Migos Culture Quality Control / 300 / Atlantic
Even as recently as a few months ago, it was hard to see it for Migos. In the two years following their 2014 commercial flop Yung Rich Nation and the untimely incarceration of member Offset, it seemed unlikely that the Atlanta rap trio would ever live up to the inherent promise of their breakthrough hit Versace. Despite an opportunistic chart blip for Look At My Dab, 2016 saw a string of unremarkable Migos singles that went nowhere and appeared to portend the inevitable Quavo solo career.
Then came Bad And Boujee, a quiet storm take on trap that optimised the Migos formula of choppy vocal rhythms and repetitive hooks. Initially released last October, the track saw Offset take centerstage for a change, with Quavo and guest rapper Lil Uzi Vert picking up the rear for an unfortunately absent Takeoff. After Offset’s “rain drop, drop top” hook inspired countless Twitter memes, back in January Bad and Boujee peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.
The strongest Migos full length release to date, Culture makes the most of this lucky career surge. Bangers like Call Casting and the Gucci Mane-featuring Slippery call back to the strongest material on their many mixtapes. Bridging the trap house and the strip club, All Ass mixes business with pleasure as Offset and Quavo make strides towards storytelling instead of the non-sequiturs and streams-of-consciousness they typically offer. That helps counter some of the more cringeworthy moments, like the casual use of an ethnic slur on Get Right Witcha.
Though early adopters fell in love with the backmasked sonic swirls and deep bass of second track T-Shirt, much of the record’s best material resides on its back half. The Zaytoven-produced Brown Paper Bag subtly coaxes atmospheric beauty out of Migos’s chosen subgenre of trap, while Deadz caters to its more maximalist, bombastic urges. Still no doubt eyeing a path for himself, Quavo turns respectful romantic on the comparatively poppy Out Yo Way. No matter what happens with Migos in the future, Culture solidifies their once-shaky stature in rap.