Migos – Culture II Review

By Julian Balboa

So it’s been a year since the Migos’s “Culture” was released, but where are we after a year of having the Migos in the public eye?

I think “Culture II” sums the answer to this question up perfectly.

“Culture II” is a heavyweight at 24 songs and a whopping hour and forty-five minutes long. Finishing the album for this review felt like a chore, which begs into question why an artist would put out so much music knowing a majority of it is mediocre at best. The first “Culture” had a tight and concise track listing at 13 songs, a little more than half of its successor. In a world that praises a “less is more” mentality, someone still thought it was a good idea to release an album with so much music when it worked out better to have a smaller tracklist in the past. It feels like someone took a handful of darts and threw them at a dartboard, hoping for as many to stick onto it for the sake of them tacking on. Just how many of “Culture II’s” 24 tracks will chart? Well, there are already two in “MotorSport” and “Stir Fry,” with the latter being used in NBA promotional material.

Last year’s “Culture” kicked off 2017 in style, complete with enjoyable hooks that contributed to its success. Here on “Culture II,” it’s the opposite. Bad hooks are sprinkled throughout. I’ve always felt since it was released, that “MotorSport” has an abysmal hook. Rhyming “sport” with itself, and then “cork” to “dork” to “sport” again. The hook to “Open It Up” is almost identical to the hook from the first “Culture’s” “Deadz,” which is frustrating when an artist promises better music over the course of a year. If it’s more of the same, does an artist’s sentiment truly carry any weight when they say it’s better? I think not, given what we’re dealt here on “Culture II.” Absolutely not.

The production on “Culture II” has an impressive repertoire of A-List producers, including Pharrell and Kanye West who both add fantastic tracks to the Migos’ canon. When the Migos stray from the usual formula, it pays off tremendously. Pharrell’s production on “Stir Fry” has a surprising amount of chemistry to the Migos, pairing with the trio’s chops in a way that elevates both artist and producer. The classical guitar sample on “Narcos” takes the beat to a different angle not found in a lot of trap music. The rest of the album’s production succumbs to genericism, with most of it blending in together. Frequent collaborator and highly regarded producer Metro Boomin handles the boards for two of the album’s most forgettable beats in “Higher We Go” and “Emoji a Chain,” leaving me dumbfounded after the success of “Bad and Boujee”.

The features on the first “Culture” were very enjoyable. 2 Chainz, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, and Travis Scott all contribute to the sum of the album’s whole while not overshadowing the Migos or underperforming. “Culture II” has the star power and the talent present on about a fourth of the tracks found in its runtime, but, more often than not, they can be a lot to handle all at once or completely overshadow the Migos. Post Malone delivers a smooth, melodic hook on highlight “Notice Me,” Nicki Minaj and Cardi B’s punchlines pack a wallop on “MotorSport,” Ty Dolla $ign and Travis Scott both excel on “White Sands, and 2 Chainz returns to energize the album near the end with the best feature to be found on its 24 tracks. At times, some of the album’s features add nothing overall. Big Sean, without fail, puts me to sleep, Gucci Mane’s verse on “CC” is disappointingly forgettable, and Drake phones it in for the radio hit on “Walk It Talk It.”

At one point, it was almost a general consensus that Quavo could do no wrong. Then he was found on a lot of the year’s biggest songs, which made his performances here on “Culture II” feel oversaturated. Too much of a good thing has proven to be Quavo’s weakness in a song, and it seems as though the solution is knowing when and where to include the autotuned crooning. For most of the album, it sounds like Quavo just sings for the sake of hearing himself on autotune. Though, when Quavo wants to give the people a good hook, he delivers. “Stir Fry” is an excellent example: having a very catchy (if not also a bit repetitive) hook from Huncho.

After “Bad and Boujee,” Offset bloomed into a Migo you couldn’t overlook. He shined on “Culture” and his features that followed. Now that a year has passed, however, people have caught on to his lyrical content and its lack of fresh subject matter. Flashy clothes and Patek Philippe watches seem to be a crutch found littered in his verses, and a good flow and cadence can’t save those issues. With that being said, a good beat usually finds Offset rapping to his fullest ability, but I wait for more interesting from him in due time. “Stir Fry,” “Walk It Talk It,” “Flooded” and “Notice Me” all contain solid Offset verses.

Of the three of them, Takeoff is the only Migo consistently delivering stellar verses on most if not all of the album’s songs. The man even handles his only hook on “Made Men” better than most of Quavo’s. Changing his flow on quite a few of the songs, witty and interesting references, and holding his own overall as a competent emcee. Stand out Takeoff verses can be found on “Made Men,” “Too Playa,” “Notice Me,” “Flooded,” “Crown the Kings,” “Narcos,”  and “White Sand.”

Overall, Culture II lacks the cohesiveness or replay value of the first Culture in the form of its length and not catchy hooks, with the group’s development showing other members shining more than others who had shined on its predecessor.

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