Fresh off of a co-signature from Drake and an appearance on the 6 God’s smash hit “In My Feelings,” Jatavia “JT” Johnson and Caresha “Yung Miami” Brownlee, together known as the City Girls, have enjoyed a whirlwind of 12 months that has seen them rise from almost-literal unknowns to burgeoning voices in the realm of rising femcees.
With no immediate intentions of making it big, JT tagged childhood friend Yung Miami to join her on a song — “a regular little diss track about girls in the neighborhood,” as JT described it in City Girls’ Point Blank Period documentary. Shortly after the release of their first track together, “Fuck Dat Nigga,” City Girls were signed to Quality Control Music, and their debut single appeared on the label’s compilation album at the end of 2017.
Their single introduced the world to a lot of the hedonistic and opportunistic themes that permeate their later music, but its crude nature left a certain population of listeners less than impressed with City Girls’ first outing — a reality that JT echoed in an interview with XXL.
“A lot of people didn’t get the song,” she said, “but that was a good song. A lot of people slept on it, but at the same time it balanced itself out. But a lot of people judged us by that.”
Nevertheless, the song served as a springboard that got themselves co-signs from big Florida artists — DJ Khaled and the legendary female rappers Trina and Khia — and afforded them the opportunity to work with a label full of stars. The only question that really mattered was whether or not City Girls could capitalize on this momentum and improve on the sound they had put forth in the debut single.
The simple answer: yes.
Like “Fuck Dat Nigga,” Period wallows in unapologetic vulgarity and drips with that same bossy attitude that saturates the music of their Floridian foremothers — Trina, Khia, and Jacki-O. The difference between their first release and now is that the sound is more polished and the duo sound so much more comfortable as emcees.
JT and Yung Miami present themselves as master finessers and skilled manipulators of men — a trade that JT claims she learned from her own mother on the song “Rap Shit” (“I watch mamma trick niggas to keep the lights on / By sixteen I had a talk game, and two phones”). “How to Pimp a Nigga” is essentially a Finesse 101 course, as the two Miamians teach a masterclass about exploiting the affections of men for cash (“Make him think you love him, take his money, then you dip on niggas”).
Nearly every song on Period finds City Girls championing this gold-digger mentality. On cuts like “Where the Bag At,” “Millionaire Dick,” “Period,” and “No Time,” the girls make it clear that affluence is a requirement in order to cuff either of them. It’s a mindset that male rappers have long lambasted women for, but JT and Yung Miami actually embrace this and instead turn it into their superpower.
And their skills are not limited to finessing money. On “I’ll Take Your Man,” which was JT and Yung Miami’s second single together, the City Girls boast of their ability to steal away any woman’s beau and use this to deliver warnings to their haters: if you mess with them, they won’t hesitate to take your man (“You don’t want smoke, baby, please believe me / Cuz I’m that bitch and your nigga looking easy”).
When they’re not talking smack about finessing money, men, or money from men, the Miami locals are being very candid about their nighttime activities. Other than“Sweet Tooth,” one of the mixtape’s best X-rated jams, the raunchiest moment comes on the song “Movie” — a pop-rap track that can really only be described as “musical pornography” — in which JT teases the listening audience with an incredibly graphic depiction of what she and her anonymous lover are doing to each other in bed. It’s an ironic and funny moment on the mixtape: of all the songs in the tracklist, “Movie” is the song with the most radio-friendly sound, but the least radio-friendly lyrics. The song matches and maybe even surpasses “My Neck, My Back”levels of filthiness.
Something should also be said for City Girls’ reverence for their female OGs. Other than the obvious Trina and Jacki-O influence in tone and in lyrics, Period is a celebration of the women that helped pioneer the path that the duo is currently following. Trina’s classic “Baddest Bitch”is sampled on the aforementioned “Sweet Tooth”; on “Fuck on U” JT and Yung Miami interpolate the hook and ad-libs of Lil Kim’s “Crush on You”; and on “I’ll Take Your Man” City Girls perform their own rendition of Salt-n-Pepa’s song of the same name.
The subject matter across the board doesn’t necessarily have a lot of range, which may cause the self-indulgence to grow tiresome over the course of 16 tracks. But the relatively short song runtimes and interesting production choices help interrupt any potential banality, and the sheer sass and energy with which the duo delivers their verses keeps the atmosphere lively throughout. The two haven’t been official emcees for very long, but the improvement of their sound, in just the handful of months from when they started rapping up until now, is proof that they are coming into their own.