Rapper Nelly has hailed Miley Cyrus as the new Madonna, insisting she knows how to use controversy to boost her career.

The former Hannah Montana star has barely been out of the headlines since her shocking performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in August (13) and has been accused of oversexualising her image to increase sales.

Stars including Sinead O'Connor, Annie Lennox and Brooke Shields have all questioned the 20 year old's onstage antics, but Nelly is adamant she could reach pop icon status.

He tells Britain's Daily Star, "Miley's a great talent. She's young and ambitious and wants to do it her way. Madonna did it her way, and she became one of the greatest female entertainers of all time.

"Madonna grew up in the age of no social media. She wasn't under the type of scrutiny Miley's under. When you're 20 years old and you've been under a machine your whole life and been told what to do, when you get to a certain age you're like: 'I want to do it my way.'

"Whatever mistakes she makes she's gonna have to deal with them. She understands that. You have to stay in people's faces now. You have to be seen all the time, making headlines."

The Hot in Here hitmaker features on Cyrus' new album, Bangerz, on the track 4x4.