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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