Two years after Miley Cyrus tried out a more stripped-back, traditional pop-rock record with Younger Now (perhaps her own attempt at doing a Joanne, which I'll forever defend as one of Lady Gaga's strongest moves), it seems the 26-year-old star has discovered she likes hip-hop again.
She Is Coming is the first of three EPs that will make up one full-length album later this year named She Is Miley Cyrus. The eclectic record finds Cyrus darting between pop and hip-hop, and the EP's best tracks sit within the former genre. It's when Cyrus tries rapping that the record flails, which begs the question of why she's still co-opting hip-hop in her music a good six years after she was very publicly slammed for cultural appropriation.
I'll address the worst first: Cattitude, featuring RuPaul, is the kind of rap track that aims for bonkers brilliance and falls way too short, landing instead as a poorly constructed, badly performed song that's rather difficult to listen to. It sounds as though Cyrus is trying to emulate some of M.I.A's buzzier songs, but Cattitude lacks M.I.A's relentless energy and innovative production. It feels like Cyrus is throwing R-rated lines over nursery-rhyme templates: "I love my pussy/that means I got cattitude". RuPaul's verses are completely forgettable.
But elsewhere, Cyrus uses trap production and her extraordinary voice to push her sound in more memorable directions. Opener Mother's Daughter is a battle cry that kicks things off with a powerful beat and a catchy chorus hook. On Unholy, Cyrus kicks back at the way the media slammed her for doing exactly what kids all around the world were also doing: "I'ma get high as hell/I'm a little bit unholy/So what? So is everyone else." Later, she ingeniously recruits Swae Lee and Mike WiLL Made-It on Party Up The Street, a spacy tropical house jam that revels in the simple joy of letting a night unfold with a chosen few. If Cyrus keeps things heading in this direction, She Is Miley Cyrus will make for an intriguing pop record. Let's hope Cattitude was a red herring.
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Miley Cyrus, She Is Coming
Artist: Miley Cyrus
Album: She Is Coming
Label: RCA Records
Verdict: An often great, sometimes terrible mix of trap, hip-hop and pop