They keep us underground working hard for the greedy
But when it's time pay they turn around and call us needy

from Janelle Monae (Ft. Erykah Badu) – Q.U.E.E.N. Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

This line references the situation of the working class: workers must work to build up the wealth of their bosses and often are not paid enough to meet their needs. When workers demand more from their exploiters, they are accused of being “needy” and asking for handouts.

Monae is making an analogy between this situation and that of independent artists, whose creativity is exploited by big media corporations.

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