City Girls – RAW | Ben’s Beat – Music Reviews


Despite expanding their empire with other ventures and spawning a couple imitators arguably taking their sound and personae even further this year, Florida’s own JT and Yung Miami – collectively known, of course, as the City Girls – are still, essentially, the same as when they started, for better and for worse. The duo’s third album, RAW – which of course is actually an acronym for a phrase I don’t necessarily want to repeat – is even introduced with a skit where they essentially state as much, warning listeners to abandon ship early if they don’t want to hear “some real City Girls, scamming, tricking s**t,” possibly searching instead for “some serious-ass, freestyling, cypher-ass rap.” Of course, the album’s title is somewhat appropriate – the duo have always been a little raw, disjointed and off-the-cuff, never displaying much in the way of technical skill. For their fans, that realness is part of the charm. For an active listener, a full album can get a little tiresome, but as always, flashes of personality keep things entertaining.

Despite the aforementioned cypher warning, the opening track “Pinata” has the kind of bare-bones boom-bap beat that you might find in one – before a single, extended bass note rumbles throughout the chorus. It’s the kind of environment that lets their mic presence thrive, as the two introduce the album with some of the most fun wordplay and X-rated puns on the album. Staying in the rhythmic pocket, it’s the kind of song designed to become a club favourite. “Static” has a beat from Tay Keith, but the tinny piano notes echoing around the track aren’t really his best work. They pave the way for a guest verse from Lil Durk – who fits right in with the City Girls in the sense that neither of them are great at staying on beat at times. And for a fiery Tay Keith beat, you need to be a little more energetic if you have a repetitive chorus taunting your haters. “No Bars” is a track performed entirely by JT, who if you had to choose, is more of the rapper’s rapper of the duo. It’s a shot-sending freestyle where she asserts that the only thing that can go against her is her own anxiety. There’s an inspired bar where she says she’s a big dog and her foe is a Scrappy Doo, and another one that’s a little out of pocket in a politically correct sense. That’s what you get with City Girls. “Line Up” is the duo’s tendencies at their worst – Yung Miami sounds like she’s falling asleep on the hook, her verse barely rhymes, and the beat is pretty nonexistent save for a boring trap hi-hat progression and an over-reliance on the dinging old-school percussion sounds that have been so prominent lately. It’s a little odd how sleepy this album can be at times when the City Girls are clearly at their best when they’re at the most in-your-face.

Tracks like “Show Me The Money” prove that Yung Miami would be on the level of a Cardi B or Megan Thee Stallion if she had an ounce of talent – because her verse here is so animated and charismatic, but messy enough from a musical standpoint that it’s hard to listen to. It’s another one in a line of tracks where it sounds like the duo is going through the motions, mumbling about getting money in every way they can on the chorus. “Emotions” kicks off a run of interesting features that show that City Girls thrive most when they’re in more of a supporting role. Muni Long sounds great as usual, hitting some impressive notes on her hook, and the mixing hits a little harder to boost it up even more. Juicy J appears on “Fancy Ass B***h,” where the three performers shamelessly accept their roles on rap’s sillier side and trade some over-the-top bars. JT’s voice is at its most nasal, high-pitched and personality-driven while relishing in her role as the high-class woman that everyone is looking for, and the chopped-up soul sample in the back just adds to the overall enjoyability by adding some musicality to the ridiculousness up front. Usher’s hook falls a little flat melodically on “Good Love” – not to mention that I’m unsure I want to hear some of his more scandalous lyrics at his age – but it’s still cool to hear him on the track, and the City Girls make the most of an uptempo, almost drum-n-bass beat.

The back-to-back tracks “Work For It” and “I Need A Thug” are both far too short and based around lazy samples – the first taking on “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and the latter LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.” Feeling like desperate grabs at TikTok fame without much memorable to back them up, they kick off a mostly forgettable second half of the album. A crossover with Kim Petras on “Flashy” could have provided the shot of uniqueness that this album really needed, but her hook is the opposite of flashy – it’s really melodically unadventurous and stale, and her performance makes it sound like this unexpected union was as unnatural as you might have thought, arranged by the obligations of a label. The track coasts on a watered-down version of her disco-pop sound. “Face Down” isn’t much musically, though its feminist, sexually empowered flip of 2 Live Crew’s increasingly outdated classic can be celebrated. “Wigs,” however, is hilarious. The absolute passion that this duo showcase, throwing every bit of themselves into a track that’s literally about the many different varieties of wigs they have in their closet, is exactly what I want to hear from these two big personalities.

The mixed bag of the album continues until the very end – “What You Want” sounds a little too much like “Tap In,” with the inflections and flow right out of the Saweetie playbook. That’s a little concerning, because Saweetie is already a bit of a Waluigi herself (a clone of a clone). “Tonight” adopts yet another sample, this time featuring the duo paying their respects to Lil Kim and her track “Not Tonight.” It’s a track where they take a more melodic approach to the chorus over an old-school R&B bassline. It livens things up a little, but like most of their work, the fun parts only hold up depending on how much tolerance you have for the City Girls trying to sing. “Survive” is another short one where they attempt to define what it means to be a city girl, before “F**k the D to the A” flips Tee Grizzley’s minor rap hit into a track where they come out guns blazing against everyone who isn’t them.

There’s honestly not a ton of need for a City Girls review – what they do is going to attract people who want to hear it no matter what, especially as they expand what they mean to the media landscape and attract new eyes through other ventures. While there’s not much to be found for a diehard music fan, sometimes a little fun is appreciated.

Favourite Tracks: Fancy Ass B***h, Wigs, Pinata, Emotions

Least Favourite Track: Line Up

Score: 5/10

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