For as long as she’s been famous, Cardi B has built an aesthetic around the color red – “These is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes,” she raps on “Bodak Yellow” – wearing it on most occasions. She’s also known to flip most words that begin with “C” and replace them with “B” (she dubs herself rap’s “Binderella” on her debut album). These stylistic choices have long invited speculation that Cardi is affiliated with the notorious Blood gang. In her New York cover story, she sidestepped confirmation of any membership, instead saying that everyone will be required to wear red at her wedding, and that she always keeps a weapon on her person when she’s in New York City. (She’s been more direct about her allegiance in response to trolls.) In a new interview for GQ, however, she explains how she became a Blood when she was 16. “They’d say, ‘Yo, you really get it poppin’. You should come home. You should turn Blood.’ And I did. Yes, I did,” she says. “And something that — it’s not like, oh, you leave. You don’t leave.”

Cardi says she never went fully public with her affiliation because it would’ve hurt her chances at a record deal and endorsements, but now feels comfortable speaking freely. She advises kids — especially young girls — not to join: “You could ask any gang member: Being in a gang don’t make you not one dollar. And I know for a fact every gang member, he asking himself, ‘Why did I turn this?’” She claims her active participation has dwindled, and that she only continues to reference the Bloods in her lyrics and on social media because “I been repping it for such a long time.”

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