Lorde, a white, 16-year-old New Zealand singer, currently has a chart-topping single called “Royals,” that one popular blogger is calling racially insensitive.
The feminist writer Veronica Bayetti Flores, who writes for the blog Feministing, believes the following Lorde lyrics are “deeply racist”:
My friends and I – we’ve cracked the code.
We count our dollars on the train to the party.
And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this,
We didn’t come from money.
But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom.
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair
In her post, Flores, who is not African-American, slams Lorde, (whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor), for using the song to criticize black and hip-hop culture.
“While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist,” writes Bayetti Flores. “Because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal (champagne) and Maybachs. So why sh*t on black folks? Why sh*t on rappers?”
To each her own, but Flores’ logic shows that she might be the one who’s culturally tone deaf.
The last time I checked, hip-hop is enjoyed by people of all races and backgrounds. Hip-hop originally wasn’t a genre that was embraced by the mainstream, but to dismiss its impact on pop music today would be asinine.
By now, we all know Miley Cyrus likes to twerk.
Ten years ago, Justin Timberlake was beatboxing at the Video Music Awards, while Michael Jackson was breakdancing.
Even Madonna was recently seen wearing a gold-plated grill in her mouth.
In a recent interview with NPR, Lorde broke down the meaning of her “Royals” lyrics. While she does love hip-hop and pop music, she believes both genres glorify wealth to such an extreme extent, the lifestyle they present seems unattainable to their fans.
“I was just sort of reeling off some of the things which are commonly mentioned in hip-hop and the Top 40,” she said. “I’ve always loved hip-hop, but as a fan of hip-hop, I’ve always had to kind of suspend disbelief because, obviously, I don’t have a Bentley. There’s a distance between that and the life I have with my friends going to parties and getting public transport and doing the things that every other teenager does.”
Flores should take a step back in her critique of a New Zealand teenager who’s grown up in the current hip-pop space. Old stereotypes of black people singularly talking about “bling” and rims are no longer relevant. It’s a pointless discussion that has no place when hip-hop culture comes in all shades.
Do you think Lorde’s “Royals” is racist? Let us know what you think in the comments below.