When Ariana Grande dropped “7 Rings” at the end of last month, what should have been a triumphant reveal of her final Thank U, Next single before the album’s release became a tangled online debate about attribution and appreciation. She was accused of duplicating the song’s content, flow, and video concept from Black and Latinx hip-hop artists, including Princess Nokia, Soulja Boy, and 2 Chainz, who was later added to the song’s remix. Now, the song’s co-writers have weighed in on the controversy, defending it from those accusations and denying that they intended to copy or disrespect anyone’s style.
Tayla Parx, one of the song’s credited writers, told Vulture: “We’re at a time in music where all of these lines are being blurred. Now we’re able to break through what we thought hip-hop music was or pop music was and kind of ignore all of those. (Ariana’s) allowed to fuse everything. I think it’s important. It’s important to fuse all of these things to really bring us together, so we can look left and right at these award shows and see different kinds of artists.”
Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Njomza also responded to the accusations in an interview with NPR, saying, “There’s always going to be an issue with something, no matter what the whole situation is. I feel someone’s gonna find something wrong with something. And I’m just gonna leave that at that. I know I like it but I don’t really remember that day, we were drunk. … I don’t really remember who exactly brought that flow on. But I mean, once the flow was there, nobody was mad at it.”
While Ariana later apologized for the controversy, the backlash didn’t stop “7 Rings” from topping the Hot 100 chart, or Ariana’s album, Thank U, Next from dominating the discussion with its oblique references to Mac Miller and multifaceted production. Ariana may not ever really get to “release music like a rapper” as she once said, but it looks like she’ll be just fine, even without showing off the contents of her rhyme book.