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I Turn Offset on: A Honest Review of “Culture II”

 

Let’s be clear. My top three of all time are Andre 3000, Kendrick, and Kanye. I’m not going to budge regardless of what you say to me. I also do love me my Drake. And I do dabble abit in the Ski-Mask the Slump God, Keith Ape, and Goldlink types (if you don’t know these artists, please do yourself a favor and check them out). But all in all, I’ve always been about the conscious rap. Rap and hip-hop that has meaning, implications, and interesting politics. So, when I was told that I had to listen to Culture II, I threw up in my mouth a little. Here was my original understanding of Migos, perhaps yours too, I thought of them as a group with bland, uninteresting flows divided into triplets, often talking about t-shirts, about being bad, and about being boujee. Some ad-libbing in the background with random animal sounds and grunts being made like Quavo needed to take a shit. But I took a leap of faith. I sat down and I listened to the entirety of Culture II. Here’s what I thought.

Firstly, all praise to the producers. The beats constructed on this album are fucking phenomenal. If I could get just an instrumental of this album, I’d press it onto vinyl and make love to it. The 808s, the sub-bass, the melody, the hi-hats, that juicy kicks. Each track consolidates each piece of the process into a beautiful harmony. Every track is obviously different, but there’s a certain identity amongst them that screams, “this is authentically a Migos-type beat.” And even if you just can’t stand any rapping done by Migos, the instrumentals are phenomenal, and I’d recommend listening to the album at least for that. Often, especially in the context of mumble rap, the producers do a lot of the heavy-work. I mean imagine a purely acapella Migos song. Hot trash. I’d rather listen to IceJJFish. For the instrumentals try: Made Men, Stir Fry, Crown the Kings, or Narcos (the sampling done on these are subtly brilliant).

I thought of them as a group with bland, uninteresting flows divided into triplets, often talking about t-shirts, about being bad, and about being boujee.

Secondly, after consulting a local Migos expert, my white roommate Dan, there is a consensus on the definitive evolution of Migos. In terms of Quavo we hear an interesting transition. If you’re looking for a Quavo like in Malone’s Congratulations he’s nowhere to be found. Nor is the Quavo from the first Culture album. His experimentation with auto-tune seems very clear, and draws heavy inspiration from Travis Scott. This Quavo is going to be a more refined version of the Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho rapper, heavy vocal processing, with the inability to distinguish verses from hooks. And personally, he’s the least impressive of the three Migos in this album, to me he sounds like a less evolved form of Travis Scott on Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight. Travis just did it better. Quavo: 4/10. Offset and Takeoff really take the cake here. They’ve clearer become better rappers and are embracing their mumble rapping as an art. They’re triplets are unique bangers. They’re ad-libs are fiery. Their intonations compliment the timbre of the beat. They’re references are quirky, funny, and relevant. It makes me excited about what they can do outside of Migos. Offset: 6.5/10, Takeoff: 7/10.

But honestly what really makes the album are the features. Drake. Post-Malone. 21-Savage. Cardi B. Nicki Minaj. Travis Scott. Those with the features are the best on this album. If you can’t appreciate Migos, you can at least respect these artists in their individual right. How they add their own flavor makes them feel like hot sauce: they just make everything you add to better. Listen to: Motorsport (ft. Cardi B., Nicki Minaj), Walk It Talk It (ft. Drake), Notice Me (ft. Residential White Rapper Posty Maloney).

And perhaps that’s why it’s called Culture II, an album dedicated to cultivating the culture of trap and mumble rap while incorporating the current pax romana of mainstream hip-hop artists.

It’s a good album. Give it a listen. Culture II: 6/10.

Brad Sheen is a first-year whose nipples are real.  

Image: https://www.last.fm/music/Migos