C U L T U R E
Culture (stylized: C U L T U R E) is the 2nd studio album, and the 16th official project from Atlanta Hip-Hop trio Migos. To put this into a bit of context, the Migos broke out into mainstream hip hop in 2013 with their hit single "Versace", which featured a very successful remix feature from a still up and coming Drake. Since then, the Migos have had a consistent following within their fanbase, but really failed to capitalize on getting back into the mainstream of hip-hop with their multitude of projects. Even so, the group has managed to stay relevant in the southern hip-hop culture thanks to a few gimmicky tracks/street anthems such as "Handsome and Weatlhy", "Look at my Dab", "Pipe it up" etc. Indirectly, these few singles helped influence the mainstream hip hop culture to adopt the Migos triplet flow, as seen on songs like Drake's "The Language", A$AP Rocky's "Purple Swag Pt.2", and even Kanye's use of this flow in Rick Ross's "Sanctified". So it was just a matter of time before the Migos found themselves back into the graces of mainstream hip-hop which they successfully reintegrated themselves into with the 2016 hit "Bad and Boujee" and from there, they successfully released their highest charted commercial project which is this "Culture" album right here.
Make no mistake, there are definitely bangers on this album and in the context of this album, there are about 2 songs that this project could do without, but overall this project is still one of the better constructed albums of this past year. We already knew the Migos trio could rap, with Quavo providing the catchy hooks, Offset with the crazy flows, and Takeoff with the crazy wordplay that defines them as a group. In fact, Migos should never be considered a group that uses lyrically interesting concepts such as a Kendrick or a J. Cole. Rather what they should be viewed as is a group that brings an amusing amount of energy to their songs by the way of these banging instrumentals, varying triplet flows, and the clever use of ad-libs at the end of nearly every bar and that’s what this album brings.
This album starts out with one of the most hilariously misplaced songs on an album titled "Culture", as it sounds like the intro was actually recorded for DJ Khaled's previous album "Major Key", but somehow it didn't make it onto the album, so it ended up on this album as the intro track. You can specifically hear it in Takeoff's hook where he says "CULTURE album comin soon", which makes no sense because the album is already here. However, no one has ever faulted the Migos for being lyrically gifted, so in the context of this song, it is just a minor quirk. From here the album flows into what is probably, in my opinion, the best song on this album titled “T-Shirt”. Everything about this song is just well created, from the eerie, and consistently fluctuating, yet minimal instrumental to the simple, yet catchy hook by Quavo. The post-hook from takeoff is also very effective in creating the dark atmosphere on this song interesting.
After “T-Shirt”, the energy of this album stays consistently moving, as the next song “Call Casting” with its very mesmerizing mellow piano melody, combined with the wicked brass stabs keep the eerie, sinister feel of the album consistently moving. What really is amusing about this song, is the reverb on the vocals in the verses which was rarely felt on “T-Shirt”, are more present in this song and add detail to the murky, moody track. Successively, the single that skyrocketed the Migos back into mainstream success, and almost everyone has heard titled “Bad and Boujee” is the next track on this album. Not much is there to say about this Metro Boomin produced banger other than the fact that Lil Uzi Vert’s verse was absolutely unnecessary, and diluted the fun of this single with a rather awful verse at the end.
Here on, this album goes into some roller-coaster moments, starting with the song “Get Right Witcha” which is one of the more average tracks on this record. Although I appreciate the panflute that Murda Beatz uses in quite a lot of his songs, but this song feels like it should be on a mixtape instead of this album. Maybe why it feels this way is because this song has one of the most questionable lyrical moments, as far as this album is concerned, appears on this track as in Quavo’s verse, he gets a little derogatory and raps “Goin' to Chi-land with them chinks (chinks)”. The atmosphere of this album picks back up on the song “Slippery” which features Atlanta legend Gucci Mane, and Gucci’s verse is probably the best guest verse that this album has, because it fits so well with the vibe that the Migos are trying to establish. The Gucci verse to Takeoff verse transition is one of the best vocal transitions on this album, particularly because of how effective these lyrics starting from Gucci and ending with Takeoff counteract with each other “…And I'm a murderer, n***a, but I don't promote violence/Dead shot (brrt) AK make your head rock (brrt)/Red dot, retro Air Jord' deadstock…”.
While the two Zaytoven produced songs “Big on Big” and “Brown Paper Bag” are quality tracks instrumentally and do somewhat fit the minimalist theme of this album, they really add nothing to this album to make it memorable enough. This album could have done without these two songs and still been equally, if not even better quality wise. Mashed between these two songs is the Ricky Racks produced banger “What the Price” with the enjoyable guitar melody on the pre-hook and at the end, which just is so very entertaining when paired with the 808 bassline, and the sharp snare in the song. Personally, this is one of the most lovable songs on this album, particularly because Quavo’s ad-libs with autotune on the hook of this song start making him sound like Young Thug a little bit.
The grimiest track on this album that sounds the most like a street anthem has to be “Deadz” which features a forgettable guest verse by Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz. Even with the lackluster 2 chainz verse, Quavo’s playful hook combined with Takeoff and Offset’s amazing ending verses which has an additional melodic bell just raise the energy up so high that it is almost unforgettable. Following this song is the track “All Ass” is supposed to be a strip club banger, but really it’s just mediocre and feels like another filler on this album. This track doesn’t really even feel like it fits the minimalist theme of this overall album, chiefly because the bassline fights so much against the vocals on this that this song could have been done by any trap rapper and still would have been easily forgettable.
The penultimate song on this album, “Kelly Price” has the Migos enlisting Travis Scott as a guest feature, which just illustrates how well Travis fits in with the Atlanta trap vibe scene. The forthcoming Quavo/Travis Scott album might just be something to look forward to, considering how much Travis has borrowed from Atlanta’s trap scene, and in return, how much the Migos have borrowed in terms of vocal manipulation and effects from Travis Scott, specifically on this album. The final ballad on this album “Out Yo Way” is just forgettable, mainly because it is so boring and it really doesn’t fit the album.
In conclusion, this Migos restrained the tone of this album to be as dark and murky as possible. Most of the songs on this album follow this pattern and it gives the Migos the ability to flow effortlessly and cohesively through this album. There are a few songs on this record that could have been left out such as “All Ass”, and “Out Yo Way” and this album would have been near perfect. If you listen to this, just enjoy the energy and the mood of this album, which along with the very well executed flows, and backing vocals (specifically those ad-libs) just make this album repetitively amusing.