The City Girls’ JT starring in Mowalola’s Beats By Dre campaign offered an opportunity to reflect on her aspirations of representing women where she’s from: women from the hood. Immediately after the futuristic campaign imagery, shot by Hugo Comte, hit platforms like X and Instagram, some fans expressed their confusion with it. Despite that, it’s a defining image that personifies her current era as a female voice in hip hop–with this imagery, she’s challenging ideals of what is viewed as acceptable for women artists straight from the lineage of the titans that came before her: Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown. The risqué looks both of these artists executed allow the current crop of women in rap to conceptualize their images fearlessly. JT is a part of this lineage due to the successful blueprints laid down before her.
Years back writer and content creator Wanna Thompson wrote an essay exploring a specific notion entitled “Black Girls From The Hood Are The Real Trendsetters.” This essay came to mind as JT took to Instagram to defend her right to be a part of fashion spaces that may appear to be different from what her fans feel she might have set out to be a part of. “The hood’s influence is displayed in various fashion collections and Instagram profiles that resemble the women who are consistently labelled unkempt,” Thompson wrote.
In defense of her appearance in Mowalola’s campaign, JT shared: “I’ma do this [sic] for my people, girls who look like me and from the hood, they can do this,” the rapper said. “Because it’s not just for fashion people. Campaigns are not just for people who look a certain type of way–this [sic] is not just tailor-made.” This raises a point that further pushes the agenda forward that women in music at times subvert what fans might feel works best for them especially style-wise–it’s a juxtaposition that might land flat with some, but the experimentation typically is met with disconnect.
Women from unmoneyed backgrounds typically receive the most backlash, and JT is aware of all of these ideals, but she chooses to continue moving forward with experimenting. In recent months, she starred in a Poster Girl campaign which raised eyebrows for its raunchiness. In the past year, she’s also been choosing to wear Rick Owens, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Mowalola–Miso Dam, her current stylist, has largely been a part of this fashion evolution. Her late stylist and close friend, Monica Suh, was responsible for her shifting tastes too.
“Just because I’m from where I’m from does not mean I need to be in spandex and shark boots every [sic] day,” she continued on her Instagram Live. “I got IG baddie clothes, I got every clothes y’all could name. I choose to step outside the box.” This declaration is helpful as it notes how she is just getting started with her newly-fledged fashion era. Dressing sexy whilst pushing style barriers by wearing designers she’s never worn in the past is part of what she’s embracing right now in real-time.
“Y’all be wanting [sic] that y’all can easily duplicate so y’all can be like them,” JT added further noting that she’s not interested in being a cookie-cutter creation. “That’s the [sic] y’all praise because it’s easy for y’all to do.”
JT emphasizing that she no longer has an interest in dressing acceptably is what the Mowalola campaign is presenting. This buzzy campaign moment is a rallying cry for women from the hood deserving space to embrace high fashion, and create legitimate and enjoyable music, while also continuing to explore their femininity.