Migos – C U L T U R E I I

Migos – C U L T U R E I I

Migos Go Bigger, Though Not Exactly Better


Maddeningly inconsistent yet frequently inspired, Migos’ second album in 12 months is admirable in its ambition and bombast but, inevitably, comes across as overstuffed. Still, even during the lowest points on this record, there are few moments that fail to dazzle, amuse or simply make you nod your head like a maniac.

Rating: 7/11


The sequel to last year’s chart-topping C U L T U R E, Migos’ latest album is so goddamn long (24 tracks, totalling slightly over 1 hour and 45 minutes) that it’s difficult to review it as a cohesive unit. Instead, we’ve decided it makes more sense to attack it on a song-by-song basis, picking apart the moments, sounds and features that work versus those that don’t.

With this method, we’re hoping we can try to get some idea of how C U L T U R E I I functions holistically. In other words, we’re taking a micro approach in order to determine the macro appeal of the album overall. But, y’know, it’ll be a lot less wanky than that sounds… hopefully.


“Higher We Go (Intro)”

Much more immediate and intriguing than the title-track intro to C U L T U R E, “Higher We Go” contains ominous bells, cinematic strings, warped synths and a moody bassline that each of the Migos manages to comfortably flow over. Quavo’s hook and extended verse is smooth and sinister, Takeoff has a triplet-tinged, unfussed cameo and Offset flashes his bona fides with a staccato-heavy, relentless and totally unpredictable verse. As solid an opening statement as you could ask for.

Rating: 8.5/11



The third and weakest single from the album, “Supastars” is the first taste here of Migos just going through the motions. Over a generic, rattly beat, Quavo and Takeoff fall back on their worst tendencies, spitting bars that typify their lack of substance without any flash or style to elevate it. Thankfully, Offset sweeps in with a manic, firebrand verse and drops one or two memorable lines (“Marvin the Martian, I’ma put your brain up for auction”), keeping things somewhat engaging.

Rating: 5.5/11



Well, this is interesting. With just some distant acoustic drums and Santana-lite strumming, producers Quavo and DJ Durel conjure a vibe from straight out the jungle. There’s some posturing and a lack of self-awareness that falls flat (“This real rap, no mumble” has to be a joke, right?), but “Narcos” offers up a version of Migos that we definitely haven’t heard before and, from the sound of it, the boys are just as excited by the possibilities as we are.

Rating: 7.5/11


“BBO (Bad Bitches Only)”

(featuring 21 Savage)

Over a gorgeous beat courtesy of Buddah Bless and Mr. Kanye West, the Migos comfortably list off all the reasons why bad bitches are all they need. On hook duties, 21 Savage deploys his signature flow, which is both maddeningly indifferent and strangely terrifying, like a sleepy growl. All the while, the Migos get thrown for a glorious loop by “BBO”‘s ouplent tune, which oscillates between muffled horns and watery, Eastern-tinged chimes. The allure is too real with this one.

Rating: 9/11


“Auto Pilot (Huncho on the Beat)”

The obvious joke wouldn’t even occur to me if this song weren’t so “meh”, but yeah: “Auto Pilot” is indeed the right name. Minimalist almost to the point of laziness, this track revolves around skronky production, so-so verses and a very un-hooky refrain (which, yes, does contain the iconic line “I didn’t graduate but I know chemistry and science”). Like most Migos tracks, it’ll sound raw banging out your speakers, but there’s not a lot more to it.

Rating: 4.5/11


“Walk It Talk It”

(featuring Drake)

Almost five years since Drake hopped on “Versace” – Migos’ hypnotically repetitive breakout track – the pressure for this, their third collaboration, is on. The result? Supremely underwhelming. The basic as fuck, six-word hook – which comes across as a desperate grasp at past success – makes “Versace” seem verbose, and the stagnant, twinkly sonics are less laidback than soporific. Not to mention, Drake’s verse is wallowy trash. Offset comes through, but that’s basically it.

Rating: 3/11


“Emoji a Chain”

It’s concerning when back-to-back tracks are similar enough that Young Metro’s tag is the only way to tell that it’s a completely different song. Continuing the spacey, flatlining vibe of “Walk It Talk It”, “Emoji a Chain” sleepwalks around some recycled flows and painfully stupid lyrics (“Make an emoji a chain” is such a dumb rich boast). Nothing that any of the Migos spit registers, nor does their manner of spitting. But, I guess, that vocoded coda is pretty cool.

Rating: 4.5/11



(featuring Gucci Mane)

Ok, we’re getting back on track. Atypically sunny and inviting, “CC” employs an upbeat sensibility – including warm synths and subterranean vocal effects – that allows it to stand out (along with “Narcos”) as one of the most unique-sounding tracks on C U L T U R E I I. Reliable as ever, Gucci throws down some hilarious non-sequiturs (“Multi-million, but I jiggalo”), and Offset’s verse finds him as purposeful and crisp as he’s been on the whole record so far.

Rating: 8/11


“Stir Fry”

Released as the first single off the record late last year, “Stir Fry” is an obvious highlight, finding each of the Migos operating at their peak. Quavo’s showing is vibrant while still drilling that hook home hard (“In the kitchen, wrist twistin’ like it’s stir fry”), Offset motormouths his way through some pristine gibberish and Takeoff goes full karaoke-mode, which is equal parts absurd and spectacular to listen to. And of course, Pharrell’s inimitable, rich production is greatly appreciated.

Rating: 9.5/11


“Too Much Jewelry”

The most underrated tool in the Migos repertoire is the tag-team hook, as demonstrated by Quavo and Offset on “Narcos”. On “Too Much Jewelry”, over a piping, plinky Zaytoven beat, it falls to Quavo and Takeoff to pass the baton back and forth. Meanwhile, Takeoff carries the track in the verses, freeform rapping with a verve that’s as startling as it is refreshing. And, holy shit, the West Coast voicebox effect on the bridge is utterly insane.

Rating: 8.5/11


“Gang Gang”

Ooooooh, I fuck with this one right away! What a fuckin’ mad, wraith-like sample Murda Beatz lays down for this; shit sounds like some kind of blissful haunting. Plus, there’s Takeoff going two-for-two with slapping verses, a sultry hook and some sincerely piss-funny lines (“And all I want is nachoooos“). It’s clear that he’s slowly morphing into a baritone Quavo and, I gotta say, it’s working for him, as is their pairing in general. Easily the biggest surprise and, strangely, the strongest track so far.

Rating: 10/11


“White Sand”

(featuring Travi$ Scott, Ty Dolla $ign & Big Sean)

Goddamn, I’ve missed Ty Dolla $ign, both in his capacity as a consummate producer and his skittish, rap-croon style. Big Sean, not so much. But, luckily, most of “White Sand” is at the mercy of Quavo, Ty and Travi$’s melodic sensibilities. Each brings something vital enough to overshadow Sean Don’s tacky verse: Quavo brings the codeine mellow, Ty is the effortless sensualist and Travvy, as always, is the yawping madman, his words and bark dripping with a cool menace.

Rating: 8/11


“Crown the Kings”

Once again, the most winning, newfound aspect of this record appears to be the use of cooing, ephemeral vocal samples. Though not as a immediate as “Gang Gang”, “Crown the Kings” succeeds based on its ghostly atmospherics, wistful pianos, wiry synths and Quavo’s innate way around a soupy flow. Hardly bothering to distinguish between his hook, refrain and verse, this is entirely Quavo’s track, and perhaps his best overall showing purely on the level of innate catchiness.

Rating: 8/11


I’m feelin’ some real Lil Pump-level repetitiveness on this one, even moreso than “Walk It Talk It”. Still, it kinda works, largely because it takes the benevolent spiritual vibe of some of these tracks and runs with it in the exact opposite direction. The sound is barebones, with a dusty piano and hushed synth warble that sounds like something out of a horror movie. Plus, the dark mantra of the lyrics and muddy delivery hits you right in the gut.

Rating: 7.5/11



Aaaand we’re wading back into the throwaways. “Beast” isn’t a bad track but it’s hardly remarkable, especially when compared with Murda Beatz’s previous, breathtaking contributions on “Gang Gang”. Propped up by a standard, swampy-trap beat and hook that’s too pleased with it’s basicness to work as an earworm, “Beast” is fairly disposable. Plus, it’s one of the first times that there’s not enough happening to distract from the awful lyrics (“She a gobbler” is pretty nasty, even by Migos’ standards).

Rating: 6/11


“Open It Up”

“Open It Up” has the tapped-out, big-band feel of a victory lap and, on a regular-length LP, would probably be the final track. But, honestly, I can’t get past that hook: like, what the actual fuck?! It’s the exact same “Uh, ooh!” cadence from “Deadz”. Which, to start with, is not the strongest track, and this version adds nothing. Only a year removed from C U L T U R E, that’s a fairly unforgivable level of laziness. Goddamn. And, yeah, I’ve never been a big fan of the slow-shout verses that are on display here.

Rating: 3.5/11



(featuring Nicki Minaj & Cardi B)

The first single to be released from this project, “MotorSport” is a pretty decent posse cut that also presents the hip hop gender divide in microcosm. Seriously, check out how much harder the ladies have to flex to get taken seriously. Each of the Migos does their thing reasonably well, then Cardi and Nicki sweep in and eat the entire track alive. Cardi’s typically funny, vibrant and sassy, while Nicki busts out half a dozen different flows like it’s nothing. Monster.

Rating: 8/11


“Movin’ Too Fast”

After “CC”, this is probably the bubbliest song on C U L T U R E I I. There’s an irrepressible shimmer and pep to this track that counters the more prevalent trapped ‘n geeked-out roll of the rest of the record. Not to mention – for a group that have never been the best lyricists or rhymers in the game – Offset’s hook has some crisp schemes at play (“cash deposits” rhymes with “match the watches”, “harass the ‘rari” and “glass is water”). Not the strongest track, but a nice excursion, nonetheless.

Rating: 7.5/11


“Work Hard”

Both Quavo and the beat aim skywards and wind up starry-eyed on “Work Hard”. The sounds are sparkly and dusty, while the hook is a gooey ode to keeping up the Migos’ insane work ethic in order to provide for mama and the fam. It doesn’t go much deeper than that, but there are some surprises, including Takeoff getting in his best punchline yet (“Count it [massive pause]: that’s the sound of Benjs, made my thumb sore”) and the abrupt Dark Knight-esque beat switch-up on Offset’s verse.

Rating: 7/11


“Notice Me”

(featuring Post Malone)

No matter how many times it happens, I’m never ready for Post Malone to not suck. Still, on “Notice Me” he delivers a bizarrely compelling chorus, singing like he’s simultaneously trying to sip lean through a wet packet of marbles. It suits the production perfectly (the only FKi-credited track here), which would almost count as a lullaby were it not so groove-laden, piercing your cerebral cortex and insisting you nod along to that shit. And, what’s more, great contributions all-round from the boys.

Rating: 9/11


“Too Playa”

(featuring 2 Chainz)

Quavo’s clearly very proud of his emerging skills as a producer, as we hear on the intro to “Too Playa”. And he should be, especially if it yields more off-brand beats like those for “Narcos” and “CC”. On this track, however, he’s made something of middling accomplishment. Yeah, that saxophone is something, but the rest of the production is nothing astounding, full of trapped-out hi-hats and thick bass. Still, everyone equips themselves well, the keys are smooth and 2 Chainz is always good for a laugh.

Rating: 6.5/11


“Made Men”

It’s late in the day, but we finally get a “light drizzle on a Sunday morning” beat for the Migos to lounge all over. Cassius Jay’s breezy, soulful keys, squeaky synths and patient percussion not only bring out a lighter delivery style from each of the boys, it also finds them rapping about some real shit. Yeah, there’s all the typical shit-talk about Wraiths and G5s, but also the slightest bit of introspection and – what’s always becoming – some proper humility from the usually invulnerable Quavo, Offset and Takeoff.

Rating: 8.5/11


“Top Down on da NAWF”

A love letter to the Northside of Atlanta, “Top Down on da NAWF” follows the ethereal vibe of some of the best tracks on C U L T U R E I I. Except – instead of a disembodied female coo on the beat – it’s Quavo’s own warped croon, styled as a distant, digitised wail, which keeps things flowing smoothly. Aside from his voice being centralised, this is basically Quavo’s song, whether he’s boasting about playing the field and the coach or warbling like an apparition conjured by strobes and weed vapour.

Rating: 7.5/11


“Culture National Anthem (Outro)”

The laidback rhythm and gentle insistence of this track makes it a perfect outro, especially when framed against the more aggressive intro. The boys are still waaay too enamoured with the word “culture” and it’s easiest rhyming counterpoints, but the melody’s crisp, the beat’s smooth and there are even some nice, salient sentiments, especially on Quavo’s final verse about union and people taking a knee to pray. Even the kinda corny “Oh say can you see” conceit works in context. And, with each of the Migos getting one more chance to shine, it makes for a fine send off.

Rating: 8/11

One Reply to “Migos – C U L T U R E I I

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *