As The #Twerk Turns: The Business Behind Miley’s Quest for the Hood Pass

Mita Carriman Music/Entertainment attorney, empress of contracts, Okayplayer contributer. @mitacarriman


While Justin Timberlake, Eminem and Robin Thicke are examples of musicians that have been able to successfully capture the so-called “hood pass” with an authentic and engaged demographic of fans in urban markets, the continuing controversy behind Miley Cyrus‘ performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards hasn’t stopped her from making it rain dollars business-wise. reported that Cyrus’s VMA performance drove over 300,000 tweets per minute and suggested that her foam fingered twerk-a-thon performance with Robin Thicke and a host of stuffed animals was the latest version of the sex-tape approach to fame that has helped to elevate other stars such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. It has also been reported that Cyrus’s new song “Wrecking Ball” premiered on iTunes as a pre-sale the night before the VMA’s and moved between 80,000 to 90,000 copies in less than two full days on sale.

Yesterday another new Cyrus track featuring Justin Bieber and Lil Twist entitled “Twerk” allegedly “leaked” to the internet, leading #TWERK to become a top trending hashtag on Twitter US with top tweets referring specifically to Miley’s new “#Twerk” song. The Guardian has quoted the release of the new song as having “brilliant or terrible” timing.  Essentially, the controversy has turned into a cash machine for Cyrus.

Historically it’s no secret that “sex” sells but let’s face it, so does “ratchet” culture. We all remember how quickly Antwon Dodson capitalized on selling t-shirts, ring tones and halloween costumes following his infamous ‘hide your kids, hide your wife’ debacle? We also know that there are sites out there that are constructed specifically to celebrate ratchet culture. We all know more than a few people addicted to them. Cyrus’s winning combination “sex” and “ratchet” as marketing tools is a potent business strategy that comes with tough implications for the effect it has on culture.

While many people have been left upset and disturbed by Cyrus’ recent behavior, we also have to consider that she is only 20 years old and might have had good (distorted?) intentions to pay homage to artists she admires. In fact, earlier this summer she provided a quote to the press in which she stated that she, feels she was Lil Kim in a past life.  There are probably other girls out there right now around age 20 or younger that are twerking out to music in their undies in the privacy of their bedroom and throwing their hands up in the air for the so-called gangster life. Miley Cyrus just only had a public stage to do it on.

While its safe to say that the hood has yet to issue Miley her “pass,” (except for maybe from Snoop?), one thing everyone can agree on is that there’s def more than a few blurred lines involved when musicians purposefully use controversy – twerking especially – as a means to boost marketing or to get those hood daps. Listen to “#Twerk” from Lil Twist featuring Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber below. Add your two cents to the discussion in the comments below.

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