Migos’ “Culture II” Aiming For the Billboard Top 200 #1 Spot
By Cristian Trandafir
Migos is a hip hop trio composed of Quavious “Quavo” Marshall, Kiari “Offset” Cephus, and Kirshnik “Takeoff” Ball. On January 26, 2018, the group released their third studio album, “Culture II,” which received an estimated 180,000-200,000 downloads during the first week of its release. “Culture II” is a revisit to “Culture,” the Migos album that brought them to national and international critical acclaim. The track “Bad and Boujee” off of “Culture” has gained more than 600 million views on YouTube since its release on October 28, 2016. Trailing in the legacy of other “Culture” singles like “T-Shirt” (over 200 million plays) and “Slippery” (over 170 million), Migos strived to infuse “Culture II” with the same flow and themes, hoping to shake modern culture with their melodic trap music and lyrical explanations of what their own culture looks like.
The album kickstarts with “Higher We Go.” Quavo sings an oath - “Higher we go, beg and plead for the culture,” referencing the Migos’ upward path in life and their dedication to creating and becoming a cultural phenomenon. Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset rap about living “Bigger than Oprah, Mayweather 50-0, culture,” again insinuating that they are the trendsetters. They are effortlessly changing the hip-hop community with their style and disregard for prior norms in Hip-Hop. “Supastars” emphasizes the group’s love for luxurious cars, expensive watches, and even private jets. Quavo also raps the line, “Whole gang in the field, we don't do bleachers, uh,” further demonstrating how he sees himself and his fans as trendsetters. They don’t stand in the bleachers - all his fans are players and therefore belong on the playing field. No one is left out; everyone changes the culture together, not by themselves.
With two tracks down, there are 22 left featured on the album. The total runtime of the album is 106 minutes and 18 seconds, nearly doubling “Culture’s” previous runtime of 59 minutes 19 seconds. “Motorsport,” the lead single off the album is 5 minutes 15 seconds worth of trap beats and rap verses. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj are featured on the track, showing the Migos’ influence across different genres of music and further strengthening their value of changing culture itself. “Stir Fry” is the second single off the album, lasting two minutes shorter than “Motorsport,” but still delivering the same punch with the instrumental. The verses are lacking, however, with the exact phrase, “In the kitchen, wrist twistin' like it's stir fry (whip it),” appearing more than twenty times in the track, and variations of the phrase appearing even more within Offset’s verse.
Much of the album contains repetitive and low-quality lyrics, like on the song “Narcos” where most of the bars consist of rapping about pills and using Latin American plays on words to deliver the Migos’ verses. Ad-libs are another big feature on the album, much like every other Migos song, but they become a drain on the ears less than halfway through the full listing. The same relentless flow that builds up hype on “Motorsport” begins to sound incessant and annoying on the weaker songs of the album, particularly on “Beast” and “Crown the Kings.” The instrumentals are lacking in melody and rely on the Migos’ ability to deliver their verses. Not every song the Migos release can be a “Bad and Boujee,” so the album contains its fair share of poorly produced and rapped tracks.
Despite this, the album is still cohesive to central themes. The closing track, “Culture National Anthem,” brings together all the major topics and dreams that the album is about. Quavo raps the final bridge saying, “We don't need stripes 'cause we got bright stars/We gon' still fight (fight) for that race car (car).” He finishes off the album with a parody of the US National Anthem, saying that the Migos don’t need the stripes on the flag because they are the biggest stars, and that they’ll fight for their right to change culture no matter what.