Read on to better understand what exactly caused the 25-year-old Invasion of Privacy star to lash out, and what the Queen Barbie, 35, has to say about it.
The first hints of tension between the pair began in the spring of 2017, when Minaj appeared to “like” a fan’s Instagram comment dismissing one of Cardi B’s rap verses as “Dumb ass bars.” However, many users were quick to observe that this “like” could have been the result of Photoshop fakery or an account hack.
Whatever the case, Minaj seemingly “liked” a tweet saying that the social media diss was faked.
On “Swish Swish,” Katy Perry‘s diss track reportedly aimed at longtime nemesis Taylor Swift, fans picked up on some shade coming from Minaj’s direction. “Silly rap beefs just get me more checks / My life is a movie, I’m never off set / Me and my amigos (no, not Offset),” she rapped on her guest verse. Some speculated that Cardi was not happy with the line — particularly the bit that shouted out her man.
Soon after the song’s release, Cardi unleashed a series of impassioned tirades on Instagram Live. Though she didn’t mention names, many believed they were directed at Minaj.
“I hate this s—, I really, really do. A bitch like me, I was happier when I was macking in the hood. This s— right here is so fake,” she said during one livestream, according to Billboard. “When I used to be a regular bitch from the Bronx — a hood bitch — when somebody used to be fake to me it was cool because I could approach a bitch and punch her right in her closure… Now that I’m in the industry, you don’t work like that, just have to watch s— go, watch s— go. You gotta see people play you and just say nothing like a dick. That s— is so wack my n—alike that s— be breaking my heart because the people, your idols, become rivals.”
For any fans foolish enough to pit her against Minaj, Cardi B posted a handy reminder on Twitter that summer.
The feud appeared to heat up when Cardi performed her ubiquitous summer hit “Bodak Yellow” during a festival at MoMA’s PS1 in Queens. “You know this bitch she never f—ing liked me,” she said from the stage, “and all of a sudden she want to be friends with me — no, bitch … I still don’t like you bitch.”
Later that month, Minaj was featured on the track “No Flags’ with 21 Savage and Offset. Her verse raised the eyebrows of some fans who believe that it referenced — who else? — Cardi. “I heard these labels are trying to make another me / Everything you’re getting little hoe is because of me.”
Dropping shortly after Cardi B had signed her mega-deal with Atlantic Records, the line was certainly suspicious. However, Minaj diffused the rumors herself on Twitter, sharing that she’d written the verse long before she ever knew the ex-Love and Hip Hop star.
Cardi weighed in as well just a few hours later, offering a comment that can either be viewed as a brush-off of fans playing the pair against one another — or a slam against Minaj.
During an interview at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards in late August, Cardi did her best to bury the rumors of a feud. “I mean, I don’t really want problems with anybody,” she told Billboard. “I don’t want to be, like, queen. I don’t wanna be no this. I don’t wanna be no that. I just wanna make music and make money. I really don’t have time to look at other women, what they doing. I’m myself, you know what I’m saying? Nobody got a problem with me. I don’t got a problem with them. If somebody got a problem I don’t really got to do that whole industry beef. Like, you know, I get it popping with these hands.”
Cardi took a verse on the G-Eazy song “No Limit,” which many felt was a dig at Minaj, who’d been the reigning rap queen for the better part of a decade. “My career takin’ off / These hoes jogging in place / Swear these hoes run they mouth / How these hoes out of shape? / Can you stop with all the subs? / Bitch I ain’t Jared.”
During Cardi’s appearance on The Breakfast Club radio show soon after the song’s release, host Charlamagne tha God asked her directly whether she had beef with Minaj. Cardi denied it, saying, “She ain’t never f—ed my man.”
The pair appeared to make nice after “Bodak Yellow” topped the chart, making Cardi the first solo female rapper to do so since Lauryn Hill nearly 20 years earlier. Minaj, who many felt was on track to nab the honor herself, sent Cardi a congratulatory tweet.
If you assumed that having Cardi and Minaj on the same song would squash their rumored feud, then you are sorely mistaken. The track “MotorSport” began as a joint collaboration between the Queen Barbie and Quavo, but then the Offset rapper invited his bandmates and Cardi B into the mix. Minaj took to Twitter and, in a series of since-deleted tweets, insisted that the addition did not go against her wishes, and urged conspiracy theories to “relax” and “breathe.”
Things got messier when it became known that Minaj’s verse was altered prior to release. Cardi admitted as much during an interview Capital Xtra, saying, “When I heard the track, her verse wasn’t finished. It was not the verse that is on right now.”
The line “If Quavo the QB, I’m Nick Lombardi” — a reference to famed football coach Vince Lombardi — was originally “If Cardi the QB, I’m Nick Lombardi.” Minaj later claimed that Cardi’s name was changed at the insistence of her label, Atlantic.
When the big-budget music video dropped weeks later, fans noticed that Minaj and Cardi failed to appear in the same scenes. “We tried to create that moment…you dig?” Quavo insisted during an interview with host Ebro Darden on his Beats 1 radio show.
In a further interview with Ebro the following April, Minaj claimed that a scheduling conflict with her hairdresser prohibited her from attending the video shoot on the same day as Cardi. “You know, if I don’t show up they’re gonna act like I’m doing it to be mean, because of the current Nicki hate train,” she says she told her hair stylist at the time.
The Christmas season seemingly didn’t foster goodwill between the two rap queens. As the Barbz ganged up on Cardi, accusing her of jacking their idol’s style with the music video for “No Limit,” Minaj herself couldn’t resist chiming in.
The feud remained relatively quiet throughout the winter of 2018, but then returned with vengeance following back-to-back interviews on Beats 1. Cardi went first, telling Ebro Darden that there was no bad blood between Minaj and herself.
“I just feel like it’s really internet-made-up,” she said. “I really feel like fans and people, they really want to see that happened, because it’s really entertaining to see people beef. It’s entertaining. Like, I ain’t gonna front, when Nicki and Remy [Ma] was beefing, everyone was tuning and asking, ‘What’s next? What’s next?’…But I don’t really have the time for that. If you not f—ing my man, or if you’re not taking my money from me, if you’re not stopping my money, then I don’t really give a f— about you.”
Minaj followed up several weeks later with a tearful interview with Zayn Lowe, saying that she felt “ambushed” by Cardi B’s comments in the press following the “MotorSport” verse-changing controversy.
“The only thing with Cardi that really, really, really hurt my feelings was the first interview she did after ‘MotorSport’ came out,” she said. “The first interview she did after ‘MotorSport’ came out, it just really hurt me. She looked so aggravated and angry and the only thing she said was, ‘Oh, I didn’t hear that. I didn’t hear that verse.’ I was like, what?”
She continued, saying that many, including those she considers her close friends, declined to come to her defense when she was being portrayed as a villain in the press and on social media. “That really, really hurt me. I really, fully supported [Cardi] and up until this recent interview I did, I had never seen her show me genuine love in an interview and I can imagine how many girls wish they could’ve been on a song with Nicki Minaj.”
Cardi touched on this apparent détente during her appearance on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show.
“I never was feuding with anybody; there was a misunderstanding,” she said. “I think she felt a certain type of way about something. I definitely felt a certain type of way about something. I didn’t wanna ever talk about it in public because I felt like we gonna see each other again and we will talk about it, and it’s always, like, little issues. The thing is, it’s always little issues, but you know, fans are always gonna make it a big thing. I spoke to her about it. I spoke to her at the Met Gala about it, and it’s just like, see? It’s just something that had to be talked about because it was an issue.”
The tables turned in August, as Minaj invited Ebro onto her new show, Queen Radio. The Beats 1 host brought up the Cardi feud (and Remy Ma, but that’s another story), much to the “Chun-Li” rapper’s chagrin. “Can we please move on?” she groaned, before ultimately offering a response. “I didn’t know Cardi and I had an issue. To me, she may have taken an issue with things that I’ve said, but I’m not going to bite my tongue…You gotta have thick skin. People talk s— about me all the time. I don’t go around and tell people to stop posting me because I see one bad thing about myself.”
She continued, “You can’t be expected to be liked and loved and praised all the f—ing time. Give me a break. You coming into the wrong game if you want people to kiss your ass and suck your dick all day, my n—. Like, come on.”
The tough love apparently didn’t go down well with Cardi, who commented on Twitter about being blocked by an unnamed person.
Crafty fans discovered that it did indeed appear that Cardi had been blocked by her rival.
The cold war finally boiled over into an all-out physical assault at Harper’s Bazaar’s ICONS party on Sept. 7.
An insider told PEOPLE that Cardi arrived at the New York Fashion Week event first. After Minaj showed up, there was an “altercation” on the second-floor balcony during a Christina Aguilera performance.
“The scene was f—ing crazy,” the insider tells PEOPLE. “It was entourage against entourage.”
“They had their altercation on the second-floor balcony, right above the red carpet. All of the sudden there was a big commotion and everyone didn’t know what was going on.”
Another source told PEOPLE that “there was tension” between the performers beforehand and that “everyone was waiting for them to meet.”
The source explained, “It all happened 20 seconds after Kelly Rowland left Nicki Minaj — she was in between them.”
While the insider said it initially looked like Cardi and Minaj “might hug it out” inside the party, suddenly “it all went down.”
“Cardi walked towards Nicki and all of a sudden Cardi started screaming something about her child. She was yelling, ‘Bitch you feisty. Bitch don’t talk s— about my child’ at Nicki,” the source recalled about Cardi, who is mom to 8-week-old daughter Kulture Kiari with husband Offset.
The source said that Minaj had eight or nine bodyguards, while Cardi had two people. “There was no chance Cardi could get through, but that didn’t stop her. She kept trying,” the source said. “She threw her shoe because she couldn’t get through, but it only hit one of the bodyguards. It did not hit Nicki Minaj.” (Reps for the rappers did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.)
Immediately following the incident, Cardi was escorted out by security while Minaj stayed inside. Cardi was seen leaving the party with a large lump on her forehead but no shoes.
“She left barefoot with her dress ripped and butt out,” source said. Cardi was wearing a red Dolce & Gabbana gown.
A defiant Minaj, meanwhile, blew kisses to fans (and possibly her haters) as she exited the venue.
Cardi later wrote a long scathing Instagram post which she entitled “PERIOD.” It did not mention Minaj by name, but suggested she had tried to sabotage Cardi’s career and also spoken badly about Kulture Kiari.
“I’ve let a lot of s— slide! I let you sneak diss me, I let you lie on me, I let you attempt to stop my bags, f— up the way I eat! You’ve threaten other artists in the industry, told them if they work with me you’ll stop f—ing with them!! I let you talk big s— about me!!” she wrote.
Minaj declined to press charges but seemingly addressed the fight in a video shared to Instagram, in which she mugs for the camera as her Queen song “Hard White” plays. The track contains lyrics, not captured in the video, that may be about Cardi.
“I ain’t never played a hoe position,” Minaj raps. “I ain’t ever have to strip to get the pole position. Hoes is dissin’? Okay, these hoes is wishin’. You’re in no position to come for O’s position.”
The O references Minaj’s real name Onika, and Cardi has been open about her past as a stripper. In May 2018, Cardi told Cosmopolitan, “People say, ‘Why do you always got to say that you used to be a stripper? We get it.’ Because y’all don’t respect me because of it, and y’all going to respect these strippers from now on.”
On Monday, Minaj addressed the altercation on her Queen Radio show on Apple Music’s Beats 1, according to Pitchfork. “The other night I was part of something so mortifying and so humiliating to go through in front of a bunch upper echelon people who have their life together,” she said. “I was in a Gaultier gown — off the motherf—ing runway — and I could not believe how humiliated we all felt,” she continued.
Minaj also went on to deny that she had ever spoken ill of Cardi’s infant daughter. “I just want people to know that Onika Tanya Maraj has never, will never… speak ill on anyone’s child. I am not a clown. That’s clown s—,” Minaj continued, using her full name.
She also went on to clarify why she waited a few days to speak about the incident. Addressing Cardi, Minaj remarked that since “you knew that when that footage came out, you was about to look f—ing dumb,” Cardi and her publicist “hurried up and put out a statement” right away. “I’m such an ill-ass bitch I didn’t even feel the need to defend myself that night,” Minaj added.