Cardi B in 2016
Rob Kim—Getty Images

When creator Mona Scott-Young unveiled the VH1 series Love & Hip Hop in 2011, it was an irreverent, unscripted look at the colorful and nuanced lives of women in the hip-hop industry, many of whom were in romantic relationships with the genre’s male stars. Over time, however, the popular series—which has spawned eight spinoffs, including franchises in Atlanta and Hollywood—became an effective vehicle for aspiring artists to launch their careers. The most salient example is then-future superstar Cardi B, who arrived in season 6. Ahead of her first of two seasons on the show, Cardi was a former stripper with a viral social media presence, but her on-screen charisma, hilarious quips, and refreshingly authentic persona demonstrated the star power that would help make her a Grammy winner and the female rapper with the most #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Cardi’s ascent, as documented on the show, captured what it takes to make a modern music-industry star—not just musical savvy, but also multiplatform appeal. —Cady Lang

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