Miley Cyrus has weathered months of critics saying she has a
confused understanding of culture and race in America. In a new
Rolling Stone cover story, the singer fires back by name-dropping
a handful of black artists she says she knows well: Kanye West,
Pharrell Williams and Lil Kim all make the cut.
The 20-year-old singer (who drinks throughout the article,
including at the Roosevelt Hotel, where a "promoter sends over a
bottle of vodka") shares tales of support from all three
performers. Here's her mention of West, the rapper whose "Black
Skinhead" she is remixing:
Kanye West had seen her rehearsals and wanted to talk to
her before she went onstage. "He came in and goes, 'There
are not a lot of artists I believe in more than you right
now,'" she recalls. "The whole room went quiet. I was like,
'Yo – can you say that again?!'" She laughs. "I just kept
repeating that over and over in my mind, and it made me
After the show, Miley and Kanye met up at a Manhattan
recording studio to work on a remix for his song "Black
Skinhead." The next day he sent a text: "He said, 'I still
can't quit thinking about your performance,'" Miley says.
She also happened to mention that a pair of fur Céline
slippers she'd bought were falling apart, and Kanye bought
her five more pairs. "Kanye is the shit," she says. "I kind
of have a good relationship with him now. It's good to
have someone you can call and be like, 'Yo, do you think I
should wear this?' 'Do you think I should go in the studio
with this guy?' 'Do you think this is cool?' That's what
homies are supposed to do."
And then there's Pharrell Williams, who produced a good amount
of her forthcoming album, "BANGERZ":
On the way back to L.A., Miley's phone buzzes. "This is
why I love Pharrell so much," she says, then reads a text
that he sent her out loud. It's at least 1,000 characters
long; she scrolls forever. "The VMAs was nothing more
than God or the Universe showing you how powerful
anything you do is," he says at one point. "It's like
uranium – it has the power to take over lives or power
entire countries. Now that you've seen your power, master
"You're not a train wreck," he says later. "You're the train
pulling everyone else along."
And, because when Rihanna and/or Nicki Minaj won't play ball,
there's always Lil Kim:so
She checks her phone and reads a text from Lil' Kim out
loud: "My little pumpkin, I just had to tell you you're so
fucking smart. I love you and all the press you are getting.
Sad I didn't run into you at the VMAs. Keep killing it, boo."
Miley laughs. "My little pumpkin!"
The co-signs are important to Cyrus because her performance at
this year's Video Music Awards (where she mimed analingus on a
black dancer, who also appears in the Rolling Stone article) lead
to continued accusations of minstrelsy and cultural
appropriation. Cyrus has made "twerking" a national pastime and
litters the interview with references to other "homies." (Cyrus'
"We Can't Stop" video also featured the singer in a dominant
position over black backup dancers, and she has referred to
"hood music" in the past.)
Cyrus also takes on the minstrelsy criticism straight on in the
cover story by saying she didn't plan to use anyone, but that she
just surrounded herself with her friends in her video.
In any case, the full read over at Rolling Stone is a good one, as
writer Josh Eells tags along for Cyrus' tattoo session (of the words
"Rolling Stone" on her feet), skydiving and the aforementioned
night out in Hollywood. He and Miley are, essentially, about that
life -- if only for the duration of the interview.