Migos went truly global back in 2013 with ‘Y.R.N’ mixtape track ‘Versace’, which was released as their official debut single. The track is outlandish, ridiculous even; an unashamed paean to a luxury fashion house whose name makes up 32% of the track’s lyrical content. However, its influence on the scene since has been undeniable and profound. Thanks in part to a remix from Drake, Migos’ triplet-heavy flows and excessive ad-libs became almost ubiquitous. Given this context the title of their second album doesn’t seem quite so pretentious.
Late night TV shows deemed it was “not the right time” for an appearance from the trio until a co-sign from Donald Glover - who declared‘Bad and Boujee’ “the best song ever” and compared them to the Beatles at the Golden Globes in January - forced them to reconsider. This spurred the mainstream to finally begin catching up to the trio, who are already superstars to hip-hop fans across the world.‘Bad and Boujee’ rocketed up US Billboard charts, snatching their first number one before the month was out.
Bizarrely, neither Quavo, Takeoff nor Offset open the album; but rather Snapchat’s favourite motivational speaker DJ Khaled. “For all you fuckboys that ever doubted the Migos,” he begins, “you played yourself.” Aside from the fact that ‘Culture’ was likely originally intended for Khaled’s ‘Major Key’ (“CULTURE album comin’ soon” raps Takeoff), this is an incredibly fitting introduction.
Migos follow the album’s title track with three which are absolutely undeniable. The undulating bass of ‘T-Shirt’ behind Takeoff’s staccato flow is delectable, as is the simple piano melody that underpins ‘Call Casting’. Then comes that moment of sheer gratification, the part where Offset utters those fateful worlds that sparked a thousand memes: “You know…”
From there, you know you’re in safe hands. Migos have perfected their brand of trap funk to the point where it is a little predictable: a producer tag to start, some rolling hi-hats and 808s here, something being whipped in a pot there… a sprinkling of auto-tune and some exuberant ad-libs complete the Migos’ formula. Expertly-selected features (particularly those from fellow ATLiens Gucci Mane & 2Chainz) however, inject welcome variation in the album’s latter half.
Migos are undoubtedly at the forefront of their niche; simultaneously defining their genre and pushing it forward to such an extent that it’s become impossible for mainstream pop culture to ignore. Sure, ‘CULTURE’ may be limited in its scope, but it delivers in spades everything one might have hoped for from “the Beatles of this generation.”
Words: Lewis Lister
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