In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
It’s impossible to get two clicks into the Internet without running into another cover of Lorde’s smash hit “Royals,” a song everyone’s already drooled over. But hip-hop songwriter, producer, rapper, and all-around thinkfluencer T-Pain released his own cover of “Royals,” featuring rapper Young Cash, and they rewrote some crucial lyrics to make it, well, a song that means something else entirely.
T-Pain’s signature Auto-Tuned sound blurs some of the opening lyrics, and there are no official liner notes of the cover. But the hook is pretty clear:
Seems like yesterday we was drinking Crown Royal
We ain't really give a fuck
Now they try to hate on us
And I just party on my bus
Let me see you get loose, girl
Everything is on me
So, nigga, come through
Let me live that fantasy
Did T-Pain rewrite Lorde’s “Royals” to be a song about unabashed excess? Apparently—but in a way that sounds more about pride and less about rolling around in money. Still, it’s a snarky response to a song that indicts, among other things, the culture of hedonism attached to hip-hop stardom. And T-Pain’s clever use of rhythm and pacing lets him “cover” the song in a casual listen—“We was drinking Crown Royal” hits the verse right when Lorde’s “And we’ll never be royals” would—while offering his own take on the high life.
Young Cash’s second verse is, to date, untranscribed on the Internet (which, come on people, get on that). But in that verse, instead of “Seems like yesterday we was drinking Crown Royal,” it’s “most niggas aren’t royals,” adding thereafter “my dawg came back for me.” There is a different story being told here, but it’s just as interesting.
T-Pain still can’t sing, though. Long live Auto-Tune!