City Girls | City on Lock

REAL ASS BITCH GIVE A FUCK ‘BOUT A NIGGA. You know the rest. “Act Up”, City Girls’ biggest single to date, was released in 2018 on the Miami-based duo’s debut, Girl Code. That marked the culmination of a wild year–after making just two songs, Yung Miami and JT signed with Atlanta label Quality Control Music in late 2017, then released their first mixtape in May 2018, Period. They provided vocals on Drake megahit “In My Feelings” (has it really been two years since the Shiggy Shuck and Jive???). From there, they dropped Girl Code in November. However, much of their momentum was slowed by JT’s imprisonment on credit card fraud charges, for which she served a two year sentence starting in June 2018. Although she was released from prison in October 2019, she was still unable to leave Miami. That same October, Yung Miami gave birth to her second child. It seemed like it would be quite a while before we heard from them again.

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending the music industry, it seemed that it might be an even longer wait before we heard new music from City Girls–after all, their infectious, twerk-ready music doesn’t seem suited for quarantine. However, their hand was forced when their sophomore album was leaked late on Juneteenth. 

And thank goodness it came when it did, because Yung Miami and JT are back with a vengeance. It’s tough to believe that they’ve only been recording for three years. The beat selection is exquisite, utilizing superproducers like Earl on the Beat, Tay Keith, and Southside, as well as underground beatmakers like Kiddo Marv and Don D. The sound they aim for is sprawling, yet perfectly suited for them; you can hear elements of New Orleans bounce, West Coast hip hop, and Atlanta trap on any given beat, but City Girls never sound like they’re struggling to fit in. A large part of that is due to assists from outside sources; the album’s liner notes are filled with extensive credits. This feels like guidance as they mature, and it will be interesting to see if their recording process becomes insular with time or if City Girls will expand into a larger project with teams of producers and writers, a lá Drake or Beyoncé.

Signs of maturation are clear in their delivery. They’re focused, finding the pockets in each song and utilizing new flows. Each verse sounds polished–its clear that they’re developing quickly in the QC boot camp. They, are, however, still developing–a lot of the songwriting credits go to other people. Lyrically, they stick to their world–rapping about coming up in Miami, getting paid, scamming, and having fun. This is apparent on the single “Jobs”, a fast, bass-heavy track about self-promotion and entrepreneurship. In the music video, they’re selling collard greens at a restaurant before they get fired, then they get money by betting on themselves. That’s pretty much their life–before rapping, Yung Miami was selling clothes on Instagram–and this authenticity is what sells the party so well. 

The pacing of the party, however, is at times uneven–the slower songs feel out of place next to the more energetic ones, and they don’t transition between them well. “Flewed Out” feels out of place between “Come Outside” and “Rodeo”, while “City on Lock” and “Winnin” feel like they slow down the album after the bouncy “That Old Man”. 

The songs themselves, however, are still good. And when they choose to feature artists, the guests fit well over the beats and meld into whatever vibe City Girls look for. Guest verses from Lil Baby and Lil Durk mesh well on “Flewed Out” and “City on Lock”, respectively, songs about hustling and escaping poverty. Yo Gotti does everything he’s supposed to on “Broke Niggas”, and Doja Cat (taking a break from racial chat rooms) delivers shades of Nicki on club anthem “Pussy Talk”. 

City Girls don’t beat around the bush–Yung Miami and JT are here to represent Miami and get money, and they’ll have the time of their life while they do it. As they should. JT is out. Yung Miami has a new baby. McDonald’s is giving them chains! This joy shines through on the album–it’s impossible not to smile while listening to it, and it’s even harder to sit still. It truly is a shame that clubs will be closed indefinitely–this album has all the makings of a summer party classic. The City Girls’ star has risen remarkably fast, and we can only hope that it climbs even higher.

Rating: Something you should play firmly in the middle of the party, when the vibes are sensational

Favorite Tracks: Jobs, Come Outside, Rodeo, That’s My Bitch

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