Reviews

New Music: Migos – Culture II

Despite being on the label Quality Control, Migos’ latest album is an exercise in the opposite.

CULTURE II IMAGE

2017 in hip-hop was the year of the Migos. The year began with the continued success of their hit song “Bad and Boujee” after its intense meme-ification. They followed it up with the highly successful and fantastic album, Culture. The album kept the Migos in the limelight all year. They stayed busy, whether beefing with Joe Budden, member Offset’s engagement to Cardi B, appearing on the Quality Control: Control the Streets Vol 1., Without Warning, and Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho, or being featured in a seemingly uncountable number of singles. Needless to say, the follow-up to Culture was a significantly anticipated release for the trio. Unfortunately the album only continues to feed the narrative that sequels are never as good as the original.

Culture II is a continuation of the Migos sound that was heard on previous album. Each member comes through with their trademark flows and ad-libs, even adding new ones to their growing repertoire. The vast majority of the album heavily features member Quavo, but the Migo that stands out the most is Takeoff. Between Quavo’s project with Travis Scott, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho, and Offset’s project with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, Without Warning, hip-hop has been overwhelmed with their voices. The fact that Takeoff hasn’t been in the limelight as much as the other two makes every verse of his sound refreshing and unique. Standing out amongst the 24 tracks seems a difficult task when the album is so Quavo heavy, but on tracks like “White Sand” and “Notice Me” Takeoff delivers.

Despite being one of the few remaining rap groups in a time where most rappers appear as a solo acts, the Migos recruited top notch talent to appear alongside them. 21 Savage, Drake, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott, and Post Malone are only a few of those who provide their unique voices to the album, sometimes with a full verse or just a simple hook. The song “Walk It Talk It (feat. Drake)” is guaranteed to become a hit due to Drake’s presence and an infectious chorus. Not only did the Migos bring in top features, but they surrounded themselves with incredibly talented producers. As expected, many of the tracks were produced by DJ Durel and Quavo, with a few contributions from “Bad and Boujee” producer Metro Boomin. Two songs in particular are produced by surprising collaborators. “Stir Fry,” produced by Pharrell, and “BBO (Bad Bitches Only),” produced by Kanye West and Buddha Bless, are two of the finest moments in the dense tracklist.

Even though the Migos brought in a lot of talent to assist them in this album, Culture II is just is far too long. At 24 tracks in length, with no skits, the album has a runtime of an one hour and 45 minutes. The length begs the question of whether the full album is worth listening to, considering the same amount of time could be used to watch Disney-Pixar’s Oscar Nominated film, Coco. The extremely long length would be more palatable if the album were sonically unique, but many of the beats feel cut from the same cloth. The Migos only slow the pace down after 20 songs when they get to tracks “Notice Me (feat. Post Malone)” and “Made Men.” Not only are many of the tracks sonically similar, but there are many moments that feel phoned-in by the trio. The song “Open It Up” is nearly the exact same melody and chorus as “Deadz” from their previous album. Songs such as “Beast” are lyrically forgettable when repeating boring hooks like “She a lil beast (beast), she a lil, she a lil beast (beastie)”. Quavo’s influence as a producer is evident, as he raps the chorus in most of the tracks, which only makes the album feel more repetitive.

Even though the album’s long length and repetitive lyrics make it a chore to listen through, there are still the bones of a great album within the tracklist. If the trio and their management had stressed quality over quantity, they could cut the album down to a fantastic 43-minute album. Below is a better tracklist, where a majority of the filler tracks have been cut out.

  1. Higher We Go (Intro)
  2. Narcos
  3. BBO (Bad Bitches Only) [feat. 21 Savage]
  4. Auto Pilot (Huncho on the Beat)
  5. Walk It Talk It (feat. Drake)
  6. Stir Fry
  7. White Sand (feat. Travis Scott, Ty Dollar $ign & Big Sean)
  8. MotorSport (feat. Nicki Minaj & Cardi B)
  9. Notice Me (feat. Post Malone)
  10. Made Men

Culture II could’ve started off 2018 as another great year for the Migos, but the album just inundated hip-hop with too much of the group instead. However, modern listeners may not be looking for an album thats diverse and works a single piece of art. By throwing out twenty some odd songs, the Migos are asking that they get lucky and one lands a spot on top of the charts. This method may be more successful than producing well thought out cohesive albums and provide the group with lasting relevance throughout 2018. Industry forecasters expect Culture II to be the No. 1 album of the week ending Feb 1st, so perhaps quantity truly is better than quality.

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