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“7 Rings” is an ode to economic independence, female friendship, and retail therapy. Since her very public breakup with Pete Davidson, Grande has released a steady stream of empowering, self-love-focused hits, starting with “Thank U, Next.”
In a now-deleted tweet, according to Complex, Princess Nokia (whose real name is Destiny Nicole Frasqueri) pointed out the similarity to her own song, which celebrates the diversity of women of color’s hairstyles.
“Ain’t that the little song I made about brown women and their hair? Hmmmm… sounds about white,” Princess Nokia said in the video.
Indeed, the flow is similar, as are the lyrics. Grande’s version states, “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it/I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it,” while Princess Nokia’s is, ”Flip the weave, I am a stunner/ It’s mine, I bought it/It’s mine, I bought it.”
But then Princess Nokia herself came under fire. Twitter user @producedbykrs pointed out that the beat of “Mine” was actually created by producer Joshua Brennan, better known as Oshi.
— producedbykrs. (@producedbyKrs) January 18, 2019
obviously I don’t own a melody I made, but you can’t call someone out for “biting” when your whole song was built off an imitation of something I made 🙂
— joshua (@oshimakesmusic) January 19, 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
i can’t believe princess nokia is saying ariana stole her song over an extremely generic flow that she wasn’t even the first to do..go listen to kali uchis honey baby then nokia’s orange blossom lol she stole her Whole Fucking Song dude
— ok! (@thedeathtarot) January 18, 2019
Others pointed out that both “Mine” and “7 Rings” owed debts to 2 Chainz’s “Spend It” and “Pretty Boy Swag” by Soulja Boy.
"mine" sound like "spend it." "spend it" sound like flockaveli. i'm not taking a hard stance because i get that there's a deeper complaint about this rollout that i want to hear more about. but in the case of this song, it's pretty rich to claim complete ownership of the concept.
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) January 18, 2019
“7 Rings” also takes melodic inspiration for “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.
As Business Insider reported, some argued that it wasn’t just the flow and the lyrics, but the concept of Grande, who is white, buying hair in a way that’s culturally specific to women of color.
I think ppl's concern here is specific. less about the sonic origins of "spend it"/"mine" & more about the context of Ariana being white & rapping about buying hair and Princess Nokia rapping about buying hair and the policing of+fixation with black and brown image by white ppl
— Ivie Ani (@ivieani) January 18, 2019
To reinforce that point, Princess Nokia posted a video on her Twitter account Saturday, discussing how white women spend millions of dollars to approximate the looks of women of color—looks they once criticized.
“I believe in the preservation of our beauty, culture, narrative and sound and dismantling anything that compromises or dares to interfere in the likeness of our sacred expression,” she captioned the video.
I believe in the preservation of our beauty, culture, narrative and sound and dismantling anything that compromises or dares to interfere in the likeness of our sacred expression- pic.twitter.com/en3PuonGtz
— Princess Nokia (@princessnokia) January 19, 2019
Grande has yet to comment publicly on the controversy.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.