I listened to the new Migos album & struggled to get past the first six tracks
Are the Migos done or nah?
Listening to the new Migos album is like listening to an 8-bit Sega Master System video game soundtrack. In fact, that’s probably quite offensive to an 8-bit video game.
To many they’re the cultural icons of today, and I get it. Often referred to as the Beatles of this generation, I just think that perhaps it’s all gone to their heads, and because of that the art is suffering. They’re saturating the market by being on everything and releasing new music as quickly as it’s made. So there’s a distinct lack of quality control, which is ironic being that their record label is actually named Quality Control Music.
Upon first listen I struggled to get passed the first six songs on Culture II. The day it landed in my inbox I pushed play and opened my ears in order to offer a fair critique - as I always do when reviewing an album - but I truly got stuck six songs in. I had to stop. My brain was heavy. My soul felt depleted. This did absolutely nothing for me. It felt so forced.
Lyrically it confused me. Aside from the usual and ultimately unoriginal braggadocios bars about what they have and what others don’t have, the rest just didn’t make any sense to me. It didn’t make any impact, and ultimately it made no dent on the part of me that chooses whether or not to care.
On “Supastars” Takeoff spits, “Ice the gang (ice), had to ice the gang (ice)/ So much ice (too much), had to ice the lane (whew)/ Freeze the dud (freeze), had to freeze the lame (freeze).” I’m all for a good bling bling record - I’m a pretty big Cash Money Records fan - but this is just monotonous, boring and lacking any form of substance. Even a form of materialistic substance delivered with some level of skill would have been better than this.
Is there any form of growth on Culture II? Let me see. Opening lines by 21 Savage on “BBO (Bad Bitches Only)”: “AP on me, iced out, tennis chains, iced out/ Whole pointers ‘round my neck, lookin’ like a lighthouse (shine).” Ok, so that’s a no.
What about the chorus on “Emoji A Chain”? “Ice out the gang (gang), make an emoji a chain (hey, ooh, ooh)/ Ice out the gang (gang), make an emoji a chain (woo)”. That’s also a no.
And when they’re not talking about ice or money, it’s the continuous chanting about trapping - which I’m pretty sure they’re not actually partaking in because if they were it could put all this legal money they’re making at risk.
On “Narcos” the first words are: “Trapping like a narco (narco)/ Got dope like Pablo (Pablo)/ Cut throat like Pablo (cut throat)/ Chop trees with the Draco (Draco)/ On the Nawf, got the Ye, go (Diego)/ Saying Hasta luego (luego).”
So what about the beats? Well, if I have to hear the same trap hi-hat and snare on a record that is so far from needing it one more time I’m going to lose my fucking mind. There are many times on Culture II where one song blurs into another, and then another, simply because the drum pattern is exactly the same as the last.
A serious lack of originality both lyrically and sonically halts Culture II from even getting out the starting blocks. Choosing not to build on their fame by using the platform they’ve amassed to do something a little more creative, Migos are as far away from impacting culture as I am from ever taking a picture with a live lion - why do people even want to do this?
Another thing that really struck me was the super forgettable Drake verse that appears on “Walk It Talk It” - I even missed it first time around. I knew Drake was on the album having peeped the tracklisting before I pushed play, but it passed me by like that girl did The Pharcyde. My brain couldn’t differentiate between Drizzy and either of the Migos, it all blurred into one.
Going back for a few more bites at the cherry, I was then able to identity Drake on the record, just. But his usually quotable-happy raps that quickly become your girl’s latest IG caption have dived into the nearest rabbit hole and ghosted. Did he hold out on Quavo and the gang, saving his best shit for someone less of a threat to his reign on top? That we will never know.
And let’s not pretend Drake’s use of the “Wo” flow is not another direct rip from UK culture. I’m pretty sure Krept & Konan might have something to say about it. Oh, and the only “talk it” lyric I truly acknowledge is Fiend’s on “Talk It Like I Bring It” so step your bars up Migos.
I can’t completely bin Culture II. There are a few moments I’ll take away with fondness. The first being “Stir Fry”. Produced by Pharrell Williams, it adopts a New Orleans bounce and is undeniably addictive. It’s fun. It’s everything you’d hope for from a Pharrell and Migos collaboration. It’s a club smash. And that’s precisely what the Migos are great at, creating something for people to enjoy in a club setting without having to think about it too much.
Then there’s the soul-influenced “Made Men”. An example of the growth I’d hoped for from Quavo, Offset and Takeoff, it’s almost worth combing through the 21 tracks prior - there’s 24 in total - just to to get to this point. Reflecting on their rise to prominence, the gentle piano keys that immerse themselves in the uncharacteristically - for the Migos, at least - soothing backdrop (provided by Nonstop Da Hitman) is a thing of beauty.
Just for the record, there’s nothing wrong with repetitive rap that lacks substance provided it has a fluent groove and a beat that perfectly marries whatever lyrical content is laid out over the top of it. It all has a place. It’s just there’s only so much you can take of it in album format. There’s only so much autotune, monotonous lyrics and repetitive sonics you can take as a human being.
If I were ever kidnapped and my captor wanted to interrogate me using torture, they could pretty much just play Culture II on repeat and I’d give up government secrets in a heartbeat.
Migos' Culture II is out now on Quality Control Music/ Motown Records/ Capitol Records.