Trap may be the most divisive genre in mainstream music in the last decade. The subsect of hip hop born from the southern US frequently features silly content like nonsensical lyrics, unconventional rapping styles, and occasional overreliance on production. The case against trap is stooped with evidence. But who says it has to be bad? Or at the very least enjoyable?
Georgia trap trio Migos would be the ones to make the case. The trio, who go by the stage names Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset, released their first album Young Rich Nation in 2015, which featured a few hot singles, but they really had their big breakout just last year. Their song “Bad and Boujee” was a viral smash in 2016. Variations of its hook (“rain drop, drop top”) were unavoidable on Twitter for months. In addition to the success of “Boujee,” the group also played fictionalized versions of themselves in the critically acclaimed show Atlanta, which no doubt fed into their following.
Now with Culture, their latest full length, the group hits their strongest points yet musically. A good number of the tracks here are ridiculously catchy. Though the flaws are numerous, both in theory and execution, the sheer energy and chemistry of those at work on this record make it an immensely enjoyable listen.
The biggest technical highlight of Culture is easily is the production, put together by a good handful of collaborators. A few of the beats on this record are mountainous, the song “Deadz” being a huge highlight. When the beats aren’t loud and crushing, the flows of the rappers take the foreground. The infectious single “T-Shirt” is a track that highlights Takeoff’s galloping vocalizations. Inversely, a few of the songs, like “Out the Way,” don’t do anything to stand out from the rest of the trap crowd. When the tracks work, they really work, but occasionally they can just be average. This problem is expedited by the album’s overall pacing. Each track averages four to five minutes, and feel like they wear themselves out before they end. With a little trimming, the album could have been tighter without feeling too long.
If you’re looking for a lot of substance in the lyrics department, you’ll come up a bit short here as well. The theme, obviously, is exploring and celebrating southern hood culture, but the lyrics feel like they meander and retread the same topics. “Big on Big” is an easy brag track, and as awesome “Deadz” sounds, most of the song is the same two lines over and over. “All Ass” is another track with dopey lyrics (take a guess), but with insane production. In all there’s not a lot of digging to be done here.
But as corny or low effort as song of these songs seem, the chemistry of the Migos is endearing as hell. The silly lyrics are almost an afterthought following their impeccable delivery, which often melds really well with their production. There may be some duds, but man if so many of these songs aren’t a great fun listen. Culture won’t reinvent trap’s image in the music scene (though these guys may have the potential to do so someday), but Migos nonetheless sound great at what they do. If you’re in the market for bangers, these are the ones to watch for.