T-Pain Did Not Get the Concept of "Royals"
Yet, what's interesting about the arguments presented about the racism of Lorde's "Royals" is the disregard of how widely consumed and deeply embedded hip-hop has become in the mainstream. Those tropes can be seen throughout most of Top 40 music, and even the musical aesthetic has been appropriated by numerous artists.
Just last year, both Katy Perry and Lady Gaga dabbled in trap beats for their albums and Miley Cyrus' own infatuation with the genre became one of the most highly publicized and controversial entertainment stories of this past summer and fall. Even Lorde has cited the very artists she found irrelevant to her lifestyle as inspirations and favorites. So for a teenage New Zealander looking at American culture and music from afar, those lines between racially coded hip-hop culture and the pop mainstream have been blurred. In fact, they create a new hegemony and mode to oppose.
In a way, T-Pain kind of comes in like a cultural dinosaur, covering the music of a kid who is probably LOL-ing at his entire steez. It's like the Rolling Stones testing out punk in the late-70s -- still entirely dissociated but a lot less successful. Maybe our ability to laugh at the "Royals" reversal is the sign of an anti-luxury shift and a return to the early incarnations of hip-hop less focused on listing a bunch of things an artist owns, in a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" kind of way. Or maybe T-Pain would have better luck sticking to his original stuff instead of covering a song he is clearly the wrong audience for.