Leave the game
There is nothing subtle about City Girls. Their bars are as lit as the lifestyle they’ve built for themselves from the ground up, and they’ve got no problem telling everyone exactly what they want. And for 2020, what they want is summed up by the title of their new mixtape: City on Lock. They’ve been holding it down for their hometown, Miami, while handling business and managing a few life detours, and now they’ve got the globe in their sights. JT is out of prison, Yung Miami gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and they’re ready to take over and convert the whole world into City Boys and Girls. “City on Lock is a mood,” says JT. In fact, she elaborates, “It has every mood you could possibly be in... except a sad mood.”
The new set includes 15 unapologetic bangers, features by Yo Gotti, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, and Doja Cat, and wall-to-wall proof that City Girls are constantly developing the unfiltered flow that listeners fell in love with early on. It’s that defiant stance that lifted City Girls to the top of the rap game, sparking interest from the taste-making Quality Control Music, kicking off collaborations with Drake and Cardi B, scoring a handful of platinum records, and winning them “Best New Artist” nominations from both BET and Billboard.
City Girls have done things few female hip-hop duos or groups have managed, and as their momentum continues to rise Billboard magazine chose to recognize them with a cover story as the face of what’s to break in 2020. But City Girls’ ability to stir things up hasn’t been slowed down by their fame. They have never censored themselves, and are more inspired than ever to share their own brand of female empowerment and preach its realness to those who need to hear. “We are from Miami,” says Yung Miami. “We talk what we were raised on, what we go through.”
“We brought back that Period feeling for City on Lock,” says Yung Miami, referring to their 2018 debut mixtape, and she means it literally. Lead City on Lock single “Jobs” samples 2018’s “Tighten Up,” and offers up true tales from the artists’ recent lives and struggles, all on top of a menacing beat. It’s a clever way to connect the past to present. As Yung Miami puts it, “The City Girls are back — even though we never left.”
Yung Miami and JT grew up together around Opa-locka and Liberty City, Florida. They spent their days listening to Pretty Ricky and Destiny’s Child, and their nights slaying at Miami’s teen clubs. Both loved music but never planned to make it a career, let alone write the manual on boss-bitch anthems. But thanks to their raw talent, unrelenting hustle, and fearless attitudes, that’s what they did. It started with a diss track about broke boys, 2017’s “Fuck Dat Nigga,” set to a beat built on Khia’s “My Neck, My Back.” Their high-key tribute to independent women also paid homage to Miami’s rap history — pioneers like 2 Live Crew and Trina, while at the same time announcing City Girls’ newness.
It was QC’s Coach K who gave the duo their name after that cut caught his ear. JT and Yung Miami introduced themselves to him as being “from the city,” and so they became City Girls. Then came Period, with “Where the Bag At” about getting what you’re owed, and soon after, Drake’s “In My Feelings,” where Yung Miami counters the star’s pining “’Resha, do you love me?” with “Fuck that Netflix and chill, what’s your net-net-net worth?” That line helped cement them as unapologetic feminist icons unafraid to demand their due. The message resonated loud and clear with fans who blasted their songs in cities, suburbs, and the country alike.
Instead of celebrating, City Girls were back in the studio grinding on what would become their official debut, 2018’s Girl Code. They were working against a hard deadline: the same day “In My Feelings” dropped, JT had turned herself in to authorities on a credit card fraud charge — she had to start serving her sentence before the album was done. “Honestly I didn’t think it was enough for a project,” says JT, “but we got two platinum records off of it.” Those were, of course, the unstoppable “Act Up” (sampled on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer”) and the Miami bass meets New Orleans bounce heater “Twerk,” featuring Cardi B.
As the songs stormed the charts and City Girls fandom spread, JT and Yung Miami talked every day through the prison messaging system, memorizing each other’s lines and keeping things moving. When Yung Miami performed their songs, holding it down for the group, she’d often wear a shirt with JT’s face on it, making sure her friend and partner wasn’t forgotten for even a minute. The time apart had them keyed up, ready to go. On the day she was released, October 8, 2019, JT started writing a new song. She dropped “JT First Day Out” the next day — the first move in what she calls City Girls 2.0. They were soon back in the studio recording again, because as Yung Miami says, as direct as ever, “It was time for something new.”
City Girls have one goal: leave the game as legends, nothing less. Well, that and, as Yung Miami says, “to make people dance during this strange time.” The duo fully expects to succeed by simply being the confident hustlers they’ve always been. City on Lock is a testament to that — a celebration of expression that drops listeners right into the center of City Girls’ world. As JT puts it, “I’m out, we together, we know what we like — this is us.” And
as The New Yorker wrote, ignore them at your own peril. Periodt.
Pussy Talk feat. Doja Cat
Where The Bag At
Period (We Live)
+ Yung Miami Is Just Getting Started, Galore Mag
+ City Girls "City On Lock", Pitchfork
+ The Ferocious, Feel-Good Rap of City Girls’ “Girl Code”, The New Yorker