The City Girls philosophy, such as it is, is simple: As summed up by the chorus on “Trap Star,” it’s to “f*ck him ’til he broke… then I dash off.” There’s beauty in that kind of simplicity. It’s uncomplicated, straightforward, and honest. What you see is what you get.
That’s the way City Girls’ music is overall; you know what you’re getting going in. Girl Code may only be their second album — both in their catalog and in 2018 — but whether you were a fan of their debut album, Period, or this is your first ride, there won’t be much in the way of surprises. There’s a comforting familiarity to the sophomore project for established fans and a knowing, easy accessibility for newcomers. And while there’s not much in the way of variety or depth, overall, it’s a fun album for nights out from a crew that knows exactly how to deliver what they’ve advertised.
Seeing that quality is likely what prompted Quality Control Music head honchos Coach and Pee to sign the untested Miami rap duo late last year when their first record became the basis for a solid appearance on the Quality Control compilation, Control The Streets Volume 1. “F*ck Dat N—-” resonated so strongly with the streets that the Girls’ studio debut Period was promptly pressed up and promoted throughout the spring of 2018, but before any of the album’s first three singles (“I’ll Take Your Man,” “Sweet Tooth,” and “Where The Bag At”) could gain traction outside of the group’s newly-minted, hardcore fanbase, member JT was arrested and sentenced to 24 months in Miami’s Federal Detention Center for credit card fraud.
Fortunately, the group’s placement on Drake’s summertime album Scorpion on the wildly viral fan favorite track “In My Feelings,” bought JT enough time on the outside to record the entirety of Girl Code, film an unknown number of music videos for the remaining Period singles and presumably at least a few of Girl Code‘s, and deliver a star-making performance at the 2018 BET Awards. A label-sponsored mini-doc detailed the whirlwind, 30-day extension, during which Coach and Pee kept JT and Yung Miami working at a feverish pace to get all the work done on time.
Yet, that breakneck recording schedule hasn’t diminished the quality of the music they delivered for Girl Code. Since they never seemed particularly interested in mining concepts outside of their stoic, “trick these dudes for every last dime” topics, they were already well-practiced in knocking together strip-club ready gold-digging anthems in the vein of lead single “Twerk,” which now features a fittingly unabashed verse from Cardi B.
Pardon the loaded term, but when describing what City Girls do on high-energy tracks like “On The Low,” “Season,” and “Broke Boy” — and do extremely well, might I add — it helps to be as straightforward and unabashed as they are. I don’t know if they’re interested in reclaiming such terms as gold digger so much as they are entirely unfazed by the potential of such invective being applied to them. They’re too busy getting this paper, the best way they know how: By milking their ballerific targets for all the diamonds, designer, and dollars their hearts desire with the enticement of “leave-in” p*ssy, as JT dubs her assets on “Season.”
That the transactional nature of sex and relationships is taken for granted in the majority of their raps makes it almost fun to ride along with them as they drain bank accounts and dismiss broke boys. The sole exception is “Panties An Bra,” the only truly “romantic” perspective offered on the album — as romantic as come-ons like “Just bring that dick, a Plan B, and Hennessey” can be, anyway. They know what side the bread is buttered on, and they cater to that very specific empowerment fantasy of using the thing men seem to desire most to enrich themselves effectively and occasionally uproariously (see above-referenced line vis a vis a romantic evening with JT). There are threats to beat up rival ratchets on “Act Up” and “Clout Chasin’,” but they stick to their guns on most other songs, to entertaining effect.
For the most part, it’s evident throughout the album that JT was the more polished, lyrical half. Yung Miami has been pretty upfront in interviews — even sometimes to her detriment — that it was her good friend who pulled her into rapping, and it shows as JT’s bars generally come across as more memorable and more on-beat.
There are times it’s clear Miami could have used a few more takes to land her delivery, but with limited time before JT’s sentence and a full docket of items to check off the list to keep them buzzing until her 2019 release date, they had to get it done. And really, that’s what their style actually boils down to. Knowing their goals and doing whatever it takes to achieve them. In the broader context of a world where movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up are still necessary, City Girls’ “girl code” is just a brash take on the one that women everywhere have embraced all along.
Girl Code is out now via Quality Control/Motown/Capitol. Get it here.