Last night Ariana Grande dropped her highly anticipated new single "7 Rings" and its music video. For stans, the song is a glorious triumph about retail therapy, frienship, and all that post-breakup glam. Meanwhile other listeners were left wondering...Ari, wyd?
One of those listeners is Princess Nokia, who called out Grande directly on Twitter while drawing comparisons between her 2017 track "Mine" and the new single. Check out the post below:
In the video, Nokia plays Grande's track before playing her own. The similarities are there. Not only is the cadence familiar, but the subject matter sounds appropriated as well. "Ain't that the little song I made about brown women and their hair?" Nokia says. "Sounds about white.”
"Sounds about white" is Nokia's way of pointing out that Grande, a white Italian woman, is treading into spaces created by women of color. The rapper's song "Mine" is all about WOC and their relationship to their hair, whether it's purchased or natural. Nokia raps, "It's mine, I bought it" during the chorus of "Mine," emphasizing the ownership WOC have over their beauty, and the respect that should be shown to it (i.e. don't touch my hair).
On "7 Rings" Grande sings, "You like my hair? Gee thanks, just bought it." You can hear the similarities.
Nokia also retweeted a few posts calling out Grande, one saying she "cosplays people of color and specifically black women I’m over her tbh." Some people are comparing the song to the same kind of culture vulture tactics as Miley Cyrus, while others simply say the song sounds forced.
This story is bigger than Nokia and Grande, though. The song has also been compared to Soulja Boy's "Pretty Boy Swag," and Dani Leigh's "The Plan," which presents a larger question about what kind of sound and image is Grande trying to get across here.
For the past few months, conversations have popped up about Grande's trap-influenced records, and more notably, her extremely tan skin. Some outlets have accused the singer of using "brownface," and some listeners have only recently realized Grande is white.
It's worth noting several of Grande's writers are black women, and some of the writers on "7 Rings" specifically are black women. But Grande is not black, so we do need to investigate what lines are being crossed. Proximity doesn't grant non-black POC or white people the right to appropriate culture/vernacular. Grande may be everyone's favorite pop superstar of 2018, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't be held accountable for the images and the language she is profiting off of.
Grande hasn't responded to Nokia, or the backlash, but tweeted this: