Migos’s “Culture II” is a 24-track, 105-minute Trap showcase that defines The Culture as Migos see it.
So just what is The Culture? It’s fairly obvious what the Migos think The Culture is. “Narcos”, the album’s third song, opens with references to Pablo Escobar, the ever-present Draco and of course the kilos. The very next song is called “BBO (Bad B***hes Only).” The song is about getting with women and passing them around to your friends.
The album opens with Migos harmonizing, claiming that they go higher for The Culture. Given their subject matter it’s hard to accept the idea that they’re doing anything to uplift The Culture. If anything they’re filling a role in hip-hop that has always existed: suppliers of vapid, unoriginal rap.
Normally I wouldn’t have such a problem with this type of music. There is a lot of unoriginal, bad music out there. The trouble is that the Migos have laid claim to The Culture. They’ve become ambassadors of sorts, even making appearances on national television during NBA games. Migos shouldn’t be in charge of The Culture. Nor should they (or their fans) believe that they’re making some form of “real” hip-hop. A line on “Narcos” suggests that Migos believe they’re doing something more than making basic, repetitive Trap: “Straight out the jungle/This is real rap no mumble.” The style of rap is probably not mumble, but that doesn’t make “Culture II” real rap.
What does and does not bop?
I’m just going to ignore the songs that sound alike. That’s most of the album. Suffice to say that if you have heard any generic Trap beat then you have heard most of “Culture II.”
So leaving those songs aside let’s talk about the tracks that have a little something different going on, either good or bad.
Despite what I said above, “Narcos” at least has a little Latin influence in its sound. It does not mean it’s a good song, but at least it has something that makes it almost listenable.
This song got added to my running hip-hop playlist. That’s a first for me; I had never actually liked any Migos tune.
The beat sounds slightly old school but it still has Trap elements. If they made more songs like this I would be a Migos fan.
“Too Much Jewelry”
The piano on this song sounds cool, but the premise of this song would have been funny 30 years ago when Keenen Ivory Wayans parodied it.
“Crown the Kings”
This song is completely unremarkable except for a line that I find particularly odd. “I got every drug that start with a letter.” What does that mean? All drugs start with a letter. Does he mean that he has every drug that is known by a single letter? Like X? Or are there drugs that are known only by a symbol? I can’t figure it out.
“Open It Up”
Great sample. The verses on this track should be ignored at all costs, but the beat slaps.
The most anticipated feature artists on “Culture II”, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B on the same song. The track is a bit of a letdown. Pressed to pick a winner Cardi B’s verse, surprisingly, is better.
If you combined Kanye’s first two albums and dumbed them down by a factor of a million you would have made this track. It’s terrible.
Hooks and Repitition
So much of “Culture II” is defined by repitition to the point where this review has started repeating itself. The note, however, bears repeating: the doubling up of hooks and lines wears on the patience.
“Walk It Talk It” and “Emoji A Chain” are a perfect couplet of back-to-back tracks that consist of four total lines each. That’s an exaggeration but at times it feels accurate.
Those are not the only songs that attempt to hypnotize the listener through repitition. The album is full of them. The shame of it is that there are some songs on which Offset or Quavo have bars. Unfortunately the bars are buried under a blanket of homogenous lines.
In order to appreciate “Culture II” you have to suspend a few things. The album is not about anything nor does it uplift The Culture. The album is not made up of particularly interesting or different sounding music.
For fans of Trap the album is probably fine. For anyone else the album has a few highlights amidst a sea of repitition. And at 105 minutes “Culture II” is simply too long to be listened to as a complete album. It might be bookended by songs that suggest a theme, but it would be difficult to identify a theme that hasn’t been rehashed a hundred times in rap music.
So “Culture II” has some listenable tracks. Pick out a few gems and listen to them but don’t sit down for the entire experience. It’s not that kind of album.