“Culture II” reviews: Migos at their peak or did this album fall flat?

Posted on Feb 5 2018 - 7:56am by Jordan Maury and Sam Harres

The trio is arguably at its peak:

The Migos’ ascension to superstardom has truly been a sight to behold. After releasing “Culture” and striking gold with their mega hit “Bad and Boujee,” Atlanta’s favorite trio became America’s new obsession. In 2017, the Migos were everywhere you turned. They released collaborative projects with 21 Savage and Travis Scott, performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and worked with Katy Perry. The trio is arguably at its peak in terms of popularity and is back with its newest album, “Culture II.” The absurd 24-track album shows the Migos attempting to capitalize on their newfound fame.

The Migos’ appeal has never been their lyrical ability, due to their below-average skills in that department. Rather than focusing on metaphors and intricate wordplay, the Migos have made a career off of raw energy, exciting flows and catchy melodies. The trio seems to be well aware of this success, too, as it chose to not deviate too far from its winning formula on “Culture II.” However, songs like “Stir Fry” show that the group is capable of some ingenuity. Quavo delivers his usual scratchy melodies over a Pharrell-produced beat with unexpected but great results. Although the instrumental does not sound like anything the Migos would ever touch, Takeoff and Offset adapt well by switching their flows and cadences in impressive fashion. The slower tempo on “Made Men” and the jazzy tone on “Too Playa” add some range to the soundscape found on “Culture II,” as well.

Despite them showing some ingenuity, it’s not nearly enough to keep a listener interested for an entire 24-song project. One can tolerate limited subject matter in small doses, but being force-fed redundancy for almost two hours is too much. It also does not help that Quavo is pretty lackluster on many of his hooks. Takeoff and Offset are great improvisers in terms of flow, but they aren’t good enough to run this marathon of an album. There are only a few unlistenable songs, such as “Emoji A Chain,” on this absurdly long project. The rest is pretty good or decent, outside a stretch from track 13 to track 19 in which the songs are just plain forgettable. So many of the album’s problems could’ve been fixed if the Migos had just shortened the album.

“Culture II” has a lot of good moments. The Migos got superb contributions from their guest features on songs like “BBO” and “White Sand.” The production rarely missed its mark. However, the album suffers mightily from repetitiveness and poor album organization. The Migos have a lot to learn if they want to continue standing in the spotlight.

– Jordan Maury

Most of “Culture II” fell flat:

Almost a year to the day after dropping “Culture,” Atlanta hip-hop group Migos released its highly anticipated follow-up “Culture II” on Jan. 26. How did the trap rappers plan on following up their record-breaking trap masterpiece? Apparently by releasing a 24-song junk list of filler tracks and throwaways.

“Culture” set the bar too high. “Bad and Boujee” blew up too quickly, and songs like “T-Shirt” and “Slippery” kept the hype intact for much of 2017. The success of “Culture” would always be hard to follow. Making things worse, Migos makes a very specific style of music. They are not known for their diversity or range. The group’s raps are neither insightful nor thought-provoking; rather, Quavo, Offset and Takeoff (the three Migos) make bangers with catchy hooks. In a nutshell, the group blew up off party tracks that sound good but lack depth. And that lack of depth reared its ugly head on “Culture II.” Migos seemingly ran out of good material and lost sight of what took them to the top.

Migos’ brand is built on catchy pop-hooks, great production and relentless triplets. But on “Culture II,” that schema was thrown out the window. With guests like Drake and Post Malone on the project, “Culture II” somehow decided to waste these features in favor of tired, lazy tracks with substandard lyrics and weak hooks. On Drake’s track, “Walk it Like I Talk It”, Migos opted for five refrains, each composed of Quavo singing the phrase “walk it like I talk it” either 16 or 17 times in a row. Maybe if Quavo and Offset took a break from hopping on every radio-ready, pop-rap song on the planet, they could have spent more time producing quality music. But wait – it gets even worse.

Almost half the album is completely forgettable and totally unnecessary. Tracks like “Too Much Jewelry,” “Work Hard” and “Top Down on da NAWF” add nothing to the project as a whole, except for listens, streams and sales. Make no mistake – the Migos want this album to go platinum, and it almost certainly will. But to absolutely ensure “Culture II” makes the requisite 1 million-sale benchmark (according to the Recording Industry Association of America, 1,500 streams is equivalent to one sale), Migos packed every possible song onto this album to pump up their numbers. It is much easier to get a million “sales” when there are 24 songs on an album, instead of the more typical 12-16 (“Culture” had 13). With that said, it probably would have been even easier to go platinum if Migos actually put some effort into this project.

Not every song on “Culture II” falls flat. Tracks like “Stir Fry,” produced by Pharrell, and “BBO,” produced by Kanye West and featuring 21 Savage, stand out among the sea of garbage. “Too Playa” and “Made Men,” tracks 21 and 22, respectively, also impress, thanks to above-average production and the silky-smooth saxophone sample on “Too Playa.” These songs, however, are not enough to save this project. If Migos cut the filler, they probably could have produced a solid 12-song album; the songs are there. But they didn’t. Migos chose the easy money-grab.

– Sam Harres