By: Leeann Williams
Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings music video recently started some controversy over whether the music was stolen from Princess Nokia’s “Mine,” and Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag.” 2 Chainz also called her out on using the pink trap house visual and the similarities with his song “Spend it.”
The video had a lot of Japanese cultural references in it such as the Japanese characters at the beginning of the video, on the wine bottles and the cat figurines. The whole video is giving off a Kawaii style for aesthetic purposes. Fans are speculating if this was cultural appropriation. One could argue that it is appreciation since Ariana has a genuine interest in the culture and wasn’t mocking it in the video.
Ariana has also been under fire for her over tanning and use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Ariana, as we all know, is Italian-American. Fans have created this joke where they call her a Black queen. Patti Labelle calling her a “little White Black girl” at the Billboard Music Awards was the comment that took it over the top.
Ariana may not be changing her accent to a “blaccent” or skin complexion on purpose, however, it could be a way to look and sound more racially ambiguous to attract wider audiences. Moving away from the pop and R&B genre to trap in 7 Rings is another way of doing that.
R&B and Hip-hop are not limited to Black people. The problem only arises when artists exploit Black artists and appropriate Black culture. White artists get close to Black artists to appeal to Black audiences and essentially making money off Black culture.
Bhad Bhabie for example aka the Cash Me Ousside girl, was made famous by acting like a ghetto Black stereotype. She took that opportunity at fame to make rap music, then collaborated with Black artists like Ty Dolla $ign. This led up to her getting nominated for Billboard’s Top Rap Female Artist next to Cardi B and Nicki Minaj.
Fifty years from now, the face of hip-hop and R&B might not be Black anymore. It has happened before with Blues and Rock & Roll Genre when artists like Elvis Presley stole music from Black musicians, got all the praise for it and never gave those musicians credit.
This is why we need to start addressing the cultural appropriation we see to give Black artists the credit they deserve. Although it is true that we are influenced by people around us, we would like to see some original ideas in 2019.
Do you think Ariana Grande is appropriating Black culture? Let us know in the comments.