Migos is not for the critics, and Culture II was not made for people like me to analyze for its deeper and critical appeal. No, according to Migos, Culture II (and all of their music while we’re at it), is for the fans—for the “culture.” It’s an idea that I’ve been more and more coming to terms with as hip-hop evolves and I gradually accept the changes. It’s futile to hate Migos’ music, but as I begin to understand the appeal, I’ve also come around to appreciate the relieving wave of not caring about Migos critically.
For artists like Migos, rappers who are overly repetitive, primarily only good at one thing, and never really have anything to say other than the usual rap braggadocio, there isn’t much to read into, and the realization that no one even has to look for anything more is the initial hump of accepting Migos as all that they need to be.
If one is to be truly upset with the Migos, it should be for their blatant homophobia or misogyny, which has been rampant throughout their career as rappers, but vehemently hating Migos just because of their repetitive and un-interesting songs is, by all means in 2018, almost entirely futile. You don’t have to love Migos. Hell, you don’t even have to like Migos, but at their current height in rap, they can’t be ignored.
There’s no impressive lyrical dexterity here on Culture II, like what we heard from Offset on the Best Verse of November 2017-winning “Ric Flair Drip” back on his collaborative record with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, as Migos is mainly sticking to Culture‘s themes of just three guys having a good time and making dumb songs full of braggadocio and really great production for people to party, dance to, or play in the background.
The Life of Pablo was most definitely not the kind of “cooking music” that Kanye West had originally intended, but Migos’ Culture II, seemingly made to play in the background of some other activity, definitely fulfills that role. Most of what there is to enjoy from the record stems from excellent production from the Grammy-snubbed producer Metro Boomin, Pharrell Williams on “Stir Fry,” C.N.O.T.E., Zaytoven, Murda Beatz, and even Quavo himself. Their signature flow might be ever so smoothly in the pocket, but it’s really not anything more than rhythms and refrains to chant over the bounce of some of trap’s greatest beat makers.
When Quavo sings “whole lotta gang shit ayy” in full auto-tune on the most Drake-influenced pop-rap track on the whole album, “Gang Gang,” it feels so comically perfect. Takeoff croons “all I want is nachos” with the full confidence of R. Kelly belting about buttered rolls on “In the Kitchen,” and in that moment all actual criticism fades away.
It was in listening to that track that all of my frustrations escaped me and I accepted that Migos is just pure-form rap in 2018, like some amalgamation of the most basic template for all that rap needs to be to get people to dance or bob their head on their commute. At the end of the day, tracks like “Stir Fry” get the simple job done. Migos is not for the critics, and Culture II is all that it needs to be.
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