Are You Really ‘Bout That Life? Miley Cyrus’ Foray Into Black Culture

June 14, 2013  |  

You know what they say, when all else fails in your career, tap into black culture and you’ll be right back on top. It worked for Elvis, why not? And apparently that’s the type of stuff Miley Cyrus is on these days. I know you’ve noticed it. For some time now, Miley has been trying to break out of the Disney star box. And the latest strategy to leave little Hannah Montana behind is to be as close to the edgy black girl as she can. Let’s explore Miley’s interesting journey into blackness.

First there was “Party In the USA” in 2009 which worked for Miley. It was a huge hit and I know personally it was my jam. Though the lyrics were a bit misleading. In one of the verses, she says “… and a Jay-Z song was on.” But when a journalist asked her which Jay-Z song inspired the lyrics, a 16 year old Miley Cyrus kept it real.

“I’ve never heard a Jay-Z song. I don’t listen to pop music. Honestly, I picked that song because I needed something to go with my clothing line. I didn’t write it and … I didn’t expect it to be popular, originally. It was just something that I wanted to do, and I needed some songs and it turned out for the best.”

Though it would have been a good idea for Miley to do a bit of research, I genuinely appreciated the honesty. Jay-Z wasn’t her cup of tea and she wasn’t about to lie about being in touch with black culture to appear “in the know.” Respect.

Shortly after that there was “Can’t Be Tamed” in which the eagerness to break out of the good girl mold made people give her the ultimate side eye. The song wasn’t all that bad, it was just too over the top, too dark too desperate. Word on the street is no one was checking for it. So Miley had to come up with something else, something to let people know she was grown but was still hip and relevant.

What to do, what to do?

And this is where black people come into the equation. From the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2013, Miley was photographed with every famous black person who left their house during that time period. There was Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, K Michelle and a handful of others. If you don’t believe me, we did a 15 page slideshow of all the black folk Miley started running with. (No, Jay-Z didn’t make the list this time around but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.)

And even though pictures are worth a thousand words, Miley didn’t stop there. Just this past Spring, she dropped the twerk video seen around the world. It was cute. Miley was working with a little something. And it provided a nice little laugh for a few weeks. But I think Miley took it a bit more seriously than the rest of us. Instead of viewing it as a joke, I think Miley looked at it like it was a career strategy.

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  • FuckYouVeryMuch

    Not even just that, but you really have OLD pictures of her in your slide-show. AND I MEAN REALLY OLD. But yet, her interest in “Black culture” JUST begun? Not to mention, just because she doesn’t listen to Jay-Z or POP music, doesn’t mean she doesn’t like RAP or HIP-HOP.

  • Anonymous

    love this article

  • GuestHost

    Well … there is also blame to share … The rappers for instance … These damn rappers need to share in the overexposure and overestimation of this girl. For a while you couldn’t listen to a rap song that didn’t pump Miley’s nuts up. That was all they talked about … ex…”Miley Cyrus, call me when you get 18.” The helped with that ish!

  • wikkiwikki

    Teach them black culture. People don’t imitate other people cause they think their stupid. They imitate to be like someone or some thing. Oh well…. Some people accept change and others will never be able to embrace it.

  • BlackWomanInAmeriKKKa

    I don’t consider this to be Black Culture! More like Hip Hop and Rap Culture or whatever. “Twerking” is actually an African dance of a different name beginning with the letter M. I do not “twerk” or anything. I listen to Country music and Death Metal. I am a Black Woman, and that is NOT BLACK CULTURE. This article is PURE IGNORANCE!!

  • shyguy571

    who wrote this article? my guess is some 20 something who never saw elvis or really ever listened to his music as it progressed! To infer elvis switched to black music because his career never took off is just showing that this person needs to find a new career because he is woefully lacking in any knowledge of rock and roll!

    • Milan Mccandle

      Everything Elvis did from the beginning was heavily ripped off from black musicians.

  • hateallyawant

    Yeah sort of like if I embraced the New Black Panthers they wouldn’t say they were multicultural either.

  • Disgusted

    smh. racism at it’s finest! This is why it’s so hard for people to get past the divide…people.

  • Disgusted

    smh. racism at it’s finest! This is why it’s so hard for people to get past the divide…people.

  • Jessica Allen

    whatever this is stupid who wrote this article? did a black person write this article? twearking is not black culture..and there are black rappers who rap about being poor and whatever when they grew up rich and know nothing about the streets what about that??

  • excellent article.

  • Pingback: Trending: Twerking | holistic hummingbird()

  • BlackGrad

    I personally like this article. We are so ready to let outsiders come into our culture and “down” with both the favorable and non favorable aspects of black America. It’s sickening sometimes, coming from a huge melting pot, it’s amazing to see how other cultures have language, food, rituals, religion, dress, music etc, that tie them together and exclude others.. all while participating in “black culture”……….


    Blacks don’t exclude anyone from what little cultural identifiers we have and find ourselves hard pressed to participate in other cultures………..

    I think it’s time we start practicing more exclusivity, whether the good or the bad…………

    • WheelsGoRound

      WE on the other side of the tracks also let outsiders into our culture… You know with reading & writing , music , technology, etc. etc. & on & on… But this twerking , I mean now that’s a real accomplishment …. It must rank up there with ,(lets see } Oh yea, dry humping or maybe leg humping if you happen to have 4 legs… Boy, you sure got something to be exclusive about for real… Now you can give up all the other cultures thousands of years of knowledge and studies and just twerk.. Twerk in the closet and you won’t have to worry that someone else will try it ..Come on please , some people can never be satisfied .. I hope you can get over your insecurities and enjoy all the world has to offer.. Not just the black world or white, green or Asian whatever.. The whole world .. When in Rome enjoy Rome, when at Kilimanjaro enjoy the view and culture…

  • Abraham

    Stop hating Madamenoire, Miley is like most girls in America, black or white, who love hip hop and want to be be involved in it. Black women may just be threatened by her rise, simmer down.

  • smoothlilee

    Whether yal “toms” on here talkin bout twerkin is not part of black culture wanna believe it or not…IT IS! Black ppl started it and its a part of hip hop culture, which was started by blacks. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Twerking is dancing, simple as that! Nothing to b ashamed of… yal act lyk twerking is so disgusting on here talkin bout “it’s not my culture! ” I think the point of the article was just to make us think bout how all of a sudden white artists (Justin bieber, miley cirus) are using and exploiting these images originally associated with hip hop/black culture to further their careers when 2 sec ago they didn’t even know Wat hip hop was! And bcuz of their white privilege, they can get away with doin stuff blacks been doin 4 ever and put it on the map…I thought the article made a good point.

    • Lisa

      Twerking is disgusting. I don’t care if it’s part of black culture, but I don’t like it. Do you have a problem with that?

  • scandalous7

    her and Justin Bieber need to be kidnapped and taken to the hood like Malibus Most Wanted….shyts getting annoying quite frankly.

  • LMJ82

    Great Article!

  • HipHopTV

    It’s just music. Stop trying to shackle the creative arts. Not comparing, but go back to great artists like Ray Charles and others before and after him. They all experimented in all types of music from all genres. Black hip hop artists have been incorporating crossover (white) styles since the beginning of hip hop. My black people need to stop putting a ceiling on creativity unless everything will sound like it’s from atlanta…Oh it already does…too late!

  • lol

    who cares, we dot want her in our culture anyway, and why do white girls always toot their flat bootys up in the air.. that picture of her is not cute at all!

  • xedos

    Just watch, all these people who are praising miley for twerking will be the same ones calling rhanna a ho when the pour it up video comes out, yet i haven’t seen anyone call Miley a ho yet.

    • miley ho bo

      MILEY IS A HO…

  • TruthHurts

    i dont think this article is ignorant for three reasons:
    1) this IS a part of black culture–particularly black YOUTH. we can turn the other cheek and act like the majority of those twerk videos aren’t young black girls and teens if we want to, but we would just be ignoring the obvious. I’m not too full of pride to admit where twerking, “ratchet”, grillz, and the like came from.
    2) I checked out the slideshow linked to this article–the girl is seriously pushing up on any black “rapper” with a chain and a single out.
    3) i appreciate what the article is really about. I’m less offended by the article than I am the person inspiring it. miley must have excellent PR people. she is tapping into what’s hot right now, and it just so happens to be the worst black culture has to offer. i bet all they did was watch VH1 to get inspired–Lord knows their programming’s been garbage and portrays blacks horribly ever since Flavor Flav

  • Latte

    *sigh* (It’s always the…., self righteous black folk). I will claim every realm of being black, unfortunately yes, some behaviors are likely to come from blacks and I will own that because I know that there is a time and a place for everything and not every aspect has to be ignorant. Do we hear whites talking about their women in a negative way when we see two or 3 straight white girls dancing and grinding on each other, no they call it “fun”. It’s no different than Italian Americans with big, bravado attitudes & personalities claiming “Well I’m Italian and we do such, such and such or talk a such, such of way, or we don’t play that.” I have several Italian friends and every other sentence I hear “Well I’m Italian so…….” I will claim “twerking” as apart of MY black culture because I mean, where else did it come from?? And I will also say that like “Italian Americans” and some other races & cultures we have a certain way of doing things or acting but who gives the right to down it, when other races are the same exact way or behave in similar ways but when it comes to blacks there’s a negative connotation with it. I mean has anyone seen MobWives or Jersey Shore?? Certain words, phrases, looks and speech are of blacks and we all know that to be true and it always doesn’t have to be negative and that’s why I can totally relate to this post.

    • BlackGrad


    • Lisa

      “Do we hear whites talking about their women in a negative way when we
      see two or 3 straight white girls dancing and grinding on each other, no
      they call it “fun”.” Yes, yes I have heard white people call their people slutz when they do that.

  • Nehes Ba’a Rayay

    she’s about to start getting that African American money in a lil bit. #helpfreemalachiyork

  • 1Val

    Wherever twerking came from please send it back there! Absolutely vulgar “dance”. Miley Cyrus like so many other untalented white female celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, late Anna Nicole Smith, Farrah Abrahm, use whorish behaviors to enrich their purses. Only white slores can become respectable celebrity millionaires.

    • butshesmixed

      But kim isn’t white…….. her father was middle eastern… she’s a straight mutt.

  • Tehani

    Black men and boys will be the ones accepting her…

  • Same story, Different day. When a black woman does it, suddenly it’s degrading and disrespectful, but when she released the video of her twerking in a onesie suddenly it’s cute. Give me a break. This girl didn’t know a Jay-Z song but wants to twerk at a rap concert. Miley along with many white people, like to take tidbits of different cultures because its “cute” and “fun” but are not interested in what it really means to be apart of that culture, neither do they care to do any REAL research.

    • Ms. B.

      Sadly the same thing happened in the 60’s & 70’s with whites trying to imitate the parts of black culture they considered “glamorous”, but let a black family try to
      H- move in next door—“Uh, that’s not what I meant—-!!”

  • law101

    What was the point of this article? There’s nothing wrong with Miley trying new things. I do not believe this is extremely forced and exploitative as you say. No twerking is not a new dance but it is something that this new generation has brought back. Just like everything else that’s coming back as new.. Get over it! Hopefully, your next article will be about something that’s more important.

    • Indubitous

      The problem is Miley sailing in on her white privilege sailboat and trying to be down with all of the “glamorous” (as far as they’re concerned) parts of being black without even HAVING to understand the reality that is being a black person in this country, all because she’s white. We can’t make it that easy for them… otherwise they’ll just continue to mock everything black people represent/create/cherish as their own.

      • Dan

        Can you explain white privilege to me? I took a class on it in college and it totally seems like hater BS. Are there any arguments that can be made that don’t come off like, “well you have it better than me so you’re wrong…”? Is there Asian privilege? They make more money per capita than whites……

        • Indubitous

          So you took an entire class and still need an explanation? Did you sleep through the entire thing? Nah, I’m kidding. It’s completely possible that the class was badly taught, idk…

          But it sounds like your mind is pretty much made up so I’m not going to expend much energy trying to educate you… if you want to learn what it really is, research it. To start you off, I recommend a youtube vid of Dr. Francis Cress Welsing entitled “Psychological Slavery by Francis Cress Welsing” (if her first words in the vid are ‘we have been deceived’ then you’ve got the right one). In my opinion she provides the most logical, least “you have it better than me, wahh” as you would describe it, explanation to white privilege/supremacy (they are synonymous.) It’s not about money… it’s about resources and power. And in my opinion, about sociopathy. LOL.

          Anyway, should you choose to not spend a few minutes of your day researching what the opposing viewpoint on white privilege/supremacy is, then I hope you at least understand that that happens to be white privilege at work. Continuing on… turning a blind eye to this reality because you can… see? Your first lesson in white privilege.

          Good luck.

  • IllyPhilly

    Yo, y’all back covering this broad MN? SMH y’all love y’all some white girls.

  • EnuffSaid

    The funny thing is…….All the Rappers and Black Artist she’s hanging out with will up her creds and do nothing for theirs.

  • FromUR2UB

    Rihanna’s music is an example what sounds black and urban now? Wow. How far we’ve come. Or strayed?

  • Abbas BAKER

    You can not make hip-hop a black-only domain. As stupid as it is, it has been embraced by all ethnicities around the world. That means hip-hop has grown to become a universal culture, not only a black culture. So, no wonder if a white girl like Miley forays into what you call black culture.

  • Mel

    It’s quite annoying that Black people can be doing their own thing (no matter how ratchet and vulgar, like twerking) and mainstream White culture completely ignores it. Yet once one of their ‘stars’ do it, its automatically legitimized.

    Miley is just using these sizzurped up fools as a stepping stone. I remember Lil Kim dropping her name in an article a long time ago about how ‘real’ and ‘down’ she is, just because she started smoking some we.ed and acting out a stereotype. No Kim, you’re just out there on the periphery starving for some relevance and she sidled up to you for a little ‘street cred’. I doubt Miley takes any of these people seriously, this is just a lark for her while she tries to stumble upon an image that will yield a hit for her.

    She’ll be fully grafted into the country scene a decade from now, yet Lenny Kravitz was practically booed from the CMA Fest stage & Darius Rucker seems barely tolerated, no matter how white his wife or his band pedigree is.

    • wikkiwikki

      “this is just a lark for her while she tries to stumble upon an image that will yield a hit for her.”

      Really? Then there’s Dante Terrell Smith. Who truthfully confuses me. His image changed to yield a big hit.
      Dante Terrell Smith to Mos Def, which he retired the name because he felt it was being treated as a brand and not as him. To his name now Yasiin Bey. Yasiin Bey is his muslim name. Talk about taking from other cultures. He has blamed the decline of hip hop largely on the white man (as he said.) Yet he continues to work on hip hop albums with white artists, Gorillaz. Confusing much? He made his official name switch During a season of Dexter, where he is credited for 2 episodes as Mos Def and then 3 more episodes as Yasiin Bey.

      Now, I am not trying to start a pissing contest with you but everyone is looking to someone else for inspiration and ideas. If you stick with in your own circle, culture or even country, you will never grow as an artist or individual. There are many things blacks start first that other cultures dip their mitts into. There are also many other cultures that do something first that black people embrace and end up doing way better. The easiest thing for you to do right now would be to grow up.

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  • NJ2

    Why do we care when a white person imitates anything associated with black culture or even the hip hop culture? We seem like Sally Field,”you like me; you really like me”, when we feel validated by their attention.

    • Samantha

      I do care when ‘black culture’ is somehow used as a means to publicly shake off a good girl image. It is short-sighted and implies that we are one homogenous group with an entirely degraded culture. Moreover, it is condescending. Another of many, many examples where ‘black culture’ is used as a means to an end. When these people are done with their faux interest in the black community and go back to default, it is us who are left with the negative label.

      • j a sassy

        that’s why whites should stay doing their own damn rachet crap!

        • wikkiwikki

          Jealous much? That is the mentality that makes you look hateful towards any other race.

      • wikkiwikki

        While your point is valid. Do you really want to have the stigma of twerking as a black thing only? It seems to me that the youth is what is making twerking as popular as it is, and it is by and large not a black only thing any more. Been on youtube lately? For every black girl twerk video on there, you will find at least 3 other videos of girls who are twerking and aren’t black. Mexican white, germans, russians, indians, chinese, and Japanese twerkers all exist.

  • Realityh03$Anonymous….ohwait

    Bet by the end of summer she gone be signed to Young Money…

    • prettyredbone

      Foreal I put money on that

    • IllyPhilly

      Bwhahaha! Of course!

    • wikkiwikki

      She’ll walk down the aisle’s of big events alongside lil wayne and beiber.

  • boldenough

    That was twerking? I thought she was throwing out her back…

    • IllyPhilly


    • wikkiwikki

      You made me chuckle.

  • Melody Carroll

    miley is not about that life in black culture no way and she don’t know how to twerk I don’t know why people act like she does epic fail everytime

  • Halfpint6484

    You said, “After Miley’s twerk video, mainstream news outlets like ABC’s “Today Show” were calling twerking, a dance that’s old as time in black culture, a new craze. Please.” Exactly! I was just talking about that with some of my co-workers the other day. Twerking is something that WE started way back in the day. It’s nothing new! You hit it right on the nose Veronica!

  • bigdede

    I don’t consider Miley twerking and carrying on “Black culture”. Well at least that’s not my culture. It’s part of the ratchetness of Hip Hop that she has adopted.

    • Layla

      Thank you! I will never claim Twerking as my culture. I think this was just an ignorant article. Miley is just getting into the ratchet culture.

      • Realityh03$Anonymous….ohwait

        and she gone ride it out til the wheels are ground down to the hub caps! i wish that would hurry up n happen …

      • Africanpride

        This article is not only ignorant but rather shows a lot of low self esteem among black people. An irresponsible young white girl acting out now equates to adopting black culture? Just like how ignorant people want to claim Justin Bieber’s behavior is because of the black people around him. Really? Oh, I recently started taking piano classes and don’t know how to twerk, I guess, I’m picking up white culture. Madamnoire, please do yourself a favor and never write such a stupid article ever again.

        • monitorette

          That’s exactly what i thought reading it. A stupid article from a arrow minded person.

          • monitorette

            sorry I meant narrow minded

    • Cha Cha

      I was just about to say this same thing… so, twerking and “dropping it like it’s hot” is black culture? … Call me when she starts hanging out with Cornel West, joins the civil rights movement or gives “power to the people”… until then, she just shaking her askidentals and being ratchet for the world to see.

      • thegoodluckpig

        i’m with you butttt i’m giving the cornel west plug a side eye he doesnt have the full support of the black community

    • Trisha_B

      When the video of her twerking in that onsie came out, you black blogs loved it! You guys were bigging her up, saying how cute it was, & blah blah blah. All while turning your nose up & sh*t talking the black women who twerk. Well this is the result of it. Some black people seem to give white people a pass for their ratchet behavior, but then judge black people who behave that way. Now that Miley is taking it too far, black people want to claim it now. Last year the twerk team was disgusting for doing such dance, but since Miley did it everybody is all like “that dance belongs to us black people, that dance is from our african ancestors. If you aren’t black you don’t understand our ancestors dance…” like what? :/ Do you honestly believe strippers twerking saying “one time for our african ancestors!” NO! Same when a white person talks w/ ebonics (i.e Iggy Azelia), black people are like “ewww why she trying to talk black.” I’m like uh she’s not talking black, she’s talking ghetto. I’m black & don’t talk like that lol. Idk why black people want to say OUR culture. Uh no it’s not. I’m black & it’s not my culture. It’s my entertainment, but i don’t act ratchet. If that’s your culture, do you boo. But don’t speak for me please lol

      • Taj

        Thank you !! I sometimes cringe when people use the phrase that a person needs to “act like they are black” because he/she almost always ties it to ratchet behavior.

      • MLS2698

        I didn’t have a problem with the video because it wasn’t vulgar. But some other videos have women twerking 100 mph on trash cans, cars, tabletops, and anywhere they can pop it. And this style of dance was not originally done in that manner; it’s just the women who want to display themselves as sex-objects who are looking for extra attention. Miley did the video, and now she should leave it alone, not go sticking her pint-sized booty out everywhere for people to see. I’m not against the twerk, but just how they werk. But this is coming from a person who has never tried it…..

      • lol

        I agree n any body can be rachet.. in fact I see a ot of white rachet girls han black.. I don’t claim twerking as a culture , although black girls started it and white girls copied,, my thing is WH do white people talk bad about blacks and turn around and copy!? why talk bad about a race when you oing th same thing!

        • wikkiwikki

          Anthony Johnson started what most blacks hate white people for. Like twerking started by black people imitated by white people. Give her a break. People emulate everyone. Ever look at japanese culture? They emulate the world and then some.

    • MLS2698

      Did the article say she wants to FEEL something black, or am I confused? *SARCASM *

    • Stop The Ratchet!

      AMEN!!! PREACH!!! She is just like every other white artist. From Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis to Justin Timberlake. They use black musci, producers, writers, and artists to help further their careers but they want to keep their white privilege too. What this trailer park trashy girl is doing has NOTHING to do with “Black Culture”. We need to stop co-signing with trash. It does nothing but bring us down!

      • realist

        What exactly the f**k is “white privilege”? Oddly enough, whites can’t get into college with scholarships because of their skin color, or get jobs through ‘affirmative action’, or have a White History Month, or anything else. It isn’t the 1950s anymore, put your victim mentality aside and grow up.

        • wikkiwikki

          You have stated the most real comment I have read so far. As far as I am concerned haven’t we all been breeding heavily with other cultures rather then within our own now, for quite some time? Blights, Wexicans, Blapanese, Blaxicans, Whitanese, and so forth and so forth.

      • Fladabosco

        Uh huh. And every black person with a big voice is using opera culture. Every black artists who uses music is using Western European culture. If it wasn’t for Bach, major and minor would only be types of lips.

        Pianos? Northern Europe. Synthesizers and electric keyboards? I know some of the old white dudes who invented those here in California.

        Pop artists try to create music that will sell to the most people. If it wasn’t for white culture you never would have heard of Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, Roberta Flack, Jay Z, Run DMC, Usher or any of the rest of them. Black artists would still be stuck in dingy smoky nightclubs.

        If anything white European culture has educated you (kind of), fed, clothed and housed you and brought you up.

        You may not like many of things white people have done or even like our culture but to denigrate it and claim it brings you down is – well, ludicrous!

      • wikkiwikki

        So you are telling me there is special privileges associated with being black? I think there are special privileges with being an individual. But if you wanna go that route do your history. Anthony Johnson.

    • Dee

      I guess there is a difference between “Black Culture” and “Hip Hop/Ratchet Culture”. The author should have clarified the difference

      • wikkiwikki

        You are very right. Culture is not heritage. Culture is what you choose to surround your self in. Heritage is who you are. I live a mixed american culture. I have an anglo saxon heritage. I wish others would educate themselves as you have. It would put a huge end to people thinking of themselves as the victim and could help people, see people as individuals not a person of a certain color (be it white black red yellow blue) that has to be of that culture. By the way there really are blue people.