September 12, 2013 - 6:10pm
BY GIBSON JOHNS
Earlier this week, Mike WiLL Made It — the in-demand producer behind hits like Kanye West’s “Mercy” and Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” — premiered “23,” the lead single off of his debut album. The club-ready hip-hop track sees the producer team back up with Cyrus and also features Wiz Khalifa and Juciy J.
A tribute to Michael Jordan, his iconic jersey number and signature Nikes, “23” kicks off with quite the hook from Cyrus who sings, “I’m in the club high off purp with some shades on/Tatted up, mini skirt with my J’s on.” Some would call it singing, some would call it her version of rapping, but either way it remains in line with the image she’s been projecting as of late: naughty, shameless and, well, baffling.
Cyrus goes on to sing (actually singing this time and much more pleasantly to the ear), “Put on my J’s and dance the whole night away/I’m naughty by nature like I’m hip-hop hooray.” She’s more than proven her point and, although it’s a catchy one, it feels slightly out of place on “23.”
Khalifa’s verse proves just as unimaginative, though: “Pro athlete I’m not no wannabe/Waitress asked how many bottles? I said 23.” I realize it’s supposed to be a poppin’ bottles-worthy tribute to the legend that is Michael Jordan, but could Khalifa really not think of something more creative than this? These lyrics do not do Number 23 justice.
Juicy J keeps the momentum going with lines like “I’m so fly, I’m gettin’ head like a blow dryer” in the third verse which is followed by more of the Miley madness. The track feels like a disappointment because, really, shouldn’t such a huge collaboration yield something stronger than this?
Mike WiLL Made It has been killin’ the game recently and Wiz, Juicy J and Miley are all hot right now in their own rights. Don’t get me wrong — “23” is clever at times and could undoubtedly get a party going with its bouncy beat. But is it memorable? Not in the slightest. It looks like that other little song they did, “We Can’t Stop,” will still have to do — for now.
—A version of this article ran in the print version of the Daily on Sept. 13, 2013.