I make it a general practice not to speak about people’s children. And I’m not going to do it in this post either. But oftentimes, parents put their children in difficult situations, leaving them open for criticism and critique.
Yesterday, Kanye West debuted his Yeezy Season 8 fashion show in Paris. Apparently, as a last-minute decision, the Kardashian-West’s oldest daughter North West decided to perform. She rapped, “I will never do bad things,” and “Cool, cute, cool, cute, yeah,” and “What are those? These are clothes.”
Naturally, video of the young daughter of incredibly rich and famous parents went viral. It was cute.
But it didn’t take long for the internet to recognize the beat in the background and the familiar cadence.
They belong to 5-year-old rapper ZaZa. And when North performed the song and the video started spreading across the internet, people were celebrating North, not recognizing the fact she was rapping over a “borrowed” beat.
It’s a problem.
Kanye West is a whole producer and an incredibly talented one at that. He could have easily crafted a beat for his daughter to rhyme over. Instead, he took one that ZaZa’s dad made for her and used it in a commercial setting. It’s morally, creatively and perhaps even legally wrong as Kanye stands to profit from the use of the song to market his clothing.
The clip of North spread far and wide with people believing it was something of her own creation. But those of us who knew better, mostly Black women, corrected the publications who were spotlighting North without mentioning ZaZa.
Eventually, seeing that folks stateside had spotted the jig, Kim Kardashian hopped on her social accounts to give Zaza the recognition she deserved.
Kim finally acknowledged the originators but this should have been done at the fashion show— so ZaZa’s name could have been spoken on the Parisian stage and included in the original reports about the performance. You can’t help but think that Kim and Kanye thought they could get away with this thievery because they were overseas. But the internet tells all.
I have no idea if they ever planned to speak ZaZa’s name but the internet made it a requirement.
If this were the first time Kim, or anyone in the Kardashian family took something from Black culture and tried to pass it off as their own, perhaps we could excuse this behavior and deem it innocent. But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, the Kardashian empire was built on the backs of Black folks. Black men for relationship and social clout and Black women for style, beauty, and fashion. See exhibits A-E below.
And for all they have amassed, they have yet to deviate from the strategy of stealing.
In fact, this latest stunt leads me to believe that they’re passing this proven method down to the next generation of Kardashian kids. And that’s a damn shame. We should want the next generation to be better than us. Instead, it seems Kim and Kanye are grooming North in the ways of the family business.
To be clear, this is not North’s fault. She’s a child, a Black one in my eyes. She doesn’t know about the importance of giving credit and even compensation when you use someone else’s creations for your benefit and gain. But her parents do…or they should. As a professional in the music industry, who is known for his mastery of samples, Kanye knows the originators have to be consulted, compensated and credited. I don’t know why the rules were different in this case. After North’s performance, he could have easily taken the mic from her and told the audience and the world where the song came from. Kim could have done the same BEFORE she was called out on the internet.
Lord knows I’ve been waiting impatiently for the day when the Kardashian reign is over. But the way the world is so captivated by this family, I don’t know if the end is near. What I do know though is in the next germination of this family dynasty, we’re not going to stand for the continued erasure of Black creatives—and Black women specifically.
You can see how Zaza’s parents responded to all of this below.
Check out more reactions to the whole thing on the following pages.