Cardi B opened the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at New York City's Radio City Music Hall with an outfit change and a pink bundle in her arms

By Karen Mizoguchi
August 20, 2018 11:15 PM
MTV

Cardi B‘s fans have been anxiously awaiting baby Kulture Kiari big debut!

The rapper, 25, opened the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Monday by kicking off the show with an outfit change (in custom red Azzi & Osta) and a pink bundle in her arms.

“I got a little surprise for you,” she teased.

While Cardi B appeared to be holding her 5-week-old daughter, the star actually had a Moon Person wrapped up in the pink blanket. (Before the show, she already won her first award for song of the summer.)

Her return to the stage marks her first public event since welcoming her daughter with husband Offset on July 10.

“I’m the Empress. The liberals voted for me. It’s a full house, everybody’s here! No wonder my internet is slow I got no service,” she said.

Later in the night, Cardi took home the Moon Person for best new artist and best collaboration with Jennifer Lopez and DJ Khlaed for “Dinero.”

“I’m so happy to receive this award,” the triumphant rapper said as she clutched her best new artist statuette. “A couple of months ago a lot of people were saying, ‘You’re gambling your career! You’re about to have a baby, what are you doing?’ And you know, I carried the baby, I had the baby, and now I’m still winning awards!”

Check out PEOPLE’s full MTV VMAs coverage to get the latest news on one of music’s biggest nights.

Cardi B’s decision to hit the stage comes three weeks after she pulled out of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour to focus on spending time with her baby girl.

“I thought that after giving birth to my daughter that 6 weeks would be enough time for me to recover mentally and physically,” she wrote on Instagram July 26. “I also thought that I’d be able to bring her with me on tour, but I think I underestimated this whole mommy thing. Not only am I just not ready physically, I’m not ready to leave my baby behind since the doctors explained it’s not healthy for her to be on the road.”

Replacing her on the tour are Charlie Wilson, Ella Mai and Boyz II Men, as well as Ciara who will be on Mars’ tour finale.

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The VMAs red carpet was also Cardi B’s first event appearance as a mom.

Dressed in an eggplant-colored velvet Nicolas Jebran dress featuring an asymmetrical thigh-high hemline and cleavage-baring neckline, the mom of one completed her look with matching sandals, dangling emerald earrings and a short black pixie hairdo.

Cardi B leads the nominations at the star-studded soirée with 10 nods, including artist of the year and best hip hop.

Her “Finesse” remix with Mars is also up for a handful awards including best collaboration and best choreography.

The MTV VMAs are broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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