Since I’m an entertainment writer and live with two college kids, I consider myself fairly well-versed in slang. When I watched Miley Cyrus’ “23” video for the first time, I had to fetch an urban dictionary for half of what she said. Here’s a breakdown of the lyrics for the urban-slang impaired.
This word is not in the lyrics of “23,” but I figured we’d kick off with this, since this term has become synonymous with Miley Cyrus. It’s a trendy word that essentially means someone or something is a hot mess. For example, Cyrus told Notion magazine, “People have this misconception of me that I’m just one of these kids on TV and that now I go off and party and I’m just this ratchet white girl, and I’m not.” (Did she say this while she was twerking with gold grills on her teeth?)
Cyrus’ VMAs performance riled racial tensions because many felt that Cyrus continually borrows from the black community to the point of exploitation — at the VMAs she slapped a black woman’s butt and used black women as teddy bear props. Dodai Stewart of Jezebel.com summarizes Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” video this way — “A lesson from Miley Cyrus’ new video: If you want to look “cool” and “edgy” and “tough” just steal the styles and dance moves of black people.”
In “23,” Cyrus seems to be at it again with the language she uses and dressing in a Chicago Bulls “uniform” (that even the cheerleaders would classify as skimpy) donning Michael Jordan’s #23. Could Cyrus even name the starting lineup of the Chicago Bulls if she had to?
A ratchet glossary
“I’m in the club high off purp”: “Purp,” in case you haven’t been high off of it lately, can mean two things: It is either cough syrup (really?) or a special brand of marijuana. Cyrus is sucking down a smokey-treat in the beginning of this video, but later in the song the lyrics say, “All this purple in my cup,” so in this instance it may mean both.
“J’s on my feet”: No, J is not a foot fungus or a foot tattoo (Cyrus just got “Rolling” tattooed on one foot and “$tone” on the other, allegedly to celebrate her recent Rolling Stone cover). J’s are Air Jordan tennis shoes by Michael Jordan and having J’s on your feet means something to some people. (Note: Cyrus is rocking a pair of bada** red heels at the beginning of this video, that don’t look like J’s).
“More kicks than the players”: Kicks are shoes, and Wiz Khalifah brags that he has 30 pairs of J’s. “Wolf Greys” are a type of Air Jordans and “Taylors” are Chuck Taylor shoes, associated with the Taylor Gang that Khalifah often references in his songs. Evidently, this song is about drugs and shoes. Sex, drugs and rock and roll has become sex, drugs and shoes.
“I back it up cause I don’t give a f***”: And now, kids, a final word from Ms. Cyrus on twerking. She’s going to back it up, because she doesn’t care. And that’s the show. Or in this case, the shoe?
Cyrus recently broke a Vevo record for most views in 24 hours with “Wrecking Ball” and she’s being featured in a rap video? Hmmm. Have the exploitation tables turned? Did Cyrus just get beat at her own game?