WPGM Recommends: Migos – Culture II (Album Review)

One of the undisputed biggest acts of 2017 and biggest breakthrough artists in recent years, the highly-anticipated trio Migos return in 2018, with their recently released third studio album Culture II on January 26. The new album features loads of appealing collaboration and catchy trap tracks, that they have come to be known for, making this opus appear as promising as their first one.

Migos do not need any introductions anymore. As a matter of fact, the iconic Atlanta trio fully embodies the new rap culture of the 21st century. The mighty band is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in Trap music right now, after a year that has propelled them to dominance in the ever-increasingly widespread genre. They have been steadily releasing bangers after bangers since their worldwide hit “Versace” back in 2013, when Gucci Mane took the group under his wing.

After they signed with his manager Coach K and went on to work with the super producer Zaytoven, the trio have been crafting some of the most entertaining and innovative new music from the city. Even though they started out independently, they ended-up working hand in hand with the label Quality Control, and have been killing the game ever since they released their smash hit in collaboration with Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad & Boujee”.

As mixtapes continued to drop non-stop whether together or on personal projects, the anticipation for the album has been very high. The resilient Atlanta-based trio has grown steadily a solid fan base over the years, that goes way beyond their own “Culture”. They successfully reached for a more mainstream pop culture audience when their sophomore album Culture debuted on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The Migos’ best asset is their continuous ability to present truly virtuosic rapping in ways that are commercially viable to a wider audience, which explains where they are today. In a recent interview with XXL, Quavo, and not without controversy, describe themselves as, “the young wave with a new way, we represent the young generation, we didn’t hide us out right now best group in the world we feeling good”.

Back in September in an interview with Montreality, the Atlanta trio presented their latest work as a masterpiece: “Culture 2 is a masterpiece man. We setting a trend, we started this whole lil wave, we started the whole genre, the whole flow, the whole melody. Ain’t nobody right now who can say they ain’t took our flow. We ain’t tripping, we never did trip. Hip-hop has changed in a big way, we changed it”.

Most songs on this album have their own energy, even though some of the songs seem like they could do with some more work being put into them, and aren’t fairly different to what Migos have already shown in the past.

The album starts with the notable introduction “Higher We Go (Intro)“, which is paving the way to what Migos know and do best – rousing productions, nimble flows and catchy beats, that have put them in the position that they are in today.

They succeeded in sharing the spotlight on Culture II with platinum-selling collaborators and brilliant producers. Adding some of the biggest names in the US Rap chart right now, to the record definitely contributes to elevate their work and the featured tracks are the ones we will definitely remember the most on this album.

Migos pull out the big guns on this one, featuring the Toronto-born rapper Drake among other remarkable names such as Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Ty Dollar $ign, Post Malone, Big Sean and Gucci Mane, on the 24-track LP.

Even though the lyrics are always true to the trio and their lifestyle, they might sometimes feel a bit repetitive and redundant as their favourite theme is constantly a rerun of how successful and wealthy they have become, or another of their key subjects: bragging about drug dealing.

In fact, some of the guest artists are definitely overshadowing Migos lyrically speaking, as they come with stronger bars, for example, 21 Savage on “BBO (Bad B***hes Only)” and Cardi B on “MotorSport”, but overall their ears for good music production is undeniable. Kanye West himself co-produced “BBO (Bad B***hes Only)”, on which Takeoff excels on his multiples verses.

With this album, they have once again effortlessly secured their place at the top of every album charts in the world, despite all their recent controversies. As both music and fashion trendsetters, Migos are painting the picture of a new trap scene and what their culture is all about these days.

Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset released the album’s first single “MotorSport” back in October last year. Collaborating with Offset’s future wife Cardi B and auto-proclaimed rap Queen Nicki Minaj, the Trap gurus gathered two of the most powerful female rappers in the game, and the track is already set to be a hit that will stick around for a while.

This track still provides all of the gut-punch power it delivered when it first dropped. Cardi’s verse is on point and she went off on this song confirming her recent status of number one, with references and bars such as “I’m the trap Selena/¡Dame más gasolina“, proving she is the real rap queen right now, while Nicki’s weigh in is still steady as well.

We’ve been lucky to witness a similarly holistic approach from Migos throughout their career and in this album, they just seem to have finally mastered their style and found their own approach to hip-hop which leads the way to Atlanta’s street vision on this LP.

On another note, Pharrell Williams definitely brings a touch of groove on “Stir Fry” and we get a N.E.R.D vibe from this track, which is certainly interesting for Migos to get out of their comfort zone and it definitely suits them.

Interestingly, the beat was originally intended for T.I. circa 2008. This track is one of the most interesting songs on the album for me, as Pharrell created a bright pop element to the single and proves the crew can navigate other genres apart from Trap music, and still turn it into gold.

Meanwhile on “Narcos”, a latin-tinged trap track that pays tribute to the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, we see Offset playing a character and address the trio’s unusual vocal. The tune which is composed of Latin guitar arrangements and Spanish ad-libs is somewhat reminiscent of their previous hit “Tony Montana” — and this song stands out from the other tracks we know: Migos can readily pull out.

This new record is an encore of the previous album Culture, while continuing to create a new chapter from the core of their own lifestyle. All in all, Culture II is the epitome of Trap in 2018 and it seems like the trio will stick around for a while, as they have now relevantly secured their place in the rap game.

With this project, one thing to note is that, as poor – lyrically speaking – as it may be holistically, there are still timeless melodies and catchy hooks throughout the record, the type that will, without any doubt, play in the clubs and will easily get rotation and satisfy their biggest fans.

The production on the record really elevates their art, and because of that, Culture II will be playing everywhere this year, without any doubt. With this album, Quavo, Offset and Takeoff are cementing their name in both the underground and in the mainstream, with a vast catalogue of number one hits over the album, even if some tracks could have been left aside.

It might not be the masterpiece they have pompously proclaimed it would be, but it will surely satisfy all the Migos aficionados. Migos’s Culture II is out now via Quality Control Music, Motown Records and Capitol Records, purchase it on iTunes here, and stream it below.

Words by Jeremy André

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