The omnipresent DJ Khaled aggressively yelling “How the fuck you fuckboys ain’t gon’ act/Like Migos ain’t reppin’ the culture?” over the intro to Culture might come off aggressively, but it’s an oddly fitting tribute to the Atlanta trio that have come to be some of the most creative and successful of the new generation of trappers.
After introducing their signature Versace flow back in 2013, Migos’ sound has found its place in the repertoire of several other rappers, and has been a major influencer in the last couple of years of hip-hop. Their flows have been evolving in diverse ways ever since, as evident on this album -the melodic edge to the #1 hit Bad and Boujeee is terribly catchy, but strangely, so is the staccato phrasal flow on T-Shirt, while the soaring sing-song of What the Price makes it one of the best tracks on the album. Coupled with synth-and-key driven production that walks a fine line between somber and energetic, Migos have captured the soundscape of the moment. The Khaled mini-rant is also one of the most explicitly aggressive moments on the album – Culture is largely a product of the street life, but its grime is offset (no pun intended) by the endlessly entertaining lyrics – creative pop culture references and punchlines that will elicit a chuckle at the very least are littered throughout. But none of this would be as effective without the charismatic personalities behind the music. Quavo is the cool and collected star, flowing effortlessly over every manner of sound. Offset sneers and taunts his competition, dropping one-liners left and right. Takeoff is possibly the most lyrical of the three, flipping cliches with ease, landing punchlines with heft. They play off each other like a well-oiled machine – they are related – creating music that maintains its firmly unique voice nevertheless.
It’s evident, then, that naming their album Culture isn’t an overstatement by Migos – they’ve got hit after hit, and their style has left a strong imprint on rap – but a self-assured recognition of their influence. Migos is here to be a part of the culture, making great music along the way.