A Timeline of Miley Cyrus Appropriating Hip-Hop Culture
Miley Cyrus may hate on ratchet hip-hop, but that sound helped her gain national acclaim.
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This week, a new interview in Billboardhas Rap Twitter calling bullshit on Miley Cyrus, and for good reason. In the feature, she took some time out to throw shade on hip-hop, saying that while she loves Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" because he's bigging up natural women, she was also glad that "it's not 'Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock.' I can't listen to that anymore."
Which, understandable. Being an old ass man, I'm here for getting misogyny the fuck out of the rap game, and just an overall more conscious balance to what's being promoted on the mainstream side. But Miley, come the fuck on. Just because you're engaged to Thor's brother and are working on some more "rootsy," "political" material for your next project, that doesn't mean you get to act like your most previous incarnation didn't happen. Bangerz wasn't that long ago, and your appropriating of hip-hop culture when it suited your rebellious, outspoken nature is easily Google'd.
Don't believe me? Let's take a look.
Mar. 21, 2013 - Miley posts a video of her twerking in a unicorn onesie
This ridiculous video of Miley Cyrus twerking to "WOP" while rocking a unicorn onesie helped usher in the "new" phenomenon of twerking to white America. Don't believe me? Who else was talking about twerking to fucking Ryan Seacrest on the radio? She was actually adamant about not having this particularly booty-filled dance taken away from her. "Alright, I can’t sing, I can’t act, I’m dumb, I’m a hilbilly, but I can twerk so whatever."
You have to love that when asked to describe what twerking was, she actually told people to go to her Facebook and click it for a "pretty good definition" of what twerking is. Spoiler alert: that isn't a good definition of twerking at all.
June 19, 2013 - Miley rocks gold teeth in "We Can't Stop" video
This video was the culmination of Miley's new image, which she'd been crafting in the build-up of her fourth studio album, Bangerz. The clip has lived in infamy for Miley grabbing a hold to the crunk-y/"ratchet" side of hip-hop to turn heads. Dodai Stewart likened the treatment of the black women who Miley twerked with in the video to "props," which doesn't feel far from the truth.
That's not to say that Miley wasn't influenced by hip-hop at any point in her life; I have no idea what's been on her Spotify playlist. But Rock City, who wrote the song for Miley, went on record saying Miley "was like, 'I want urban, I just want something that just feels Black.'" And what we ended up getting in the "We Can't Stop" video looked and felt exploitative.
In her Billboard piece, Miley did speak out on the controversy surrounding her "having black dancers" becoming "a thing." As she put it, "People said I was taking advantage of black culture, and with Mike [Will Made-It] -- what the fuck? That wasn’t true. Those were the dancers I liked!" Liking the dancers is fine, but it would appear that most people are pissed at the intent behind having said dancers and producers so prominent in your new image at the time.
Mike WiLL Made-It ended up producing seven of Bangerz's 13 tracks, which is a crazy stat to hear in 2017 when Miley's literally quoted as disdaining the "'Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock'" side of rap. During the same year, Mike Will was behind a number of songs in that vein, including Future's "Sh!t" (which features the lines "Pimps up, pimps up, hoes down, hoes down/A pool full of money and I'm 'bout to drown"). Her entire image in 2013 was based on the style of rap that she's specifically hating on in 2017.
Aug. 25, 2013 - Miley twerks on Robin Thicke during the 2013 MTV Music Awards
Just in case you thought Miley wasn't about that twerk life, she showed the world she was by being a part of Robin Thicke's performance. During his "Blurred Lines" bit, she stripped down to a weird looking latex two-piece, touched his crotch with a foam finger, then twerked on him. It was called "raunchy" by some, as well as being deemed a "trainwreck" and "reminiscent of a bad acid trip," but truth be told, it was just a hot mess.
Aug. 26, 2013 - Miley raps about being "high on purp" on Mike Will Made-It's "23"
While we can't tell if Miley (who is apparently "in the club high on purp with some shades on") was actually smoking that gas or just getting gassed up by Juicy J and Mike Will, she tried her hand at rapping on Mike Will's "23." Here's a sample of Miley's verse:
I back it up, cause I don't give a fuck
If you're a lame, that's a shame you can't hang with us
I'm MC Hammer fly, you can't touch
J's so fly I should work at Flight Club
Not sure if this was Miley's life pre-chilling with Mike Will, but whatever works for those clicks.
Aug. 30, 2015 - Miley wears dreadlocks to the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards
You know it's bad when Chance the Rapper calls you out. Because controversy wins, MTV booked Miley to be the worst VMA host in recent memory, and her dreadlock hairstyle was a major fail. There's not even a real reason for her to rock them, unless she was trying to comment on Giuliana Rancic saying that Zendaya's hair must smell like oils and weed.
That night, Nicki Minaj hit Miley Cyrus with the amazing "Miley, What's good?" while accepting her Best Hip-Hop Video VMA; this was a clap at Miley, who threw a shot at Nicki's disgust over "Anaconda" being snubbed for Video of the Year by saying "If you want to make it about race, there's a way you could do that. But don't make it just about yourself." In October of 2015, Nicki dropped a megaton truth bomb on how Miley has used hip-hop culture (especially the more ratchet side) to her advantage:
‘The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.
Growing up is hard, and maybe in the time that Miley's spent out of the spotlight, she's switched her style up, and is looking to take it back to her roots. That's great for her, trust. But to rip on something that she utilized to help her break out of her shell? That was unnecessary, especially given how easy it is to pull up her appropriation receipts.