Migos: Culture review – bling culture’s Beatles don’t disappoint

(Quality Control)
The Atlanta rap trio’s hotly anticipated second album is exuberant, gritty and seriously ambitious

Four years ago, rap trio Migos broke out of Atlanta with their Young Rich Niggas mixtape, which made many US end-of-year lists. Dripping in chains, they rapped coldly about drugs and money with the sing-song numbness and jangling-nerve hi-hats typical of trap, hip-hop’s gritty southern variant. Their excitable Versace single consisted almost entirely of the designer label’s name repeated nonstop.

If you thought hip-hop was about lyrical flow, Offset, Quavo and Takeoff demurred. They were less about waves than particles. Migos delivered words in rhythmic, chopped-up, staccato bursts, relentlessly peppered with curt, surreal ad-libs; their triplet rhymes were stylistically distinct. Oh, and if they didn’t invent the dab, they certainly sent it viral.

Fast-forward past celebrity remixes (Drake), famous rappers biting their style, a stint in prison for Offset and a debut album (2015’s Yung Rich Nation) to 2017, and Migos’s track Bad and Boujee has blown up, extending their reach well outside trap’s constituency. It’s now No 1 on the US Billboard charts, and when Migos played in Lagos, Nigeria last December, the crowd there went certifiably nuts for it.

Fellow Hotlantan Donald Glover, the actor, writer and musician (under the name Childish Gambino), recently accepted a Golden Globe for his TV series Atlanta by thanking Migos, “the Beatles of this generation”. It’s no exaggeration to say that Culture, Migos’s delayed second studio album, is probably the most anticipated hip-hop release of the year so far.

Watch the video for Migos’s Bad and Boujee.

Like pretty much all rappers before them, Migos “rep the culture from the streets”. In fairness, though, their rags-to-riches arc is new to them. Or as Quavo puts it with typical succinctness: “Came from Cup O’ Noodles/ I fucked the game/ Kama Sutra” (Call Casting). Anyone averse to drug trade dystopias, casual misogyny or the lush life new money buys may find Culture a trying ride, however. Repetition and Auto-Tune feature heavily.

So what is all the fuss about? Migos’s exuberance, sonically and visually. Those of us not from Atlanta can nerd hard over their sound. Like their increasingly musical, but still weird, productions, Migos’s triplet-heavy, robotic non-flows have come on leaps and bounds, while retaining the group’s core starkness. The nagging T-Shirt is a dazzlingly dense web of drug dealing, gun and wristwatch references stylised and broken up to the point of abstraction. The video displays Migos’s seductive sense of ambition too: they rock a northern-clime fur-trapper bling. Migos may hail from gritty beginnings, but their horizons are wide and strange.

Contributor

Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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