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 not nervous."
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 it."
"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:
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.