Hip-hop fans are fickle in the internet age. One minute they’re chanting your name and championing you as the next big breakout of the year. The next they’re slandering you on Twitter, telling people how awful your music has become since you’ve gone mainstream. Being a hip-hop act with the rise of social media has put many artists in a no-win situation. Atlanta group Migos were the Cinderella story of 2013: they gained national attention and surprised many with their “Versace” single that eventually boasted a remix verse from Drake. This led to a string of hit singles off of mixtapes before dropping a studio album in 2015 titled Yung Rich Nation. Many fans hopped off the bandwagon around this time and found a new group to champion as YRN didn’t meet their expectations.
It’s not uncommon for artists to return with a vengeance after their popularity dwindles (see Cam’ron, Juicy J, & 2 Chainz in recent years). This is what happened to Migos at the end of 2016. Lead by the Lil Uzi Vert featured single “Bad & Boujee”, the three wise Migos (Quavo, Offset, & Takeoff) emerged from the flames we had cast them in like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did in the Bible. Instead of giving up, Migos took that fire and used it to create some of the hottest music you’re going to hear in 2017.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or trying to jump back on the Migos bandwagon, Culture is going to give you everything you want from the trio. There are ridiculous stories of meeting with the plug (“Swear to God my plug was Vietnamese” from “Get Right Witcha”) and the rapid fire flows that prove that these young men are not a fluke. What draws many to Migos is they tell their trap stories in a way that’s different than every other trap rap you’ve heard. While we’re used to slow flows and catchy ad libs (Jeezy & Gucci) Migos spit at a pace that’s reminiscent of Bone Thugs’ double time flows. Culture doesn’t follow a storyline from the beginning to the end of the album but each record serves as an anthology of tales from their trapping days.
Lyrically Culture is hit and miss but what are you to expect when the hottest record in the country starts with “raindrop, droptop” (and it’s one of my favorite songs right now). For every catchy lyric in the chorus of “T-Shirt” and “Get Right Witcha” there’s a “going big, whale” like on “Big on Big”. Let’s face it: you’re not listening to Migos for their lyrical content. When you put on a Migos record you want to hear Quavo tell us about the ludicrous meetings with the plug, the trap beats, and the party atmosphere their music brings. This is exactly what they’re bringing you on Culture. Sans a subpar combination on “Deadz” (Offset is the only one to save the song) this is an album that you can throw on while you’re pre-gaming before a night out or before you’re getting ready to hit the gym. The album starts strong with the title track and a feature from DJ Khaled reminding us that this is Migos world and we’re just living in it. Many cited Yung Rich Nation as suffering from sequencing issues and Migos must have heard these cries. From the intro to midway through the album there are nothing but hits as “Culture” is followed by “T-Shirt”, “Call Casting”, “Bad & Boujee”, and “Get Right Witcha”.
Even though the album starts strong it’s the end that really excels. “All A*s” is a track you’ll be hearing soon at a strip club near you and the Travis Scott featured “Kelly Price” will have you thinking you can sing as great as the gospel singer. While there are controversial lyrics on the chorus (“she gone eat this molly like it’s rice”) this song is setting us up for the joint project that Scott and Quavo plan to deliver to us soon (hopefully). The trio aren’t all party though as “Out Yo Way” is an ode to the women that go the extra mile to take care of Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff.
Many hip-hop fans had written this Atlanta trio off as one hit wonder status or a “fad”, a fate similar to that of Travis Porter before them. Migos decided against letting that happen, rising from the grave like The Undertaker and giving us a solid sophomore album. It’s not uncommon for an artist or group to return with a second wind after being written off. However it’s rare that your sophomore album is better than your freshman release and Migos will now be listed in this illustrious category with Culture.
Repeatable: “T-Shirt”, “Bad & Boujee”, “Get Right Witcha”, “Kelly Price” feat. Travis Scott
Skippable: “Deadz” feat. 2 Chainz
By Joe Coad