The conversation about Miley Cyrus and the appropriation of Black culture goes back quite a ways. (See: that twerking routine, those dreadlocks, and that unceremonious adoption of ratchet culture, for starters.) The criticism has died down lately, mostly because Cyrus seems to have backed off of borrowing from the culture of Black artists. But the debate flared up this week when Cyrus' comments on her decision to move away from using hip-hop sparked accusations of hypocrisy and exploitation.
In her new cover story with Billboard, Cyrus mentioned the new Kendrick Lamar song "Humble" while talking about her musical influences. "'Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks,'" she said, quoting the track. "I love that because it’s not 'Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock.' I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much 'Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock' — I am so not that."
While to some people that might sound simply like Cyrus stating her tastes, to others, it reeks of privilege, ignorance, and exploitation of a culture that often gets ripped off, with little credit. Displeased reactions started pouring in on Twitter almost immediately, with people accusing the 24-year-old of using hip-hop culture for her personal gain and then discarding it at her convenience just as thoughtlessly — when it was never hers to begin with.
"Miley Cyrus profitited [sic] off hip hop and then threw it under the bus. And you wonder why old heads talk about protecting the culture," one person tweeted. "Hip-Hop is misogynistic 'now' but Hip-Hop wasn't misogynistic when you was tryna make a 'Trap' album Miley Cyrus lol," wrote someone else. "Just bc she was 'exploring her sound' or doesn't like the oversexualization of women in music doesn't mean she appropriated any less... Kendrick is still hip hop. You don't get to give the conveniant [sic] parts of our culture a pass and ignore the rest," added a critic. Another jab: "Ironically, Miley Cyrus is pulling a 'that's why you ugly, anyway!' on hip-hop after spending years trying to get its approval." Somebody else called her hypocritical: "first shes hanging out with rappers and making songs now she wants to demonize hip hop gtfoh."
You have to wonder if Nicki Minaj has read the Billboard piece in question. Back in 2015, Cyrus and Minaj got into a spat after Cyrus criticized how the rapper talked about Taylor Swift. "The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls," she told The New York Times Magazine. "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?" She continued, "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."
Regardless of whether Cyrus wants to know that not, people are telling her. See some of the best tweets taking Cyrus to task, below.