“Culture” is the second album released by Migos since their formation in 2009. (Photo courtesy of 300 Entertainment)
Benjamin St. Pierre
Atlanta, GA rap trio Migos’ “Culture” is a proclamation of their undeniable impact on not only the current state of trap music but also of popular music in general. “Culture” is appropriately titled, as Migos continue to do what they do best on this album: feature their distinct flows, trap beats, and creating fun, energetic music.
Their stardom has continued to grow, especially due to how much “Bad and Boujee” has blown up, and this album is ample evidence that artists Quavo, Offset and Takeoff will not be running out of ideas any time soon.
“Culture” is the first of the 13 tracks and features ad libs from DJ Khaled. The beat has some sort of jungle-sounding percussion in the background, which provides the perfect backdrop for Migos’ signature robotic, technical trap flows. It is a nice dichotomy and solid start to the album.
“T-Shirt,” while the recipient of a lavish music video, is slower than “Culture,” and it features lurching, reversed synths behind slower flows and some auto tuned crooning.
“Call Casting” is a highlight of the album. Featuring glistening, peppy piano leads, a retro-sounding synth, and Takeoff leading off the song with a confident hook, the entire song is an exercise in being boastful. It is incredible. The trio’s flows are always on point but really complement this instrumental well.
“Bad and Boujee,” featuring Lil Uzi Vert, is the biggest song on this album, and has made the rounds online for its “rain drop, drop top” line from Offset in the hook. Its instrumental features a sour piano line interspersed by higher-pitched pianos around the chorus, and it is lovely. The song doesn’t feature any Takeoff, but features an entertaining verse from Lil Uzi. It is a fire verse worthy of a fire song.
“Get Right Witcha” is decent. There is a pretty flute and bell line in the background, but the beat is quiet in comparison to the vocals. This could be a song that grows on you with multiple listens, though.
“Slippery” features Gucci Mane, and an insane, dirty synth lead from the very beginning of the song that makes it clear this song will be a banger.
“Big on Big” is produced by Zaytoven, so a beautiful, technically-performed instrumental is to be expected, but this instrumental seems to be a bit too much. There is a lot going on, and while the intention (clearly) is that Migos is big and this is a big beat, it could have been a lot tighter of a track with less happening and if it was shorter.
“What the Price,” a favorite on the album, is a lot sadder of a track than any others on the album. There is a depressing-yet-beautiful deep piano line, and all three interrupt the others’ crooning and rapping into the beat, almost like all their thoughts are running about untamed. This song’s darker elements need to be something the Migos explore further.
“Brown Paper Bag,” another Zaytoven beat, has that classic Migos feel. Nothing too extraordinary here, but the regular trap beat and quick flows is a formula that works.
“Deadz,” though, featuring 2 Chainz, is a return to the confident message of the album. Featuring a triumphant, symphonic horn section and heavy bass, this is a humongous song. The 2 Chainz verse is short, but this song is more about the beat and the artists flowing well on it than expecting anything too amazing lyrically.
“All A**” is mainly about Quavo, and was more than likely designed to be a club banger. Just look at its title. But it is a nice song.
“Kelly Price,” featuring Travis Scott, has a synth line that is reminiscent of some sort of action movie or classic video game. It is hard to explain, but it creates a really interesting sound when paired with Travis Scott and Migos’ voices and the sample of a woman’s scream. It is yet another entry into the darkness begun by “What the Price,” and while it is pretty long, it is an enjoyable experience.
“Out Yo Way,” sadly, is an underwhelming finish to an otherwise fun and huge album. It has a lot of pop sensibility to it, being led by Quavo’s sung vocals, but it is too long and does not offer much. Also, the echo on the vocals is way too noticeable.
Overall, Migos relies heavily on auto tune and singing on this album, but their robotically-precise flows are a force as omnipresent as banger beats and beautiful instrumental arrangements.
Quavo, Offset and Takeoff undoubtedly have an ear for pretty production, and their distinct trap flair has gotten them this far, but they explore sounds in songs like “What the Price,” “Deadz” and “Kelly Price” that are as eerie and haunting as “Call Casting” and “Bad and Boujee” are chart-topping trap bangers.
The trio’s chemistry is apparent, and their flexibilities as artists, whether through fast, technical trap flows, auto tuned crooning, or anything in between, guarantees that they will not get pushed from their place atop the culture any time soon. This album is big and boastful, and it certainly is a reminder that Migos are still the kings of the sound they have pioneered in recent years.