In the fury of G-Wagon rentals and janky promoters that characterize award weekends, Miami-based rap pair City Girls seem grounded. Jata "JT" Johnson and Caresha "Yung Miami" Brownlee have only been rapping as City Girls for under a year, but they signed to Quality Control Music in December, an out-of-town addition for a label that houses Atlanta’s contemporary upper echelon in Migos and Lil Baby.
Coach K and Pee, QC's headmasters, signed them on the strength of “Fuck Dat Nigga,” a track casually made last year on an impulse between the two. It’s a cruising diatribe against an ex-lover delivered with their unique manifestation of indifference. A muted synth introduces the song, and it would be inspiring if the track’s purpose wasn’t slandering lames. JT opens their back-and-forth by discrediting wedding rings and flexing Givenchy socks. Miami picks up when the drums enter to tell how many racks it took for her “titties to get bigger," coalescing the girls’ braggadocio into a raunchy, empowering anthem, one that asserts independence and superiority of their sex organs.
This helped the song go viral early in Florida, tapping into the tradition of lovingly brash stars Trina, Khia and 2 Live Crew. Period, the group’s tape released last month, finds them expanding their chemistry across tracks like “Tighten Up," which meanders in similar fashion as “Fuck Dat Nigga” and the straightforward and boisterous slapper “Where the Bag At?” The tape’s name comes from their own, Miami-bred, affirmative slang.
“People ask us what ‘period’ means all the time,” Yung Miami tells me before the interview proper begins. “It’s just like a saying. I don’t even know how to explain it. It just means ‘period,’ you know? You can use it any way you want to emphasize what you’re saying, “You look nice today, period.” “I don’t like that hair, period.”
She tells me this resting in a quiet West Hollywood hotel, preparing for the onslaught of media in town for the BET Awards. She enters the room a few minutes before JT, shimmying to a beat only she can hear. “Make sure you let people know I’m lit”, she says while outlining the subtleties of a quality Boomerang video for her publicist. The girls had prepared a list of throwback “dirty” songs that influenced their own crusade of normalizing vulgarity. While City Girls will upset anyone donning puritanical vestments, reducing them to two shock-seeking mouthpieces for dirty lyrics misses the point.
“We’re just being ourselves,” JT said in a previous interview with Miami New Times. “No one will sound like [us] if we just be ourselves and be in our own lane, because no one else sounds like they're from Miami right now.”
City Girls’ music is a genuine representation of themselves presented in the everyday speech of their audience, women navigating their relationship to culture, capital and sex. They don’t spend time critiquing systems, instead flipping them to dictate power dynamics. They want to imbue confidence, make “alter-ego” music as JT says, and inspire their listeners to be the “baddest bitch possible," period. The allure of “Fuck Dat Nigga”, and the rest of their music, doesn’t come from meeting a quota for curse words, but from its authenticity. That being said, here are nine of their favorite throwback “dirty” tracks.
Lil Kim, “Not Tonight” (1996)
To this day, few albums force you to shut windows faster than Lil Kim's Hard Core. Her sultry delivery and ability to capture ambivalence towards her partners make the album version of "Not Tonight" a gem in the discography of "the dopest host in a lady frame."
YM: Yeah, “Not Tonight." I like that one because she describes all the [different types] of boys. She went through, you know, "I know a dude named Jimmy used to run up in me / Night time pissy drunk off the Henny’. Growing up, when I was listening to that I thought, ‘Oh, I gotta experience that when I’m grown.' Nah, I’m playing (laughs)
I just liked how she picked out different kinds of men to talk about, ones you’d encounter throughout your life. She talked about dudes who wouldn’t eat her pussy. That’s what I’m saying though. You might be talking to a boy and you don’t even care if they don’t eat your pussy, cause you like them so much.
JT: It really is like that sometimes. Not even playing.
Ciara, “Ride” (2010)
The subdued production and accompanying video choreography for Ciara's Basic Instinct lead single are still used as inspiration today. And it was definitely cut off once your middle school assistant principal heard it at homecoming.
YM: “He love the way I riiiiide it.” (laughs) I just love that song because it’s so descriptive. She really lets you know how she rides it. The video made me like it because of her dancing too. When I listen to that song though, I just picture me riding (laughs).
Petey Pablo, “Freek-a-Leek” (2003)
With respect to breaking records, WBoomBoomB is still batting 1.000.
YM: I love that song because he just names all the freaks. He called them all out. I was like, “Damn why couldn’t he say my name.”
YM: When you were growing up you always wanted the song to be about you.
Trina, “Look Back at Me” (2008)
The third single off Trina's 2008 Still Da Baddest has been a Miami staple for the last decade. While the title is patriarchal, lines like “Look back at you for what? / I’m trying to concentrate on bustin’ me a nut” are examples of her questioning orgasmic norms.
YM: I know that song word-for-word.
YM: Trina was like, "I got an ass so big like the sun / Hope you got a mile for a dick I wanna run / Slap it in my face shove it down." I just love that song. What else did she say? Oh, "I know how to ride I can spin around and keep the dick still inside". Like, you can? I need to be able to do that then (laughs).
JT: Showing you the possibilities.
YM: Trina gave me an attitude. When she rapped, it was more than just what she was saying. She was herself. Hood and nasty. She gave me a bad bitch to look up to.
Pretty Ricky, “Love Like Honey” (2007) and “Grind With Me” (2005)
Most outside of Miami were introduced to Pretty Ricky "Grind On Me", which peaked at number 7 on Billboard Charts in 2005. It was also when young men collectively realized they'd never pull off a red jumpsuit quite as well.
The next installment in Pretty Ricky's quest to make other men obsolete, Late Night Special, featured "Honey" as a single. While "Grind With Me" was a straightforward declaration of expectations, "Honey" employs Pleasure to euphemize their desires with food.
YM: You know a lotta people lost their virginity to Pretty Ricky and I was one of ‘em. “Grind With Me” has gotta be my favorite though. And Spectacular was my favorite member back then, but I was just going off of looks. It’s Slick’em now. He had the better verses.
JT: I grew up listening to a lotta Pretty Ricky.
Trick Daddy, “Play No Games” (2002)
By 2002, "Play No Games" was just a continuation of his Dade County pimpin' tradition that began in the mid-90s with 2 Live Crew. It's an explicit retelling of the universal desire to hear the truth.
JT: I picked this one. I really just like all of Trick Daddy’s older music like this. That beat sounds so good, I’ve always liked that song. He’s been around longer than people think. I’ve liked him since that song with Twista, “Could It Be."
Jacki-O, “Nookie” (2003)
Jacki-O's 2003 single "Nookie", or "Pussy (So Good)" depending on how much your parents paid attention, is her biggest hit to date. While she garnered overly simplistic comparisons to Trina, Jacki-O's paced delivery give the song an icy authority.
JT: I saw Jacki-O on that list and had to pick her. I don’t know if I’d say “Nookie” is my favorite, but she needed to be on this list. I really love that “Fine” track with Ying Yang Twins.
Three 6 Mafia, “Slob on My Knob” (1999)
IF YOU DON'T KNOW THIS SONG YOU SHOULDN'T STILL BE HERE
JT: That’s a good one to end on, it’s a classic. What else is there to say?