Did Miley Cyrus Stop Appropriating Hip-Hop Culture So Her Little Sister Could Start?

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Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Miley Cyrus graced the cover of Billboard looking, frankly, a lot more wholesome than the world has come to expect. Inside, a country theme dominated, with Cyrus posing in cowboy boots, short-shorts and a neckerchief. In the accompanying interview, Cyrus confirmed that her new look wasn't merely coincidental -- her sound and music tastes have also shifted back to her roots.

"I... love that new Kendrick [Lamar] song [“Humble”]," she said. "'Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.' I love that because it’s not 'Come sit on my d**k, suck on my c**k.' 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 c**k' -- I am so not that.

Oh, what a difference three years makes...

Miley was called out for this swift dismissal of hip-hop culture by a variety of critics, most notably Zeba Blay at Huffington Post. In a piece titled 'Miley Cyrus Discarding Hip-Hop Is The Least Surprising Thing Ever,' Blay wrote: "Cyrus’ new image... serves as a striking example of how easy it is for white artists to exploit and then discard black and hip-hop culture in order to stay relevant... The ease with which Cyrus throws hip-hop under the bus validates every piece of criticism back when she first debuted her hip-hop persona."

Cyrus distancing herself from the hip-hop culture she has been accused of appropriating since her Bangerz album dropped in 2013, coincides quite strikingly with the launch of her little sister, Noah's new pop career. Which, in case you missed last week's MTV Movie Awards, looks like this:


"Stay Together" is an almost carbon copy of Miley's "We Can't Stop" performed by a younger and -- based on those live vocals -- significantly less talented Cyrus. An examination of its official music video only drives the plagiarism home.

Saying rebellious things about substances you're not supposed to use: check! Hip-hop clothes: check! Chunky gold jewelry: check! Token black people: check! Partying until dawn: check!  Gratuitous swimming pool scene: check! The contrived nature of this thing is writ so large, it only serves to present Noah Cyrus as a coattail rider.

Perhaps Miley's collaborations with the Flaming Lips naturally drove her back to more a more organic form of music-making, but the launch of Noah's career as a mini-Miley almost certainly has something to do with Miley's sharp shift in image -- she is clearing the way for her little sister. It's a shame that no one in the Cyrus clan learned anything about cultural appropriation the first time around.