(AP) From Kanye to Pharrell, rap stars embrace Cyrus
By MESFIN FEKADU
AP Music Writer
While Miley Cyrus has a batch of critics, there is a group rallying behind her and praising her as a vital talent: rappers.
Pharrell produced several songs on Cyrus’ new album. She has been featured on the latest albums from Snoop Lion and will.i.am. Big Sean requested her as the star of his “Fire” music video. And to top it off, Kanye West invited her to appear on the remix to “Black Skinhead,” his anti-racism rant from his eerie and dark “Yeezus” album.
Cyrus’ album “Bangerz,” out Tuesday, features guest spots from Big Sean, Nelly, Future and French Montana. In an interview, Juicy J called the 20-year-old “a genius.” 50 Cent, who hasn’t yet worked with her, added that Cyrus “can be on anything hip-hop orientated because (she’s) rebellious.”
The idea of the former “Hannah Montana” star becoming a muse for rap stars seems odd to some, but Mike WiLL Made-It, who executive produced “Bangerz,” said the singer has struck a chord with rappers because she isn’t following in the footsteps of pop stars like Katy Perry but creating her own bold path.
Others aren’t sure if talent is the reason behind it.
Cyrus, who will host and perform on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” this week, has been the girl of the moment for months now. It started with her transformation from teen queen to twerk queen, rising with her edgy “We Can’t Stop” party-style music video. Of course, she hit new heights (or to some, new depths) with her eye-popping, sexually charged MTV Video Music Awards performance in August. It featured the scantily dressed singer twerking, gyrating on Robin Thicke and what’s become her signature move–sticking out her tongue.
The wild child antics–from being nude in the music video for her first No. 1 hit, “Wrecking Ball,” to her embrace of drug culture in a recent Rolling Stone interview–have made headlines. But her VMA performance and twerking with black female dancers caused another stir, with many questioning if Cyrus is wrongfully appropriating black culture as a path to success.
Murray, who said she and other editors at Essence discussed Cyrus after her VMA performance, echoed the producer’s thoughts.
But while the star is a product of hip-hop culture, “Bangerz” is far from a hip-hop album. The 13-track set has moments that are downbeat, others are up-tempo dance numbers and electronic. It also features Britney Spears and production and songwriting work from pop master Dr. Luke.
While Cyrus has her rap cheerleaders, not everyone has embraced her. When asked about Cyrus’ high profile rap collaborations, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson jumped in with: “Or the idea of Miley using us as accessories? I don’t know.”
AP Entertainment Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.
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