In control of her sound and image, Miley is mixing hip-hop edge with country twang, and storming the Billboard Hot 100 with "We Can't Stop"

In addition to "We Can't Stop," the Mike WiLL tracks on the album include "Stand by Me" featuring Future-which WiLL describes as "one of the greatest songs ever; a big feel-good, stadium, Super Bowl-sounding record"-and "Drive," which features murky dubstep/trap synths and drums that'll be best heard banging out of club systems. The passionate, desperate singing, however, proudly reveals Cyrus' roots. "I told her, 'Keep your country twang,'" WiLL says. "That's what's ill about her."

"A lot of people wanted to try to make me the white Nicki Minaj," Cyrus says. "That's not what I'm trying to do. I love 'hood' music, but my talent is as a singer." To that end, Edge is particularly excited about "Wrecking Ball"-a defiant power ballad produced by Dr. Luke with a thrilling vocal performance. "We were inspired by One­Republic, and the way Timbaland used to do those big ballads," Cyrus says. Edge adds: "When Miley came to us she had really good songs already, including 'Wrecking Ball,' which blew us away. It could be a career song for her."

She takes a most uncharacteristic pause, dragging on her cigarette as she contemplates the Los Angeles landscape. "I never stop working, ever-I put my track list together this morning," Cyrus says. "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. 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."

This is an excerpt. For the complete story, buy this week's issue of Billboard.

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