Migos run up until this point was one of the most entertaining runs to date. Bursting on the scene with the mega hit “Versace,” they hit the mixtape circuit & grinded endlessly. While there are misses & periods of time where no one knew where they would be next, most notably on their album Yung Rich Nation, they always maintained some status of cultural zeitgeist. Even on that same album, they brought “Pipe It Up” into the greater cultural lexicon. Despite the greatness of the mixtapes, to hit the mainstream they had to switch the sound.
The hit on this album that brought them back as a force was easily “Bad & Boujee.” Even so many years removed, this song is still a highlight. The beat is still eerie feeling, booming bass with icy bells bouncing throughout the track. All the verses here are highlights, even the controversial Lil Uzi Vert verse. This song didn’t fully sacrifice their old sound but added fresher production than usual to give a brand-new twist.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t hold. Songs like “T-Shirt” are incredibly monotonous with a flow that gets tiring after ten seconds, let alone four minutes. While it may entirely be the point of the track, as the lyrics here are as good as ever, it’s their style in its most barebones. Tracks like this hitting their massive success proved they could do just about anything and find success. This simplified sound would spell the end of getting amazing flows such as on “Cross the Country.”
A big part of the modern appeal of Migos was now Quavo’s melodies. While one of the best rappers of the group, displayed heavily on works like Rich N**ga Timeline, Quavo’s melodic style separated him from the rest of the group & became a selling point. Early tracks like on Young Rich N*ggas, some people didn’t even realize they were a group. Changes within the group’s structure & style were necessary, but it came at the sacrifice of one of the most talented of the group.
This is at its most obnoxious on tracks like “All Ass,” which is a weak track as is. Quavo hits these melodies that feel like they came from a nursery rhyme book, something simple enough for a child but backed by stripper talk. The melodies don’t feel much different from what Travis Scott was doing at the time, which is extremely apparent on “Kelly Price.” When this track comes on its easy to see where the style is from, but how much more unique Travis sounds. Quavo’s voice is just not built for it, sounding frail compared to Travis deeper style.
While most of the track list here is dismissible outside of features, Gucci Mane on “Slippery” is a prime Gucci verse, “Deadz” is the best track here. Not only is it backed by trap legend 2 Chainz with a killer verse, but every member on the track also brings it. Quavo’s chorus here is the most appealing on the album, hitting this deeper style backed with these gang vocal chants. The beat itself produced by Cardo has a deep rattling bass that feels perfectly minimal until it adds more layers during Takeoff’s verse. Subtle changes like these make this track an absolute stand out.
Sadly, this isn’t how the majority of the album is. Songs like “Out Yo Way” are flaccid and would introduce the lazy melodies that Quavo would run with for years to come. Thankfully are tracks like these where Quavo lacks, Takeoff completely saves the day. Offset is consistently good throughout the project, but Takeoff’s voice against the more minimal style of production slides throughout the project. Playing with actual rhyme schemes on the track make him more notable as a rapper too.
Culture has become one of their most iconic releases, but its easily one of the most lopsided in the greater context of their discography. Quavo is clearly still testing his melodic style out, and it’s a rough listen. Takeoff completely outshines even Offset, where Offset tries to bring a middle ground between the two styles, Takeoff’s style sounds clean & perfected. Production here is some of the most consistent, but when there’s a weak beat it destroys the flow of the album. Selling out was clearly the move to make, it’s just a shame it results in something so half-assed.