November 29, 2018 at 12:00 PM EST

By April, Cardi B had already had a pretty stellar year. The former Love & Hip Hop: New York star kicked off 2018 as a guest on Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” remix and by Jan. 17 had surpassed Beyoncé to become the first woman to have five top 10 singles simultaneously on the Billboard Hot R&B/ Hip-Hop chart — including the monster hit “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves).”

But despite her successes, the 26-year-old Bronx native (born Belcalis Almánzar to a Dominican father and Trinidadian mother) admits her stomach was in knots in the days leading up to the April 6 release of her debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy.

“The whole week passing I was going crazy,” she says. “Just overthinking, like, ‘Am I going to sell? Am I going to do good? I hope I do good.’”

Spoiler alert: She did great.

Jora Frantzis for EW

Privacy is now certified double platinum and sits on many publications’ lists of best albums of the year (including EW’s), and her single “I Like It” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. In August, Cardi became the first female rapper to ever unseat herself atop the Billboard Radio Songs chart when “I Like It” was supplanted by her Maroon 5 collaboration “Girls Like You” — which stayed at No. 1 for a staggering 16 weeks.

Whether it was debuting her baby bump while performing on Saturday Night Live, charming America as guest cohost on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, revealing she’d secretly married Offset (a.k.a. Kiari Cephus, of the hip-hop trio Migos) last year, or making headlines for her ongoing feud with Nicki Minaj, Cardi became a full-on pop culture phenomenon. Okuuurrrr?

Jora Frantzis for EW

Cardi says her “best memory” of the past year is giving birth to her first child, daughter Kulture Kiari, on July 10. But her professional highlight was performing at the American Music Awards on Oct. 9.

“It was my first big performance on television after giving birth, and I just wanted people to see that I’m working my ass off,” the rapper explains of performing in a skintight bedazzled leotard and thigh-high, high-heeled boots. “The rehearsals were long days and I had bruises on my body, but it came out so perfect. It was worth it.” Now Cardi is setting her sights on conquering 2019. She’s heard Mariah Carey might be interested in collaborating, which she kind of can’t believe.

“I’m looking forward to doing anything and everything that I could possibly take on,” says Cardi, who’s started a vision board of future goals. “The only thing that’ll stop me right now is time.”

—Reporting by Bill G. Grandberg

For more on Cardi B and Entertainment Weekly‘s 2018 Entertainers of the Year, pick up the new issue when it hits stands on Friday, or buy it now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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