Do it for the Culture
2018 has treated hip hop group Migos well so far; following the release of their newest album, “Culture II,” the group was featured on the cover of “Rolling Stone” and reached the Billboard’s top 200. As of February 7, the album was sitting in the number three slot, with a billion streams in just 20 days.
The instantly iconic album “Culture” helped the popular hip-hop group Migos break into the spotlight in 2017. Now firmly established at the top of the hip-hop genre, Migos faces its biggest challenge yet: staying on top and producing a follow-up album to rival the quality of the original “Culture.” While “Culture II” got us hooked early with the releases “Stir Fry” and “Motorsport,” does the rest of the album deliver on the hype?
One of the keys to the success of “Culture II” is its innovative touch and willingness to experiment with tone and pace. “Stir Fry” was an example of this technique, and with a little help from producer Pharrell Williams, the song delivered an unorthodox beat that allowed Migos to incorporate its smooth and sharp vocals. This creativity is further showcased in “Narcos,” which blends seemingly-outdated instrumentals with a modern electronic rhythm to establish a song that feels multicultural.
However, no hip-hop album is complete without its features, and “Culture II” has plenty of big names to get excited about. The featured songs fall in line with the diversity of the album’s sound, with each song falling into a different category.
You have pick-me-up songs like “CC” (featuring Gucci Mane) and “Too Playa” (featuring 2 Chainz), which maintain a steady pace and let the artists rap freely to their own style. “Notice Me” (featuring Post Malone) offers a more emotional draw as Malone sings a soulful hook that brings out feelings of sorrow and endurance from the rest of Migos.
One of the biggest criticisms of Migos is that of the larger genre of modern rap: the same, mumbling lyrics regarding the same, worn topics. While this is, admittedly, found in some of the faster songs written to get people hooked, the criticism does not hold true for the rest of the album. There are layers upon layers of emotions, ideas, and expressions within this album. “Culture II” is an outlier from the “mumble rap” genre in that its songs deliver a different message with every listen. Take “Crown the Kings” for example, a song where at first glance it seems like the Migos are rapping about their jewelry and accomplishments. However, after listening to the song over, it becomes clear that the song’s real message pertains to the struggles the group overcame to reach the “throne” of the rap genre.
Whether it’s a party starter like “Supastars,” workout tunes like “BBO,” or a slower and more sentimental song like “Movin’ Too Fast”, Culture II offers a broad range of styles for any mood. The faster songs like “Walk It Talk It” and “Open It Up” layer Offset’s hard-hitting rap and Takeoff’s force between Quavo’s flowing chorus. In the album’s slower songs, the lyrics become more enunciated and powerful, as in “Top Down on da NAWF,” which pays homage to the group’s birthplace of north Atlanta. Quavo tells of the hardships Migos had to endure during their rise, singing “Boulders on my shoulder, weight’s on me/I will never fold up when it’s on me.” The message becomes motivational, fitting to the song’s story and the narrative of the album as a whole.
“Culture II” opened up a whole new auditory world for rap, providing a foundation for new artists to build upon. The myriad of new styles and beats opens up the genre as a platform to be experimented on by bold producers and talented rappers who continue to set the pace for the future. Music is best when fueled by emotion, and “Culture II” encompasses a wide spectrum of moods and feelings for any circumstance. Migos said it best: do it for the culture.