May 21, 2018

Culture II review: How the trap sound has become overplayed

Sam Mitchell '19, Staff Writer

Culture II was released by Migos on January 26.

Migos, the popular Atlanta rap trio, are back at it again with a 24 track sequel album to Culture. Migos’s first Culture album, released in January of last year, was nominated for Rap Album of the Year at the Grammys.

This much anticipated album released January 26 at midnight, with the album lasting  one hour and 45 minutes.This album features well known rappers like Drake, Big Sean, Gucci Mane, Ty Dolla $ign, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Post Malone, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott and 21 Savage on the LP.

(Warning: NSFW Lyrics)

This album comes at a time when rap has started to become a mainstream genre of music. With services such as Spotify and Apple Music, rap has seen some impressive streaming numbers. Rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and Drake were popular years ago, but did not have the mainstream appeal of Pop artists like Taylor Swift. This year however, Drake was the 2nd most streamed artist on Spotify, and Lamar followed close behind in 4th place.

Migos has been cashing in on the recent hype over rap. Apple aired an ad during the Grammys of their fun little ‘Animoji’ characters singing along to Migos’ song “Stir Fry,” which got released as a hit single in December. Watch the ad below.

Recently, Offset dropped a collaborative album with 21 Savage called ‘Without Warning’, which the rap community received very well. Quavo has also gained his fair share of media attention lately, collaborating with DJ Khaled for “I’m The One,” and Liam Payne for “Strip That Down”. Offset also is engaged to famous female rapper, Cardi B, to whom he proposed with a $500,000 engagement ring.

The third member of Migos, Takeoff, has gained significantly less media attention than the other two members, but with his growing role, this album begins to gain some traction.

Whether it be an inspired verse on “Narcos” or a some fun flow on “Stir Fry”, Takeoff really makes Culture II his album. One of the favorite tracks and most listened to track, “Made Men,” serves as a platform for Takeoff to take the first two verses with beautiful piano riffs and synthesizer sounds. The vibe is relaxed, casual, and playful, and reminds the listener to take a deep breath and step back.

This album does have some moments of repetitiveness, which inevitably happens with longer albums, but a lot of it has to do with the production style which overused similar producers. Critic Meaghan Garvey, a contributor from Pitchfork, a popular music media website, noted, “Culture II ultimately feels like a drag—a formless grab bag compiled without much care,” she said.

Many casual listeners from the high school also had some thoughts “There were some very good songs, but album as a whole is lacking,” said Migos fan Andrew Ouellette ’19.

“It didn’t live up to the hype”, said Jacob Wagner ’19.

Where this album shines is where differing production is brought in, with new voices and influences on the beats. Kanye West produces in the song “BBO,” and he brings an Egyptian type influence to the beat. Pharrell Williams also uses an interesting combination of whistles and synths in the song “Stir Fry”.  

“Both the warm 70s soul samples of Kanye West co-production B.B.O and the Pharrell Williams-helmed Stir Fry are fantastic, the latter a slice of spare, humid, hook-filled funk that harks back to (Pharrell’s) productions from the early 00s.” said The Guardian music reviewer, Alexis Petridis.

Using these reviews as testaments, this album could benefit from a tracklist cutting—24 songs is far too much for an album. For a group whose sound has become more and more saturated in the music industry, it carries even more necessity. This album clearly tries to exploit money from the streaming industry that rewards artists for racking up the most listens.

Lyrically, this Migos album only talks about the high-flying life of being wealthy in LA, or the hardships of their youth in Atlanta. They don’t necessarily make any points or give any takeaways lyrically but, again, that is not the goal of Migos. Culture II produces an album that is sonically pleasing and fun to listen to and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This album is not perfect by any means, it can get overplayed after its 1 hour and 45 minutes playtime. Migos manage to put out another set of songs that really encapsulate a certain joyful feeling, but at the same time it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Rating: 5.4/10

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