She doesn't work jobs, she is a job. With a lauded new podcast, more music on the way and big goals to achieve, City Girls' Yung Miami is set on building an empire.
Interview: Georgette Cline
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands soon.
There's a select few artists whose indelible colloquialisms are forever ingrained in pop culture, and Yung Miami is talking that talk. Since emerging in 2017, as one-half of Miami rap duo City Girls, her signature phrases—“period,” “flewed out” and “City Girls” included—with group member JT have gone beyond lyrics. Social media handles, Instagram captions, graduation caps, a T-Mobile commercial and even Diddy emphasizing The Notorious B.I.G.’s greatness with a “Period” during the music mogul’s Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech at the BET Awards earlier this year signify the City Girls’ impact.
The longtime friends have established their place as hip-hop’s racy yet playful tandem. The albums Period in 2018, Girl Code that same year and City on Lock in 2020 introduced their lascivious, get-money anthems. “Take Yo Man,” “Act Up,” “Pussy Talk” featuring Doja Cat and the Cardi B-assisted “Twerk” are self-explanatory song titles, but Miami and JT’s celebratory adages and humorous quips take them over the top. They’ve got gold and multiplatinum certifications, the backing of Quality Control Music and Motown Records, plus a fandom that rides for them just like Yung Miami did for JT when the latter had to do a nearly two-year prison sentence in 2018 for credit card fraud.
Miami, born Caresha Brownlee, kept the momentum of the group going by performing on her own during JT’s bid. As the City Girl who prides herself on her fun energy, Miami is the rap best friend everyone wishes they had. Her Instagram Lives are an invitation to the turn up. Miami’s candid commentary on the social platform sparked the idea to launch her very own podcast, Caresha Please, which debuted on Diddy’s REVOLT this past June and has consistently earned millions of views. Diddy, with whom Miami is romantically linked, Kevin Gates, JT, Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie and Latto have all taken a seat for what Miami describes as “real, raw and uncut” conversations.
As the 28-year-old rapper embarks on this new career path, what does that mean for City Girls? The mother of two sets the record straight with XXL while picking up her son from school on a late August day. From dating Diddy, to overcoming a breakdown, to acting alongside Eddie Murphy and more, Yung Miami keeps it real.
XXL: First of all, congratulations on your new podcast, Caresha Please. You keep on grabbing headlines. What’s the story of how that came together behind the scenes?
Yung Miami: People just loving to hear me talk, you know? Whenever I talk or whenever I go on [Instagram] Live, it go viral. So, one day I was talking with Diddy and he was like, “Yeah, [you] should do a podcast. It would be good for you,” and that’s how it came out. It was just a conversation of me just always going viral off the way I talk and the engagement that I used to get off of Instagram Live.
What’s a goal that you want to accomplish with this new podcast endeavor? I want to take it to the next level. I want to be like—I think she has a podcast now—a person like Wendy Williams. I’m dreaming big. I want to go to the highest of the highest. I want to be the Black Oprah.
People relate to you a lot because of how you’ve described yourself as a goofy person. It shows on social media. How did that come about in your personality?
You know what’s so crazy? I really think I’m a shy person. I really think that I’m very goofy and bubbly and open around my friends, but I do it on my [Instagram] Live. I do it in the privacy of my home, but I’m broadcasting it for everybody to see. So, it comes off as, “Oh my god, I love her. She’s my friend.”
When I’m private with my friends and my family, I’m very open and I’m going to have fun and I’m going to do whatever. And I get on [Instagram] Live because I’m in the privacy of my home. But when I get in front of people, I’m kinda shy. But once I get to know you, we are going to have a good time. Growing up in school, I wasn’t a class clown, but I was kinda like a fun girl with my group of friends. So, if we are out at a party, I would be with my group of friends and we would be getting lit.
In the music business, there’s a lot that comes at you all at once. You tweeted you had a breakdown in August. How did you overcome that?
I just had to go through it. I feel like I work a lot, so, I never really get time to go through my emotions. I’m always on plane to plane, city to city, state to state. It was just one of those days where I had just got off an airplane and I had to be back on an airplane the next day. When I got to the airport, I missed my flight. I tried to get on another flight and I missed my other flight. It was just one of those moments. And I was just like, listen, I’m just having a bad day and it just all came down on me because I haven’t had a chance to have me time.
It was one of those moments where I got really depressed and I had to take off work and I had to go through that emotion. I didn’t have time to go through that emotion because I was working so much that I hadn’t had time to sit down and just really take care of myself. I just think you have to really go through the emotion. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to not be OK. And it’s OK to express that you need a break or you just overworking yourself. I just feel like it was one of those situations.
You made solo songs like “Rap Freaks” and “Strub Tha Ground” in the past. Are you planning to record and release any more solo music?
No, I just really want to fuck with City Girls. I just felt like once JT got out [of prison], COVID hit, so it kinda set us back a lot. We haven’t had an album since she’s been out of prison. We released an album when she was in prison. We had to use some of her verses to make a song. I feel like we are the City Girls now. I think it’s very important to just focus on a group because we haven’t experienced the moments together where we really dropped an album since she’s been out of jail. We haven’t been out on tour. We are about to go on tour next month. So, I just really want to focus on City Girls because I feel like it’s our time. We haven’t had our shine together as a group yet.
For the record here and for the fans, City Girls is still 100 percent together, correct?
Of course, we are still together. Before we started rapping, we was always close friends. I don’t feel like we should let the music industry, fans or anybody come between us as a rap group. Outside of a rap group, we are friends. I’m never going to let no fans or no industry or no money get between our friendship. Our friendship feels like family.
I’ve been knowing [JT] for half my life. So, you think I’m going to start doing music with you and let these people get our ears and say, “Hey, y’all should go solo.” Solo for what? People like her for why they like her and people like me for why they like me. We are better as a group. I always feel like two is better than one.
Where do you feel City Girls fit as a rap duo right now?
I feel like the City Girls are very iconic. I feel like we will be legendary because, in our generation, we are the only girl group right now. We did a lot. I feel like we brought the slang, like the way we talk. I feel we brought a different type of feel to the rap game—just like the way we talk, the way we dress, the way we represent sisterhood. I definitely feel like we’ll go down as a legendary girl group of our generation.
Are you ladies working on a new City Girls album?
Yeah. We were supposed to drop. We do have an album. It was supposed to drop on July 29, but, you know, it’s a lot putting out an album. You have to get records. You have to get sample clearance. You have to get features cleared. You have to do producers’ agreements. So, it was a lot that set us back. We plan on dropping an album very soon. I don’t want to give a date because I said it was dropping on July 29 and we got a lot of backlash [when we didn’t release the project]. We will be dropping an album before the year is out for sure.
Is there a song that you’re really excited about that’s on the way?
I’m excited about this song that we got right now. It’s called “Percocets Pink,” but I don’t think that’s going to be the title of the song. But I just love that song. It’s just a very different sound for me. I’m on the hook and my voice is very different and JT come and it’s a fun song. I personally think it’s the best song on the album and, of course, “Good Love” with Usher.
A big part of your life is motherhood. How do you balance being a mom of two while also being an artist?
It’s pretty easy for me because I have help. My mom watches my kids and my son is 9 years old and he’s in the backseat. He knows that I’m a rapper. He understands my job. So, it’s not like, “Where’s my mom?” He be watching my videos. “Mom, you got a show?” I just did Rolling Loud in Miami. I was able to bring him to the show. He’s been with me to the BET Awards.
So, it’s kind of easy having help with my mom. I don’t have a nanny, I have a mom. I’m not worrying about my kids because I know my mom is taking care of them and she is going to raise them how she raised me, which is perfectly fine.
You also co-parent your daughter with producer Southside. How do you navigate that with also being in the public eye?
Yeah, that’s my baby daddy. He’s real cool. I’m not gonna lie, at first, it was kind of rocky, but, you know, we had to put our differences to the side and just understand that we got kids together. We can’t raise our kids in a bad environment because it really takes a toll on the kids.
Dating is a very real conversation you had on your podcast. You got right to it with asking Diddy, “What we is?” He confirmed you’re dating. In the moment, were you pleased with his response?
We are dating. We single, but we’re dating. People don’t know what dating means. He’s single, I’m single, but we’re dating. That’s what I mean when I say we go together. When we’re together, we’re together. We’re having the time of our lives, but we’re still single.
He see other people outside of me and I see people outside of him. I’m young. I’m dating. I’m, you know, having fun. I’m doing me. He’s doing the same thing. I can’t speak for exactly what he doing or who he seeing, but we single and we dating. But we are dating each other, but we single. I think it just went over people’s heads, you know? People just like to take whatever they wanna take from.
What’s something about him that you like or know about him that others may not?
He’s very funny. He’s supportive and I feel like he brings a different side of me that—I won’t say that I didn’t know that I had—he brings out a better side of me. He dig deeper into me to say, “OK, you’re this and you’re that. And you don’t need this, you have that.” He brings out the better qualities of myself. That’s one thing I love about him. He brings out more confidence in me.
You’re getting into acting more. Have you had any roles that have come your way?
I did two TV shows and I did a Netflix movie. The movie that I did, it stars Lauren London. It has La La Anthony. It has Nia Long, Eddie Murphy. So, I’m up there with the big actors. It should be coming out I would say October or November. It should be out before the year is over with. I don’t want to spill it. I got a role. It’s a comedy. It’s very funny. You are going to see me on the TV screen. They changed the name, so I don’t know the new title of it.
What other goals in music do you want to achieve this year?
I want to get a No. 1 on Billboard. I want our album to go No. 1 on Billboard or just a single. All the City Girls and City Boys, when you are reading this interview, when you are listening to this interview, get us to No. 1 when we drop. I want us to have a No. 1. I want us to be successful. I just want us to go up. I want to have a No. 1 song on the radio. I want to have the No. 1 song on the charts. The No. 1 song everywhere. I want to perform on every awards show. I’m just ready to go up in our career. I feel like it’s time. We have been rapping for a while and it’s time for us to get our breakthrough.
Are there any women in rap right now that you are paying attention to or proud of to see their career growing?
Yeah, I like GloRilla, the “Fuck N***a Free” [song]. I love her. Every time I see her, it just make me so happy. She remind me of like the City Girls when we came out, when they did the “Fuck N***a Free” song with her and her friends. I’m like, Damn, that was me and JT. Three or four years ago, that was us. It just makes me so happy. It gives me chills. I’m so excited for Megan [Thee Stallion]. She just dropped her album. She’s been through a lot. I’m just excited for every woman in the industry right now that is doing their thing, feeding their family and doing what they love. Latto, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B. I’m excited for everybody.
Read the interview with Yung Miami in the 25th anniversary issue of XXL magazine, on newsstands at the end of September 2022. Check out additional interviews in the magazine, including our cover story with Eminem, Bobby Shmurda, JID, GloRilla, Yvngxchris, Sleazyworld Go, Styles P, Jim Jones, Symba, Reason, singer Jessie Reyez, actor Trevante Rhodes and music executive Katina Bynum. The issue also includes a deep dive into a narrative piece on the U.S. court systems' battle against rap lyrics, rappers’ longstanding connection to anime, the renewed interest music supervisors have in placing 1990’s hip-hop in today’s lauded TV series and the 254 past covers in XXL history.