Migos' follow up to Culture is excellent in places but is far too long and could be cut in half by removing the distinctly average filler.
Almost a year to the day since Atlanta rap trio Migos released Grammy-winning album Culture, they’re back with its sequel, the imaginatively named Culture II. Culture put Migos on the map, with the viral hit ‘Bad and Boujee’ sparking a social media craze whilst simultaneously topping the Billboard Top 100. In the following year, the trio have only increased their popularity, with rapper Offset newly engaged to rap sensation Cardi B and Quavo lending his auto-tuned vocals to artists ranging from DJ Khaled to Camila Cabello to even One Direction alumni Liam Payne. Thus, Culture II can be interpreted as almost a victory lap, in which the trio have indulged all of their musical curiosities simply because they can. Whilst this has resulted in some sparkling music, the album is simply too long. At 24 tracks and over an hour and forty-five minutes, Culture II becomes a battle of endurance. Nothing is particularly bad but whereas half the album is fantastic, the other half is merely average filler with the laziest criticisms of Migos (that they are repetitive and unimaginative) bearing some weight.
There are some very good tracks on the album. The 21 Savage featuring ‘BBO’ (Bad Bitches Only) is excellent, with the four rappers displaying great chemistry and confident flow. ‘Narcos’ is vibrant, a Pablo Escobar inspired jaunt which combines a Latin melody with Migos’ traditional trap vibe. ‘CC’, featuring Gucci Mane, is full of ethereal synths and pulsating bass and is a real toe-tapper. Culture II also features the trio taking steps outside of their trap-heavy comfort zone. ‘Too Much Jewelry’ combines the delicacy of a piano with the surreal use of a flute yet remarkably this auto-tune heavy track really works. ‘Too Playa’ features a jazzy saxophone in tandem with another trap heavy beat and ‘Made Men’ is R&B at its best, reminiscent of the soulful beats favoured by Rick Ross.
Although it is four tracks, in particular, that stand out as brilliant pieces of craftsmanship and music-making. The Pharrell Williams produced ‘Stir Fry’ fizzes with energy as it thumps along with its enormous bass and catchy beat and is already my early pick for Rap Song of the Year. Yet fierce competition is provided by ‘Motorsport’ which features two outstanding features from the aforementioned Cardi B and the Queen of Rap, Nicki Minaj. All snare beats and reverbs, ‘Motorsport’ is dominated by the excellence of the two female rappers who bring an intensity and ferocity which instantly elevates the track to another level. ‘Gang Gang’ grabs you instantly with its subtle bass line and haunting vocals which subsequently give way to a brilliant Quavo hook and a repetitive yet catchy chorus. The final exceptional track is ‘Notice Me’, which slows everything down and allows Post Malone to perfectly complement the surprisingly introspective trio.
However, in this instance, the adage ‘quality over quantity’ is certainly true. Too much of the album is monotonous, distinctly average trap which sounds like it has come from a particularly lazy recording session. Several features are also wasted in below-average tracks. Drake delivers an inspired guest feature on ‘Walk It, Talk It’ but the track is unbelievably irritating with the title repeated for 45 seconds straight at the beginning of the song. Moreover, ‘White Sand’ is instantly forgettable with too much crammed into one song, thus diminishing the efforts of Travis Scott, Big Sean and Ty Dolla $ign.
To reiterate, there is much that is good about this album and Migos will not suffer from its bloated and un-edited state. Yet, it is impossible to avoid the nagging feeling that this could have been excellent as opposed to merely above par. I expect several of the tracks from this album toigos chart extremely well but back-to-back Grammys will not be occurring.
Culture II is out now via Motown/Capitol Records