Migos, ‘Culture’ (300/Quality Control/Atlantic, 2017)


Talking with Alfred recently about the current #1 single in the U.S., I asked him, “Migos [and Lil Uzi Vert sure] love words, don’t they?” He replied with one word: “Logorrhea.” And he’s right. To a certain extent, you can use that word to sum up much of their second album, Culture. The ATL rap trio rap because they have to, they love to talk so much, they love the sound of words tumbling out of their mouths. And the reality is that you likely will, too.

Even though there are about 10 different producers/producing teams spread across the album’s 13 tracks, Culture sounds surprisingly consistent, spotlighting a woozy, son-of-chopped-and-screwed Southern aesthetic. This is of trap but it’s not just trap, and that’s a key. Trap can easily get very samey very quickly, and this never does. The album changes itself up just enough from song to song to keep things sounding mighty fresh. It also sounds like the sound of triumph, of the future, of guys who know just what they’re doing and are glorying in it. This ain’t just the sound of Black America, it’s the sound of young America. Taken alongside their #1 pop predecessors Rae Sremmurd, Migos are in charge right now.

No, this isn’t incredibly deep stuff, lyrically; Migos ain’t A Tribe Called Quest. But dismiss it out of hand at your peril; “Bad and Boujee”‘s conscious aspirationalism, for starters, is something that needs to be heard, and is so clearly explained over the course of its lyrics that it’s crazy. (Also, Lil Uzi Vert’s guest verse is pure joy.) Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz turn in fine guest turns as well. Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset drop cultural references with such aplomb they’re fun as hell to hear, and their incessant use of Auto-tune here is actually interesting; it becomes a part of their voices rather than a schtick.

2017 feels like it might be the year I get back into hip-hop in earnest (I grew up on the glory years of Yo! MTV Raps, Public Enemy, Ice-T, and N.W.A., for reference). If that comes to pass, Migos will be one of the major reasons why. B+


About thomasinskeep

I write about music.
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