A Deeper Look Into Miley's New 'Urban' Image

Miley Cyrus's (poorly titled) new album Bangerz is set to drop soon, much to Miley Cyrus's excitement. Cyrus's music — which used to be pop with a sprinkle of country thrown in, a total reflection of Cyrus's own past — is now shifting toward a more "urban" sound. The "urban" sound means that her new album will feature guest spots from rappers like Big Sean and Ludacris. But it's not just Miley's own album where she is trying something new — in fact, it's Miley herself who will be guesting on a new track, and, get this: Miley is the guest rapper.

While Miley Cyrus appears to be about as skilled a rapper as Kristen Stewart would be as a toothpaste spokesperson, Cyrus is getting the chance to show off her chops as a guest on the remix of French Montana's song "Ain't Worried 'Bout Nothin'". Cyrus is so proud of her work on the track that she leaked an iPhone video of her track.

After Cyrus released the video of her new guest spot on "Ain't Worried 'Bout Nothin'", Cyrus was met with some comments that she felt warranted a response. Though she didn't specify who the tweet was referring to, it appears that many people are questioning Cyrus's image, believing that she's "acting black". She responded to these anonymous comments with: "I know what color my skin is you can stop with the friendly reminders bitch".

Miley's rapping has brought up yet another issue with Miley's new image and its relationship with race. Miley's entire new look, attitude, and, yes, "urban sound" has come under fire from fans and critics alike. Cyrus has been accused of exploiting black culture and being racially insensitive.

First, it was the twerking. Twerking — a term that refers to shaking one's butt, literally — has roots in West African dance. The dance modernized and came to New Orleans in the '90s, where twerking groups were first popularized. And then, somewhere along the line, Miley Cyrus crowned herself Queen of the Twerk, posting videos and tweeting incessantly about the dance move. Miley Cyrus doesn't have roots in the same culture as twerking, and some people believed that Cyrus was exploiting the move in order to gain "street cred" and to separate herself from her bubblegum-pop image. In fact, Jay-Z called out Miley Cyrus' moves in his song "Somewhere in America" ("Somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerkin'"), and later tweeted that Cyrus was "the old world's worst nightmare".

Then there's the controversy over her "We Can't Stop" video. In the video, Miley goofs around with her friends — all young, white, skinny and beautiful. Yet in the mix of this bizarre video Cyrus is also seen with a group of black women — dancing, twerking, and "shaking it like we're in a strip club". In the group of friends, there isn't much racial diversity. These women don't read as part of Cyrus' group of friends ... they read as mere props.

Cyrus attempts to adopt specific elements of black culture in order to separate herself from her former image. Yet, in doing so, she accessorizes her videos with black people, borrows words like "ratchet" — which originated in poor, urban environments, something that Cyrus could not be more separate from — and models her image after this idea of a "ghetto fabulous" persona. Cyrus is perpetuating certain ideas about race — that a white girl can step into the shoes of a black person for the sake of fashion and image. In fact, Cyrus even told producers to give her new music a "black sound."

But while Cyrus may assume she's being a respectful fan, she's doing more harm than good.