It looks like pop’s favorite cultural appropriator is going to have to defend herself sooner or later in court.
Flourgon, a Jamaican dancehall artist legally known as Michael May, has sued Miley Cyrus and Sony Music to the tune of $300 million for copyright infringement.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Flourgon’s suit filed on Tuesday claims that Cyrus’ multi-platinum hit “We Cant Stop” borrows from his 1988 song, “We Run Things.”
In the song, Cyrus sings “We run things, things don’t run we,” to which Flourgon’s song sings nearly identical, with, “We run things, things no run we.”
The lawsuit specifically names RCA records, which is a Sony Music subsidiary, as well as Mike Will Made It, the hip-hop producer who produced the song and co-wrote the song with Cyrus and a team of credited writers.
The track went five-times platinum in the United States, and over 21x platinum worldwide.
Well Documented History of Cultural Appropriation
The lawsuit comes at an interesting time in the conversation of pop music, as Bruno Mars has been (wrongfully) accused of cultural appropriation. For Cyrus, cultural appropriation is an old hat.
The album, Bangerz, that the song in the lawsuit derives from is one that has been deeply criticized in the Black community. While fun, innovative, and hugely successful, it was Cyrus’ actions during its promotion that should remind everyone what cultural appropriation actually looks like.
Cyrus, infamously known for adopting Black lingo, trying on hip-hop to make multi-millions, acting insanely obscene in public, and then later blaming it on Black culture before ditching it to return to her “roots” in country music— is not in any way, shape, or form equal to the accusations against Bruno Mars.
The debate, which is still surprisingly hot on these streets, brings up the conversation surrounding intent versus systemic bias. As a light-melanated artist adjacent to Black culture but not of African roots, it’s true that white audiences nationally and internationally are more likely to be open to his music and his successes. That’s not necessarily anything that he can control. Bruno has — on many occasions — credited his influences and his Black contemporaries for their contributions to music.
Cyrus on the other hand, went on the record and blamed Black culture and Black music for the negative effect she claims it had on her.
“I can’t listen to that anymore,” Cyrus said in an interview with Billboard, citing Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” lyrics that asked for less fake bodies and more natural representations. “That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my c***’—I am so not that,” she added.
Cyrus’ following album flopped. It be like that sometimes.