Today, on this free day, I would go and get I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and read it, but it doesn’t apply to me. Let’s understand something, America: all vital art of the past 80 years, essentially, has come from, or been strongly influenced by, black people who are caged. Just as this is the case, genius, itself, is a “gnawing,” to use a word from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a torturous streamlining of anachronistic vision that the “insane” dub as foolish, or cannot find the means to express.
Lorde is about as good as a “diva” can get without being a genius, and arguably, at times, Lily Allen is about as bad as one can be while indeed being one. It’s a question of nature and nurture, a prior against a posteriori. Lorde has behaved superlatively well toward honing skills as a pop musician, and she’s clearly got confidence and ambition. She is not a genius, though (which should be obvious from the fact that none of her songs features any instruments other than that cheesy clap and that abominable message to try to get people to fu**), because the artistic abodes she builds for us don’t hark, they don’t echo from a chamber of timeless cosmos, reminding us of what was once the unity of the universe, the way say Lily Allen’s “Smile” did. And yes, she sounded like a black girl on this song, that don’t hurt either.