City on Lock is a warm-up round for the heights City Girls are sure to ascend to.
City Girls are a hyper-feminine performance, and a bit of a duality — written and produced with a number of male collaborators while also helmed by Jatavia “JT” Jackson (who recently finished a 15-month sentence for fraud to which she freely admitted guilt). This setback complicated what appeared to be a potentially meteoric rise in 2018: For one long, grueling year, Caresha Brownlee AKA Yung Miami was forced to solely maintain the momentum from their two mixtapes and that delightful cameo on “In My Feelings”; she inadvertently (and without much say in the matter) became the face of the group. Which worked because she “gets‘ social media, being both a model and preternatural intuitor of viral content. “Nasty but classy / Birken bag me / spent a couple thousand on my titties and my asscheeks,” summarily codifies the Girls’ ethos (“Jobs”); or take the leering one-liner, “Broke ni**as don’t deserve no pussy,” whose perverted sing-song do-si-dos around a quintessentially meme-y New Orleans Bounce xylophone, creating something of a perfect storm of tonality that’s ripe for TikTokers to riff off. On the lyrical side, that hook gets ruined by the end of the couplet, “playing with you ni**as be like playin with my pussy,” which is far more clever in theory than execution. Add to this: “baddest bitch, modern-day Trina,” and sometimes one really feels the gap between Miami’s brags and ability. (Despite her close ties to the legendary Florida MC, a “godmother” to her, a new Trina she is not.)
In fact, the next track, “Pussy Talk,” a delirious invention in the vein of “Twerk” or “Act Up,” features a fire Doja Cat verse where she cleverly builds a taunt with the punchline, “No game, so the money made me play with my clit,” which makes Miami’s effort on the previous track more embarrassing. Thankfully, JT ain’t slackin’: on the same track, she describes her pussy in increasing hyperbole, that it’s “from the projects,” it “speaks ebonics,” and will, in essence, turn a man “gang-gang, he gon’ go to war.” Her art is filtered through the creative blend of Miami bass, snap, bounce, and trap, particularly in the way she continues to resurrect 80s rap for the modern audience — the most genius in this regard is “This Old Man,” built off a nursery rhyme like Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper.” The group vocals at the end recall Salt-N-Pepa, nothing new for the Girls, but providing much-needed levity to the trap sound. They don’t escape cliches: the street rap croon with Lil Durk falls flat upon the first line: “I’m from Opa-Locka, home of the choppas,” (really?), yet the same strategy works with label mate Lil Baby’s “Flewed Out,” perhaps a testament to the fact the trio are proving to be QC’s only reliable artists these days. Frankly, City on Lock is the warm-up round. Rumor has it JT and Miami weren’t even recording in the same locale, which, if solved, might seriously aid the Girls. Their chemistry is potentially explosive.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Q2 2020 Issue – Part 1.