New Criticals

The song is at its best when, in between its chorus, Lorde talks about wealth and privilege – “I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh / I’m not proud of my address / That kind of luxe just ain’t for us / We didn’t come from money.” When what is excessively communicated are particular markers of extreme wealth, how do those without them navigate that sphere? What about people that resist an imposed desire for them? Those interesting pieces, though, get murky when we ask ourselves who she is addressing. Whose love affair is she not caught up in?

Rap is dominant culture right now, so even if her markers of decadence and conspicuous consumption weren’t specifically and (almost) exclusively embedded in the dialect of rap culture, the feeling still would be hard to shake that we know who she’s talking about. The fact remains, however, that gold teeth, Cristal, Maybachs, and “diamonds on [a] timepiece” are signifiers of hip-hop and, by extension, of a highly visible and prominent segment of (mostly) black culture.