best baby hair game we’ve ever seen). “Being a mom—how can I say it? Things are a little bit harder to balance, but it’s good for the mental,” says Cardi. “Like, if I’m playing with my daughter, I forget about the issues.”
And for those who want to cast uninformed aspersions upon her parenting or personality, the rapper assures us her priorities are in order:
I could shake my ass, I could be the most ratchet-est person ever, I could get into a fight tomorrow, but I’m still a great mom. All the time I’m thinking about my kid. I’m shaking my ass, but at the same time I’m doing business, I’m on the phone with my business manager saying, make sure that a percentage of my check goes to my kid’s trust. I give my daughter so much love, and I’m setting her up for a future. I want to tell her that a lot of the shit that I have done in life—no matter what I did, knowing that I wanted to have kids made me go harder to secure a good future for my kids...I just want her to be an owner of whatever the fuck she wants to own. Just be an owner. Be the boss.”
Say whatever you want about Cardi B, but she’s definitely a boss—one who has no patience for respectability politics or faux feminism.
“Women always want to talk about feminism and supporting everybody...except if it doesn’t fit your category of what to support,” she tells Vogue. “Certain women that claim they are feminists only think that a certain type of woman should represent that. Like oh, you have to have a college degree, and you have to fucking be, practically, like, a senator or Mother Teresa or a Christian holy woman. No, you do not. Feminism means being equal to a man. And I am.”
What other rapper recently turned up on a Vogue cover? Our favorite Kanye critic Chika, who brings her unapologetic style to Teen Vogue’s December issue in conversation with designer Kerby Jean-Raymond (whose Pyer Moss label she also wears during the shoot).
“I want longevity. It’s not really about the moment because moments come and go, and I’ve been doing this for four years, almost,” Chika tells Jean-Raymond. “I’ve had waves of people being like, ‘She’s up next’ and, like, ‘This is it.’ I don’t care. It doesn’t mean anything...In actuality, all I really need is for my work to back up whatever hype there maybe around my name.
“I don’t want to even be a female rapper,” she later adds. “I’m a rapper. So for someone to have a qualifier like that and throw it out there so publicly — it feels really backhanded. I don’t like [it].”
Also note? The incredible braided styles in Chika’s editorial, courtesy of celebrity stylist Lacy Redway. In particular, peep the custom crown—which Redway admits she didn’t even realize was a perfect homage to Biggie until after the fact.
Also gracing a recent crop of covers are a trio of ingenues—Normani, Zendaya (also named GQ Australia’s Woman of the Year) and Megan Thee Stallion cover Cosmopolitan, Allure and i-D, respectively, giving us a look at our next wave of potential bosses—and how they think.
For her Cosmopolitan cover story, written by Jezebel’s Clover Hope, Normani reveals the motivation behind the video for her hit single of the same name: “that women should own their sexuality.” But equally important to her was representation, as she tells Hope:
I told the director, “I want this to be as black as possible...I was like, let’s show black culture. Why does pop music have to be so white? Why don’t we make it a little bit more me?”...
I’m gonna make whatever I do black. You’ll know that I’m a black girl, even if it’s on the quote-unquote whitest record ever.”
Zendaya’s indisputably had a huge year, with HBO’s Euphoria definitively ending her Disney kid days. But it was the debut of her collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy x Zendaya, that got the fashion world buzzing, as the Parisian show was a tribute to the 1973 “Battle of Versailles,” which was the first major fashion show to center a significant number of African American models. As Zendaya tells Allure, the homage—which featured several of those original models, including Pat Cleveland—was also a thank you.
It was a celebration of the women who opened the door for me. Without what these women did in this fashion landscape, without Beverly Johnson, the first black woman to have a [American] Vogue cover, my Vogue cover doesn’t exist...It’s saying thank you, and it’s also putting it in our minds that that’s what we have to continue to do. That’s the only way that doors are going to continue to be open—if we keep inviting people that look like us, and other people who don’t look like us, to come through the door.
Megan Thee Stallion
In addition to seemingly possessing “vibranium knees,” the phenom known as Meg Thee Stallion has almost preternatural confidence, which, as one of i-D’s six recent cover stars, she credits to her upbringing.
I always thought I was the shit because my family always told me that I was, so can’t nobody tell me no different. If you wake up every goddamn day and your mama is telling you, “Oh my God, you’re so beautiful. You’re so amazing,” that’s what you’re going to believe. So if somebody comes to me different, like, “What the fuck are you talking about? My mama told me I was beautiful, so what are you saying?”
But wait, there’s more: What other black magic has made the covers of our favorite magazines as of late? Check out our slideshow below...