Miley Cyrus's Bangerz dropped yesterday.
Miley's *steeples fingers* interesting relationship with black American culture has gotten a lot of attention over the past few months, as her Mike Will-produced "We Can't Stop" climbed the charts. (We've touched on this a few times.) It's also been noted that Miley is bringing (a particular conception of) black art to the forefront to attain the highest levels of popular success at a time when a lot of artists—from Robin Thicke to Justin Bieber—are caucasian. Which has led to a lot of questions about appropriation.
After hearing Miley's album, it's tough to say that it's any more derivative of other artists than would be true of white pop stars as a whole. Her awkward relationship with blackness seems more about marketing—random asides in her lyrics ("bout that life"??) or her videos, rather than the sonic blueprint of, say, Juicy J records. ("23," the most hip-hop song she's released, is actually going on Mike Will's album.) Instead, it's a reasonably diverse pop record, one with its fair share of ups and downs. Mike Will's contributions tend to find him stretching away from the kind of beats he's made for rappers in the past. (The strongest tracks tend to be the most traditional—songs like breakup anthem "Maybe You're Right.")
Of course, that isn't to say that her record doesn't have some debts. There are definitely moments where you can point to the direct influence of other performers. (It is also, it should be noted, a definite post-Rihanna pop album.) So we decided to take a look at Bangerz and peel back the layers to reveal the record's musical DNA. If you like this Miley Cyrus song, you'll love....