Last month, I dedicated nearly two hours to listening to Quality Control’s 30-track compilation, Control The Streets. Song after song, Migos and Lil Yachty brought their friends along, flexing their muscle for melody on each track. There were some newer voices in Lil Baby and Marlo, and overall, Control The Streets was a testament to the consistency from the camp. Their formula was solid. What I didn’t know was that there was a new act buried 25 songs deep.
On a project that encapsulated much of what Atlanta embodied sonically, “Fuck Dat Nigga” was distinct. It was a journey south, with two women as co-pilots, shattering the boy’s club that had been assembled for all but three songs. It was the only song without a male presence, and it didn’t need one. Channeling the aura of two of Florida’s raunchiest rappers, Khia and Trina, City Girls revive their flow on the track. My only question was, who the hell was City Girls and where had they been all this time?
J.T. and Yung Miami, the duo that make up City Girls, crossed paths in Florida’s Miami-Dade County as teenagers eight years ago, spending summers at each other’s grandmother’s houses. Their quick ascent under the ranks of rap’s Atlanta-based QC label raised eyebrows, but their charisma has garnered the attention of their hometown hero, Trina. “When they came out they just reminded me of me,” says Trina in a Hot 97 interview last December. Trina likens their trajectory to her own, one propelled by chance encounters in a studio rather than one that was years in the making.
Miami’s rap lineage is rooted in flashy, suggestive lyrics as seen in the careers of 2 Live Crew, Trick Daddy’s Slip-N-Slide entourage, and Jacki-O. For City Girls, Miami is not just home, but a lifestyle. “Our culture here is about girls who are about their money. If you don’t have no money--,” says J.T. over the phone, punctuating the statement with a laugh. She stops mid-sentence. She can already tell that what she’s about to say will sound wrong, but says it anyway. “I’m just being honest. I just said on the track what I would say to a broke nigga.” The two laugh in unison. “That’s how Miami girls are. Ain’t too many girls from our city who are soft spoken,” she says.
It’s that same tenacity that got them in the booth last August. After getting into a spat with some girls from around the city, the two intended to make a diss record but ended up with an anti-broke boy anthem. They bought the beat from longtime friend and producer, Major Nine, who flipped the second verse of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” into their hook. “We recorded that song like five times,” says Yung Miami. “The first time we did it, it was so drowsy.” Utilising free sessions in a cousin’s warehouse studio, the duo were their own worst critics, dissecting how their introduction to the world should sound until they decided to release it later that month.
Their roadmap to rap hit a detour when J.T. was arrested for credit card fraud just as the song was released. Without her partner, Yung Miami pushed the record on her own Instagram. “I would make girls sing to it and repost it to my page. I started going to clubs and I’d tip a DJ a little extra to play the song,” she says.
While one half of City Girls was putting in the legwork, J.T.’s pending charges were causing her to lose sight of their vision. “I’d never been in trouble before and I thought I was never going to get out,” says J.T. “She’s calling me every day telling me people are playing our song, but I was in jail, I didn’t want to hear that.” Yung Miami’s social strategy was enough to start booking shows at local venues like Heads or Tails and G5ive after J.T.’s release. In a matter of months they would meet the man who would change their circumstances: Coach K.
“When Stan [their manager] told us QC wanted to sign, we said, ‘We don’t want to sign with y’all, we want to be independent,’ says J.T., recalling the urge to join the wave of independent artists to come from Miami. Signing two months later, the girls were drawn to Coach K’s penchant for their ability to be themselves. “They liked that we were hood, and they accepted us for who we are,” says Yung Miami. “We want to be a miracle. We want everybody to believe it can happen to them, because we really are just regular girls.”
Look out for their debut project with Quality Control in March.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer at Noisey who also isn't checking for broke boys. Follow her on Twitter.