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There's no denying Cardi B is a triple threat.

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From releasing hit after hit to influencing her millions of followers with her eye-catching glam, the 28-year-old superstar is constantly raising the bar. But despite her popularity in music and fashion, the "Press" rapper recently opened up about the "prejudice" she's felt in both industries.

Speaking to Mariah Carey for Interview magazine's March issue, Cardi detailed her experiences, explaining, "I don't know if I would use the word 'racism' because everything is so technical right now. I have felt prejudice."

"I have been involved in endorsement deals, and then I found out that certain white people got more money for their deals from the same company," she shared. "I do my research. I know how much money I made [from] that company. My fans buy my s--t. So it's like, 'When you're not paying me what you're paying these other people, why is that?' It's kind of insulting."

Cardi B's Most Daring Looks of All Time

While Cardi didn't disclose which brand paid her less than her white colleagues, she has worked with many companies, including Fashion Nova, Steve Madden, Balenciaga, Amazon, Pepsi and, most recently, Reebok.

The Bronx native noted that "hip-hop is a big influence" on the fashion industry. "And yet," she continued, "Black artists have the hardest time getting pulls from designers and the hardest time getting seats at their fashion shows."

She added they also "barely get endorsed by big fashion brands that we literally make trend."

© Timothy Kuratek /CBS Timothy Kuratek /CBS

Just four months ago, the "Be Careful" rapper defended her collection of designer handbags—most notably, her many Hermès Birkin bags—after a tweet went viral for criticizing Black women for purchasing luxury items, horribly suggesting they "depreciate the value of a Hermés Birkin bag."

"Why is it that y'all asking female rappers if they could get a bag from the Hermès store?" Cardi fired back in an Instagram video last October. "Y'all don't do this to these white celebrities... So why is it that y'all gotta be asking us."

"Another thing is that they're saying that we depreciate the value," she continued. "Actually, we add value because in hip-hop, when we mention brands in hip-hop, they s--t go up."

In fact, Cardi pointed out that when she mentioned Balenciaga in her chart-topping tune "I Like It" with Bad Bunny and J Balvin, their sales increased.

"They s--t went up, too," she explained, "and that's why they worked with me this year.

© Provided by E! Getty Images

During the interview, Mariah agreed with Cardi's statements and said that she's felt "the same way" too.

"I have it a different way because people don't know how to categorize me sometimes, and that sucks," the Butterfly singer shared. "But I think people should listen to the words you say because you're saying it from firsthand experience. You've gotten less than other artists who are not artists of color, and yet your influence has been way broader. So let's fix that."

Mariah then asked Cardi if they can "do a song together," to which she replied, "I would love that. I would love to do a record that touches souls. You had me heartbroken when I was 11 years old and I didn't even have a boyfriend."

You can read Cardi's full interview here.

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South Korean Tech Firms Shake up Japan's Storied Manga Industry

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) - Two South Korean technology companies are borrowing from mobile gaming to shake up - and dominate - Japan's storied manga industry, a plot twist that has expanded the comics' fanbase to a new generation of readers.

Backed by tech giants Kakao Corp and Naver Corp, Piccoma and Line Manga have become Japan's highest-grossing mobile apps outside games. Such online manga platforms have seen a surge in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Piccoma's third-quarter transaction volumes more than tripled year on year to 11.6 billion yen ($110 million), extending a wave of online manga sales that has already seen digital surpass print in Japan's $5 billion manga industry.

Line Manga, now operated by SoftBank's internet business Z Holdings, saw transaction volumes jump by a third to 8.2 billion yen in the same period. Naver declined an interview request.

Piccoma passed Line Manga to become last year's top-grossing manga app on both Apple's IoS and Android. Its rise can be traced back to 2016, when it introduced a revenue model it calls "zero yen if you wait."

The app's manga tales - from classroom love stories to supernatural horror - are serialized. Users must wait for a timer to unlock the next instalment, or pay to read ahead.

Inspired by smartphone games in which playing is free but extra content is not, the approach marked a radical departure from the typical model of selling an entire manga volume up front at prices of $4-$6.

"We thought if we could grab 5% or 10% of the bigger games market it would drive growth," said Yukiko Sugiyama, senior manager in Kakao Japan's business strategy department.

Readers, eager to find out what happens next, often end up paying. The business model has become standard as dozens of book sellers, tech companies and publishers rushed to offer their own apps.


Megumi, a 34-year-old office worker in western Japan, said she reads 20 pages or so of manga on her phone during her lunch break, and turned to the two apps when stuck at home taking care of kids during last year's pandemic state of emergency.

She became "addicted" to and paid for a hit Line Manga series, "True Beauty", about a young woman whose makeup skills make her popular with men.

The strip originated in Korea, where the rise of the internet saw paper sales collapse, replaced by smartphone-optimised comics.

Manga apps offer a vast back catalogue of titles and exclusive strips.

"You can read manga carrying just your smartphone - it's handy," said Kana Misaki, a 36-year-old care worker living near Tokyo who reads manga "overwhelmingly" via apps.

In Japan, online manga is generally still formatted like a book, and traditional publishers are a powerful force, with editors closely involved in each stage of production.

Printed in black and white on cheap paper, paper manga remains affordable and disposable. The industry is protected under Japanese law from books being sold for less than their cover price, even online.

"For new titles, paper sales are much higher," said Shu Hashimoto, an editor at publisher Kodansha's long-running Weekly Shonen Magazine.

Even the most ardent app users say they will buy paper editions of their favourite titles.

"You don't know when titles will disappear from the apps, so when I want them close at hand I buy them," Misaki said.

($1 = 103.6900 yen)

(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Yuki Nitta; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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