Published Oct 10, 2013New Zealand teen Lorde released her debut album, Pure Heroine, a couple of weeks ago, and this has meant that she has been getting a hell of a lot of attention. Unfortunately for the 16-year-old singer, this attention isn't entirely positive, since she's been accused of racism over the lyrics from her hit "Royals."
The song is about anti-consumerism, but the blog Feministing posted a scathing critique entitled "Wow, that Lorde song Royals is racist."
In the post, writer Verónica Bayetti Flores takes exception with Lorde's portrayal of wealth, claiming that is relies on stereotypes about black people and hip-hop culture. The lyrics in question include lines like, "But every song's like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin' in the bathroom" and "But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece."
Flores writes, "While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist. Because we all know who she's thinking when we're talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs. So why shit on black folks? Why shit on rappers? Why aren't we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East? Why not take to task the bankers and old-money folks who actually have a hand in perpetuating and increasing wealth inequality? I'm gonna take a guess: racism."
The story has since been picked up by major news outlets like CNN, Time and CBS.
We'll leave it up to the listener to decide whether or not these lyrics are racist, although we should point out that Lorde's line about gold teeth and Grey Goose is about her inability to relate to contemporary popular music that glorifies wealth.
Lorde previously told NPR, "I was just sort of reeling off some of the things which are commonly mentioned in hip-hop and the Top 40. I did get a little ridiculous on it, but the sentiment's there. 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."
Listen to the song below.