Princess Nokia may have gotten a little more discussion about creative rights than she bargained for when she called out Ariana Grande’s “7 rings” last week. After Nokia claimed the pop star took more than just inspiration from the rapper’s “Mine” off her influential 2017 mixtape 1992, producers KRS and Oshi jumped in to suggest that the beat for “Mine” wasn’t a Nokia original either.
— producedbykrs. (@producedbyKrs) January 18, 2019
the point was that she made a video claiming ariana bit her style not realising that she was being a hypocrite bc someone remade my sample in her own song, idc about being paid for it or being credited for it, just the principle https://t.co/1dQwc8ReL5
— joshua (@oshimakesmusic) January 19, 2019
The internet also dug up the receipts pertaining to Nokia’s “Orange Blossom,” a 2015 track that bears more than a passing resemblance to Kali Uchis’ 2013 “Honey Baby.” Nokia had previously deleted the “Orange Blossom” video entirely, but someone re-uploaded it with an alternative title if you want to catch the clip.
Not just that: she even stole one of Kali Uchis track pic.twitter.com/bk3AXo51pW
— SLACKIN' (@ElvisSuljevic) January 18, 2019
Princess Nokia’s team declined request for comment, while KRS and representatives for Kali Uchis had not responded by the time of publication. Remezcla will update this post if there are any developments.
There is no denying that it is all but industry standard for mainstream artists to cop everything from auditory stylings to aesthetic inspiration from underground creatives — and that the crime becomes all the more heinous when it entails white artists stealing from artists of color. But Nokia’s complex role as both artistic source material and sampler herself does underline the fact that in today’s music industry, there is very little that is new under the sonic sun.
For further proof, one may turn to this listener’s tweet, which traced the beat of “7 Rings” (which currently hovering around 51 million YouTube views) back through hip-hop history.
ariana grande-7 rings (2019)
princess nokia-mine (2016)
asap rocky-praise da lord(2018)
2 chainz-spend it (2011)
soulja boy-pretty boy swag(2010)
all sound similar, flow is kinda common and people are getting mad about copying when all the music we heard is never 100% original pic.twitter.com/qtRCiUacrq
— (@CandeCucci) January 18, 2019
That Twitter user is not the only one who heard the link to “Pretty Boy Swag.” On Saturday, Soulja Boy tweeted a series of three curt responses to Grande.
You’re a thief https://t.co/PyVaP69Jzu
— Soulja Boy (Young Drako) (@souljaboy) January 19, 2019
He encountered little argument; eventually, “7 rings” songwriter Lashaun Ellis promptly tweeted that “7 rings” was in fact an homage to “Pretty Boy Swag.”
I just wanna keep it real with y’all, I WROTE 7 RINGS by @ArianaGrande and YES I was inspired by @souljaboy ‘s pretty boy swag record, isn’t it obvious?? I was paying homage to the goat tho, wasn’t trying to steal anybody’s swag.
— Lashaun Ellis (@LashaunEllis) January 19, 2019
Grande herself has stayed silent on the charges of artistic appropriation, but did wade into an entirely different “7 rings” controversy when people questioned the white singer’s “weave” reference in the song. On The Shade Room’s Instagram profile, Grande apologized for her response to a listener’s concern about the pop star’s discussion of black hair culture.