Rap God Malik Speaks: A Review of Culture

Migos, for those unfamiliar with the band, is a trio of Atlanta rappers: Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff. A few weeks ago, they released their long-awaited second album, Culture. At first listen, it sounded like an album out of Future’s writing book. It had the similar “trap rap” narrative he is known for, stylized by rhythmic beats this generation rap and hip hop is accustomed to. However, as a rap connoisseur, I pride myself on actually listening to an album. As a result, I gave it another whirl and what I found was an album that should be considered one of the better “trap” albums released in recent years.

So what exactly did I discover? I started by first going down the tracklist. It starts with the titular opener “Culture,” that is as unique to the album as DJ Khaled going on a rant with his familiar Snapchat mantras. The intro is then followed by the songs “T-shirt,” “Call Casting,” “Bad and Boujee,” “Get Right Witcha,” and “Slippery.” These songs, all presumably meant to be individual singles, use the same stylistic elements the trio has become known for – high quality production with catchy lyrics that align with their Atlanta roots. This Migos “swagger” led to the commercial success of these songs, especially “Bad and Boujee” which recently peaked number one on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the songs following “Slippery” are, in production terms, unlike Migos. Instead of their usual blend of “hard” and speedy beats, the songs begin to mellow out. Songs, such as “What the Price” and “Kelly Price,” are reminiscent of 808’s and Travis Scott.

Why is there such a large discrepancy between the first and latter half of the album? Well, it is simply a clever ploy in getting people to listen to the album. By having the so-called “bangers” in the beginning of the album, Migos is able to hook the average hip-hop user and coerce them into listening to the whole thing in its entirety. Apart from that, they are also trying to fit into the perpetually changing hip-hop sound, with Culture being an attempt to join the re-emergence of low fidelity, or “lo-fi,” beat-making rappers such as Tory Lanez and Travis Scott. This phenomenon of “joining the bandwagon” shows not only the group’s complexity, but it is also displaying a rare aptitude to adapt.

My raw opinion of the album is that it was good; for what it is. It is an album that is composed of a few songs that Peter Campanelli can play for a month, maybe two, in the Green Key. It is an album that could be used in someone’s hype playlist. Unfortunately, it isn’t an album one should play past its allotted time. Why? It just doesn’t have enough substance or lyrical value to be held to a greater standard. Of course, I say that as a hypocrite because I have Culture saved on Spotify. But I have already become blasé with the “Bad and Boujee” fad.

All in all, I am a fan of the album and would recommend it to others. Just don’t expect to be listening to “T-shirt” in June.

-Zohaib Malik ’19

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