ok off top i like lorde and i like “royals”. lorde is really talented, “royals” is a great, genre-bending anthem (by a girl!), picking up a torch nobody’s really touched since “paper planes”.
when prince william got married, my dad and i were talking about modern royalty and he said he thought the british court was worth whatever the country spent on it. he felt it made the country run better because by having royalty personify the government, the actual legislature got less attention as personalities and could focus on governance. for example, he thought clinton never would have been impeached if there had been american royalty to act as a sort of tabloid lightning rod. it wasn’t a great argument but it was some interesting shit to think about.
but i pointed out to him that american royalty goes against the entire idea of america. we have a black president. it took a long time to get a black president and we’re a long way from proper racial representation, but the fact remains anyone can be elected to office. the same isn’t true for royalty. until we blow out the atmosphere with nuclear weapons and have to evolve darker skin to survive, there will never be a black king of england.
and that’s precisely why “royals” is low-key racist. you can’t use rap wealth signifiers to talk about any kind of european royalty because rappers are de facto banned from that club. even if “royals” is about lorde coming to terms with being poor in a materialistic culture, she’s missing the point. rappers aren’t shallow and materialistic, they’re a triumph against centuries of institutional racism.
the subtext of every rap song about being rich is “fuck you america/white people/hundreds of years of imperialism, i’m rich!”
the subtext of every rap song about being young and successful and positive is “i believe in myself whether or not america/white people/hundreds of years of imperialism thinks i can do anything with my life!”
so unless lorde is maori, she’s missing the point.
like i said on twitter, in a perfect world, lorde would remake “royals” with wall street jargon replacing all the faux-rap materialism. (kanye actually did this with “diamonds” when he learned more about the diamond trade and sierre leone specifically!)
i’m not calling for her head or a boycott or any kind of action. again, i like the song and i like her. i just want people to acknowledge these issues and i want people to think about shit like this when they hear “royals” or “thrift shop” or any other kind of music or art that has racial subtext.
(edit: kinda written in response to this. had a long argument w its author on twitter but he deleted his entire side of it tho.)