Miley Cyrus' musical makeover is almost as divisive as her physical transformation. Once known for kid-friendly pop hits like "Start All Over" and "See You Again" during her days as a Disney Channel star, the rebellious 20-year-old shows off an ostensibly more mature side on her latest single, "We Can't Stop."
The outspoken musician (whose fiance Liam Hemsworth recently called off their engagement, as exclusively reported by Us Weekly) tells the latest issue of Billboard that her new look and sound has sparked some unfair comparisons to her contemporaries. "A lot of people wanted to try to make me the white Nicki Minaj," Cyrus says of the chart-topping rapper. "That's not what I'm trying to do. I love 'hood' music, but my talent is as a singer."
Known for her love of twerking, Cyrus adds, "I can't really be told what to do right now. I'm too young to go in and make someone else's vision come to life. I want to go make my visions."
Though she's often seen clubbing and sings about drug use in her latest single, Cyrus insists she has an unparalleled work ethic. "I never stop working, ever — I put my track list together this morning," she tells Billboard. "I want my record to be the biggest record in the world, and I've given everything to get here, even down to friends and family and relationships — I've just put this music first."
"That's been kind of a trip: It's not like I'm losing who I am — I actually found out more about who I am by making this music," she continues. "I'm going on a journey, and that's more than a lot of 20-year-olds can say. And I'm still going to change so much. Because I'm not the same person I was six months ago — I'm not even the same person I was two weeks ago."
Though "We Can't Stop" shot to the top of the iTunes charts when it was released June 3, the track received flak for its adult themes. Cyrus dismisses such criticisms, arguing that it's important for her to be honest about her experiences.
"I'm 20 years old and I want to talk to the people that are up all night with their friends," she says of the song, produced by Mike WiLL Made It. "It's based on a true story of a crazy night I had: When I heard the song for the first time, it captured exactly what I was living. I didn't make this song for the critics, but for the people living it."
As for the rest of her album, due this September? "I've always wanted country-rock influences, but now I'm moving over to a more urban side," she says. "It's not a hip-hop album, though-it's a pop album. I'm not coming in trying to rap. It's more like, 'I don't see any girls out there doing what Miguel and Frank Ocean are doing.'"
Cyrus' full interview is featured in the latest issue of Billboard, on sale Monday, June 17.