Months of marital drama between two of pop music’s biggest personalities exploded into public view at the Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles on Saturday.
For megastar Cardi B, the evening was supposed to be a milestone. Taking the stage at Banc of California Stadium, she was the first woman to headline what’s promoted as the world’s largest hip-hop festival. But as the Bronx artist began rolling into a set list of her record-smashing hits, the concert was interrupted. Signs reading “TAKE ME BACK, CARDI" were pushed onto the stage. According to video captured on Saturday, Migos rapper Offset, Cardi B’s estranged husband and father of their 5-month-old daughter, walked onstage with a microphone and flowers.
The crowd cheered and gasped. The couple had split publicly earlier this month. Now, he was asking for forgiveness.
“I just want to tell you I’m sorry, girl,” the rapper told Cardi B as she slightly shook her head. “In person, in front of the world. I love you. Whatever I’ve got to do.”
After a few exchanges between the two, Offset left the stage and Cardi B continued her set.
“Don’t take him back!” concert attendees screamed amid boos. “Once a cheater always a cheater!”
The exchange set off a volcanic eruption of online comments, particularly from Cardi B fans. They argued that Offset crashing the Rolling Loud stage followed a common misogynistic routine: When a woman reaches a career high, a man is there to snatch the spotlight.
“Tonight should have been about Cardi *headlining* the Rolling Loud festival,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Instead it’s all about what this dude did & how she reacted. No convos about her performance. In fact, it’s stealing thunder even from other performers tonight. That’s selfish AF. That’s manipulation.”
“What Offset is doing to Cardi is abusive,” another added. “I don’t think it’s cute at all. Stop glorifying toxic men.”
Outside of Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Cardi B and Offset — born Belcalis Almanzar, 26, and Kiari Kendrell Cephus, 27, respectively — were hip-hop’s most celebrated fairy-tale couple. But the relationship also was shadowed by the usual tabloid fodder — infidelity, rumored splits, a surprise pregnancy. The couple met in early 2017, and their first date was a trip to the Super Bowl, according to Rolling Stone. Although the pair continued to be regularly spotted together, they both denied a relationship. In October 2017, she officially acknowledged the bond, stating “I really loveeeee my man,” on Twitter. “He was gifted to me from Jesus.”
That month, Offset surprised Cardi B with a $500,000 engagement ring while they were both onstage in Philadelphia, Billboard reported. She said yes.
But rumors about Offset’s infidelities spoiled the matrimonial harmony. Cardi B began addressing the rumors in interviews and on social media.
“Why is it a problem that I want to take my time with a decision on my relationship?” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet from January, Billboard reported. “Why do I have to explain myself? I don’t ask ya why you still with that man that lives with his mom, that don’t pay your bills. … Since when you guys had perfect relationship?"
In April, Cardi B played “Saturday Night Live,” an occasion where she showed off a ballooning belly for the first time, confirming she and Offset were expecting. Two months later, she jumped on Twitter to reveal the couple had actually already wed. “At least ya can stop saying i had a baby out of wedlock,” she wrote. The baby — Kulture — arrived in July.
In early December, Cardi B announced the couple had split in an Instagram post that has since been deleted, explaining they “just grew out of love,” New York magazine’s the Cut reported at the time.
Offset’s public apology on Saturday has only reignited interest in the breakup — and set Cardi B’s fans against him.
“This isn’t cute,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “This public campaign is actually classic harassment. Women are always expected to do the emotional labor of men, no matter how badly they are betrayed or hurt.”
Another added: “I have had someone follow me around making grand public displays after I broke up with him. It isn’t cute. It feels unsafe. And that stage is her job. You don’t harass people at work.”
Rolling Loud organizers have maintained they were not involved in Saturday’s surprise apology. “Headliners and their teams have full control of the stage and who is allowed on it during their set at Rolling Loud,” festival co-founder Tariq Cherif said in a sta tement. “The festival does not interfere with or influence a headliner’s set list. We have never and will never do anything to change a headliner’s set.”
As the backlash against Offset continued to boil over, the most notable person to step up to defend the rapper was actually Cardi B. Following the concert, she posted two Instagram videos asking her fans to lower the heat on their anger at Offset.
"Guys, I just want to say thank you so much for everyone that’s been supporting me,” she said. “Violating my baby’s father is not going to make me feel any better, because at the end of the day, that’s still family. Unfortunately we going through things, and it’s not private, it became public. And I just want things to die down.”
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