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Migos “Culture II” album review: It’s deja vu with “Culture II”

The chains are still gold, the champagne still cold and the bank is still full

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Quavos of Migos at live performance. (Moses Vega/Unsplash)

Quavos of Migos at live performance. (Moses Vega/Unsplash)

Quavos of Migos at live performance. (Moses Vega/Unsplash)

Jack Hamm, Contributor

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Almost exactly one calendar year following the release date of “Culture,” Quavo, Offset and Takeoff releasedCulture ll”  into the music world on Jan. 26, continuing the saga. Once again the trio brings us to the heart of the North Atlanta trap scene heavily laced with big rings and diamond chains.

While the Migos compiled a modest 13 track album on the previous “Culture,” they almost double their effort on “Culture ll” boasting a whopping 24 songs running an exhausting hour and 45 minutes. A TSA agent wouldn’t let the Migos past security with the extra baggage on this album, and that’s barring the fact the metal detector would seize up from all their jewelry.

The content on “Culture ll” reassures the listener that the members of the Migos are still rich, if that was ever in question before. Atlanta’s favorite triangle still spit triplets of money, women, drugs and rags-to-riches ascension. All this still plays over ghost snare taps, triplet bass booms and the always popular flute rap melodies.  

Album length and content aside, there are gems hiding between filler tracks as the gang also employs some heavy artillery in features. Quality Control record label owner and manager of the Migos, Coach K, put in some hard-earned networking hours booking the likes of 21 Savage, Drake, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Post Malone and 2 Chainz as features.

Woah.

Are we sensing a trend here yet?

It might just be me, but the overindulgence of 10 BIG name features on a group already repping THREE rappers seems like deer hunting with an A-bomb, but maybe it’s compensation for the massive setlist. “White Sand” by itself featured Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign and Big Sean. With all that said, “Culture ll” probably should’ve been half as long.

“Culture ll” starts with “Higher We Go” followed by “Supastars” where we catch another album-wide trend. The Migos took a page out of T-Pain’s guide-to-hit-making, utilizing more auto-tune than ever right from the start. To their credit, experimentation like this takes guts. Trial and error are part of making great music and no one goes platinum after one experimental track. Quavo specifically goes really abstract distorting his voice to an almost ambient sound toward the end of “Too Much Jewelry.”

Songs like “Gang Gang,” a sleeper track, and “CC” (referring to Coco Chanel) featuring Gucci Mane use auto-tune and voice distortion pleasingly. “Gang Gang” especially has a unique aesthetic on the album with Drake inspired production that forms an R&B vibe that Migos may pursue later in their careers — if we’re so lucky.

Unfortunately, we also sit through tracks like “Beast” and “Movin’ Too Fast,” where the producer let their 3-year-old child come into work and turn the auto-tune dial as they please. Voice distortion is like candy, alcohol or really anything else, it works in moderation — but its overuse stands out more than Thomas Morton hosting Viceland’s “Noisey: Atlanta” series.

It seems every rapper wants to be like Pablo. Migos show off their southern accent-tinted Spanglish on “Narcos,” one of the highlights of “Culture ll.” The Netflix series, “Narcos” intro was sampled by Joey Bada$$ and Troy Ave before the Migos hopped on the trend. And that’s not criticism, every “Narcos” parody succeeded with gusto and Migos further prove that phenomena. To clarify, the Migos did not directly sample the “Narcos” intro, but the Latin drums and guitar guide the trap production in between verses.

After “White Sand,” the album challenges audience’s attention spans through half-hearted fillers like “Flooded” and “Open it Up,” which sounds like a carbon copy of “Deadz” from the first “Culture.” Thankfully, we get to the most publicized track — and probably the most commercially successful, “MotorSport.”

Quavo, Offset and Takeoff all deliver respectable verses, but it’s the two features that elevate this track to instant microwaveable radio supremacy. The current queens of hip-hop, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj body the production, especially the latter. Both weave in diverse rhyming tempos switching from triplets, and in Minaj’s case sixteenths back to quarter note syllables, all with enormous confidence, and rightfully so.

“Culture ll” is a roller coaster ride you rode a little too long but, as roller coasters do, it has its ups with its downs. Songs like “Gang Gang” and “Made Men” stand out from the unnecessary fluff, but may fade out of memory at the hands of the big feature songs like “White Sand” and “Motorsport.”

As it stands, the Migos are still the Migos, the chains are still gold, the champagne still cold and the bank is still full — although we haven’t seen the price tag for all the features yet so maybe not as much as we think.

Songs to check out

  1. “MotorSport”
  2. “Stir Fry”
  3. “Made Men”
  4. “Gang Gang”
  5. “White Sand”
  6. “Narcos”
  7. “BBO”

Email Jack at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @96Jackhamm.

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Migos “Culture II” album review: It’s deja vu with “Culture II”