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City Girls - Period Music Album Reviews

City Girls - Period Music Album Reviews
Rappers JT and Yung Miami give the menstrual cycle top billing on a debut that showcases their synergy but doesn’t deliver the transgressive goods its title promises.


Periods keep nearly having a moment in music. In 2014, Tacocat took Aunt Flo to the beach on “Crimson Wave.” The next year, Kiran Gandhi, who played drums on M.I.A.’s Matangi tour and performs electronic music as Madame Gandhi, made headlines for running the London Marathon while free-bleeding to promote the truth that menstruating is a normal part of life. Jenny Hval’s most recent solo album, 2016’s Blood Bitch, was inspired by “the white and red toilet roll chain which ties together the virgins, the whores, the mothers, the witches, the dreamers, and the lovers.”

Miami duo City Girls’ debut full-length, Period, gives the monthly cycle marquee billing in hip-hop. On opener “Tighten Up,” the Girls in question—JT and Yung Miami—rap about period sex: “On my period, PMSing/And my nigga fucking on me, and I’m stressing.” Unfortunately, though, the title overstates the album’s menstrual content. There’s certainly no song called “Fuck the Pink Tax.”

Period is an album of high-price pussy platitudes delivered without much pleasure. From “Where the Bag At” and “No Time (Broke N** ga)”—which has nothing to do with the Lil’ Kim hit but does have the same percussion as the Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song)”—to “How to Pimp a N**ga” and “Millionaire Dick,” the duo’s wants are conventional: cash and cunnilingus, bags and baubles. Aside from the handful of times they drop the line “cum in his mouth” (a cliché too skeevy to reclaim), their lyrics rarely convey any carnal satisfaction beyond an exchange of services for goods. “Millionaire Dick” features lines like, “I’m one gold digger, shiesty motherfucker/All these bitches mad, I made these niggas spend a bag/Got him working overtime just to fuck my pretty ass.” It’s a gag that could fuel one or two songs, but the album’s titular promise of transgressive lyrics about women’s bodies is never fulfilled. Period is mostly just another collection of party tracks.

It’s through their collective energy, not their subject matter, that City Girls really shine. A track like “One of Them Nights” may be littered with bottle service tropes, but there are no moments of dissonance when JT and Yung Miami each tell the story of the same night from their own points of view. It’s a synthesis of perspective reminiscent of Run-DMC and Salt-N-Pepa, one that suggests City Girls have a lot more to give—not to mention yet another reminder that women rarely get tapped for the same key_and_peele_liam_neesons.gif-level collabs as the dudes. Even last year, two of hip-hop’s most powerful players, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, were only given discrete verses on Migos’ “MotorSport.” Imagine how much more of a gut punch that track would have been if each of these rappers had been involved in the other’s creative process.

Recent evidence of how insanely good it can be when women rap together is limited: Rico Nasty tapped CupcakKe for “Smack a Bitch (Remix).” Cam & China, twin-sister vets of jerkin’ crew Pink Dollaz, released an eponymous full-length in 2016 that featured some of the gnarliest tongue-lashings of the current decade—but the album’s cultural influence probably peaked when single “Run Up” played on an episode of “Insecure.” In fact, hip-hop’s best recent example of the awesome power of women collaborating may be Lil Bri, Ricci Bitti, and Rap-Unzel’s step-inspired “Over There.” Unfortunately, most people never heard that track because it was part of a challenge on the latest season of Lifetime teen reality competition “The Rap Game.”

Had Period spent more time on menstruation—or any other topic unique to City Girls—perhaps it could have been a game-changer. But despite the lyrical filler, it is a document of unity between women in hip-hop, and that alone makes it something rare and precious.

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