As the legendary Ms Patti Labelle presented the Billboard Woman of the Year Award to Ariana Grande late last year, she referred to Grande as “that little white black girl” – a statement that was met with a resounding “yasss” from black Twitter stans who were already way ahead of the soul icon.
Numerous memes and in-jokes about Grande now belonging to the black community had been circulating for a while, but it was only a matter of time before the masses turned on her. Her pop-trap anthem “7 Rings” has all the braggadociousness of your favourite trap rapper and seems to emulate the hip hop sound of the moment.
This isn’t helped by the pink trap house in her music video as well as accusations of appropriation via blackface (aided by the circulation of images of a much pastier Grande from her humble beginnings on Nickelodeon’s Victorious).
The backlash was inevitable, but in a world where hip hop is now the most popular genre and BVE (black vernacular English) is being used by lucrative brands and companies, should we be surprised that black is becoming the new mainstream? Or are we still battling cultural appropriation under new guises?
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