Written By | Rodney Carmichael
There’s a line in “Culture National Anthem,” the surprisingly chill closer on Migos’ new album Culture II, that sums up how much has changed for the group in a year’s time: “Believe me when I say we create our own sound,” the trio’s leader Quavo croons in a melodic wisp. “I know you see it now, what they be screaming ’bout.”
After years of being dismissed as a mumble rap laughingstock while steadily racking up certified street hits, Migos broke through to the mainstream in 2017 with the Donald Glover-approved hit, “Bad and Boujee.” The song reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, followed by the No. 1 debut of Culture on the Billboard 200 album chart last January. They haven’t looked back since.
One year later, they’re back with the follow up, Culture II, which accomplishes the rare feat of sustaining itself over 24 tracks. Against all odds, they’ve found ways to improve on their signature sound. Some of the best cuts on the album are the non-trap joints, where they forsake the 808-heavy sound for something more musical or melodic — like the club bounce on “Gang Gang,” the saxophone riffs on “Too Playa” or the laid-back grooves on “Made Men.”
It amounts to a more cultured sounding Migos on Culture II. While the rest of the industry continues to mimic and nitpick their sound, Quavo, Offset and Takeoff show they aren’t stuck on one note.
The album finds the trendsetters drawing sounds from a wider pool of elite producers including Pharrell, Mike Dean and Kanye West, who contribute tracks alongside such trap traditionalists as Zaytoven, Metro Boomin and Cardo Got Wings. Huncho himself, aka Quavo, even produced a song.
At this stage in their career, Migos have the luxury to pick and choose when it comes to collaborators. The proof is in the trim, top-notch list of featured artists. 21 Savage appears on “BBO,” while trap-father Gucci Mane comes through for “CC.” The Cardi B and Nicki Minaj-assisted “MotorSport” — a single that paired the ladies together for the first time — is positioned later in the tracklist to give any fatigued listener a second wind. Post Malone makes an appearance on “Notice Me” and 2 Chainz cleans up for “Too Playa.” Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign and Big Sean also show up for “White Sand.” And the Drake-assisted “Walk It Talk It,” is a real highlight.
But it’s clear this is the Migos’ show. From these new sounds, the sun won’t set on their reign in 2018.