culture II review

Despite my doubts, Migos dropped Culture II last week. I was taken aback at first by the huge tracklist, and I was worried it was going to be like the Quality Control tape; good songs, but no cohesion, and ironically, lacking quality control. Luckily, it wasn’t.

Yes, people are always going to compare it to Culture, and it will always pale in comparison after the first couple listens, due to how good Culture was. And yes, the promotion and wait for it wasn’t as relentless as it was for Culture, due to the album not having (yet) a standout hit single, like Culture had Bad & Boujee. But that shouldn’t allow people to have a preconceived take on the album, because they are stopping themselves from enjoying it. Arguably, Culture 2 contained a wider range of musical styles than Culture, but that could be put down to the larger tracklist.

Me personally, I liked Culture 2. Admittedly, after the first listen, I was a little underwhelmed, but many songs started to grow me after the next couple listens, and I now feel like there is no song on the album I can say I outright dislike. I could tell that with the massive tracklist, they really tried to outdo themselves here. With the success of Culture, it would’ve been easy to ride off the coat tails off that for some more time, but I think they are trying to dispel the stereotype that their brand of music ‘can’t last’. In doing that, they’ve drowned us listeners with so much music in the last 3 months that it is hard to differentiate and give a fair judgement on their music. But they’re lucky that they saved their best for this one.

What stuck out to me mainly from the album was that it represented the final, or soon to be, shift in power and attention of the members from Offset to Takeoff; 2016 was Quavo’s year, 2017 was Offset’s, and it looks like 2018 could be Takeoff’s. But in my opinion, Takeoff’s time as the main man of Migos for me was from 2013-2015, because whilst Offset was in out of jail, Takeoff was really holding up the group, but it went quite unnoticed.

The album starts with Higher We Go, which disappointed me. Migos’ tapes are known for their insane intros, which set the tone for the rest of the album or mixtape. Look at the intros in the past like Rich than Famous, or Cross the Country. Then listen back to this one. Just didn’t really measure up, did it? I didn’t like the hook, and it felt like they could’ve done so much more on the track, so we move on to the next. Supastars. I’m 92.7% sure that Quavo recorded the hook at the same time as his hook on Saint Laurent Mask, because the beginnings of each hook are EXACTLY the same. But the songs are two very different songs in their own rite, and they’re both bangers. This song picked up the pace from the average intro thankfully, and was the first song that had bopping my head. Each member provided solid features, and provided an early sign for the rest of the album; Takeoff was gonna kill it.

Track 3 now, Narcos, which was recorded in South Africa, funnily enough. People are saying they like this one, and I get why 100%. It just has that real banger vibe to it, and the tropical feel to it made me want to book a flight to Cuba. Offset does what he does with most beats, and has fun with it, and spins the song. At least that’s what I thought until it got to 3:11. That’s when the monster that is Takeoff took the song by its neck. His verse doesn’t even make sense; why did he go in like that? This song stood out for me as one of the best songs of the first half of the album, and showed Migos’ versatility.

BBO now, and this one is a banger. But that’s not surprising, when it was produced by Kanye West. And it was the first time on the album that Quavo’s verse had impressed me. I feel like Offset and Takeoff had bodied him on the earlier songs, so I was happy to hear his good verse. The production of the beat really makes this song; the horns and blasting 808s really amplify the artists’, specifically Quavo’s, vocal abilities. Quavo dominates the next two tracks, in Auto Pilot (produced by Quavo!), and Walk it Talk It. The  Crash Bandicoot vibes for the beat for Auto Pilot were evident, and the artists flowed on the beat like they normally do. I liked this song a lot, not just because of the unique beat, but also because it represented the members trying to increase their music prowess; could you really imagine one of Migos producing their songs back in like 2015?

Walk it Talk It was good, but I expected more. I was a bit meh when I saw Drake’s name, because I didn’t think Migos and Drake would go together well. Yeah, there’s Versace, but that was a DIFFERENT Migos, and a DIFFERENT Drake, so I wasn’t sure how cohesive their sound would be. Despite the repetitive hook, Quavo really bodies the track, and Drake provides a very solid feature. Quavo says the hook so many times, it’s almost like a chant!

As the album approached its middle point, the song quality rose quite substantially. Next, we have one of the best tracks of the album in Emoji A Chain. Offset dominates this song, and provides the most memorable feature of the song. Takeoff also provides such a polished verse, that is representative of his whole demeanour on this whole album; smooth, and laid back. Quavo’s verse will really have you frowning, because he really rode that beat like something else. First song to have me mean mugging, and the next song, CC, propelled me back to the future. What Quavo did on this track really spun me, because he really injected the Phil Collins electric sound into his mic; when will your fave ever? Gucci Mane provided a good verse as he always does on Migos tunes, but Offset and Takeoff’s verse exceeded his so much, that it wasn’t really needed in the end.

Stir Fry was next, and I think this is going to be the standout banger from the album. This is partly due to the insane video for it, but I think of how different it is to traditional Migos songs is what makes it stand out. When could you ever imagine Migos producing a Rush Hour-esque banger like this one? A1 flow as always, and with production from Pharrell, you know you’re gonna have a crazy beat, and they really did the beat justice. Don’t be surprised if this hits 100m views on YouTube. Too Much Jewelry next, and the second song to bore me a bit. I liked it, but it seemed a bit filler-y. I liked Quavo’s robotic vocals at the end, but this one gets a skip on the shuffle for me. Gang Gang is the next song, and it almost made me cry. Takeoff and Quavo really gave us a pop ballad here. This song should get airplay on radios and should be played on KISS and that. I was really spun, because I expected this to be a hard hitting, Metro produced banger, but it wasn’t; what we got was a trap pop hit.

White Sand. Meh. I’m tired of Travis Scott and Migos collaborations now. We’ve had enough for a lifetime, and this track did nothing for me.

Crown the Kings next, and despite being a filler song, it was still enjoyable. But it could get a skip on the shuffle too. Flooded definitely doesn’t though. The song is so dark; I love it. The beat is so gruesome, and Offset’s hook has you frowning again. I’m sure they recorded this song with the lights off, or maybe on Halloween, because this song really has a dark and eerie vibe to it. The first track from the best part of the album for me. Beast also had quite a sinister feel to it, but was a bit more upbeat than Flooded. Saying that, I want to shake the hand of whoever produced this beat, because this beat was really crazy, and like a beast.

Open it Up, or Deadz? The hooks of each song are so similar, wow. But the songs are both separate bangers. Deadz is a better song, but this one will still turn up the clubs, and burst your speakers. I’ve already spoken about Motorsport on this blog, and already said I like it a lot, so no point in going on about it again. Especially when I can move on to Movin Too Fast. I saw Offset preview this song on his Instagram Live some time ago, and I was swept away even by that small snippet. The song as a whole almost had me in the air, because it was such a great song. I’d go as far to say as this song is better than What The Price, from Culture.

Last couple songs now, and Work Hard has such a triumphant and proud sound to it, I love it. It’s the sort of song you can play after you secure that job you wanted, or get that grade you want. Quavo rips the beat, and flaunts his pizzazz with the autotune feature.

Notice Me was the best song on the album for me. Post Malone, hate him or love him, knows how to make hits. Him and Quavo on the hook was so good; I wheeled it so many times, and Takeoff and Offset’s flow and bars were immaculate. Too Playa was one that grew on me hugely after the next couple listens. Quavo on the beat too, and the saxophone blazing through the speakers too. Maybe I wasn’t listening properly first time, because this is top 5 best songs on the album. Quavo showed on the song, South Africa (on the Quality Control tape) that him + saxophone = musical greatness. But this is the 2nd album in the row 2 Chainz has produced a verse I’m unsure of. I still don’t like his verse in Deadz; admittedly, this one is better, but I’m still a bit meh. I thought Offset was gonna be skipped out on this track, which I was sad about until I heard ‘new Moncler!’, and I was like, yeah this is a big tune.

Final 3 tracks showed a different Migos that I’ve never seen. Made Men was Takeoff’s song. What I mean by that is, his feature on this song was probably the best feature on any song on this whole album. So smooth! He really did bare stuff here, and I loved it so much. Quavo’s features in Top Down on da Nawf  and Culture National Anthem brought a solemn tear to my eye. I never want to hear anything against Migos’ as artists, because if anything, this album showed how strong they are individually. They were doing stuff here that they’ve never done on any album before. These two tracks end the album wonderfully, and the slow tune to both songs round a very good album.

I said earlier that this album showed a transition of power towards Takeoff, but this album showed an improvement in each artist’s ability. I think to compare it to Culture already is unfair, because we have had a year to digest that body of work, and Culture 2 has been out for under a week. But for me to like it this much, having this many tracks, in this short space of time, says to me that I am going to absolutely bang this album in a couple weeks/months time.

What I took from the album was the first half of it sounded like a mixtape, with fast and less artistic tracks like Walk It Talk It and Higher we Go, whilst the second half really displayed Migos’ ability as artists. Slower and more lyrical songs, something that Migos have been heckled for not doing enough. To be able to combine both a mixtape and an album into one album is a weird achievement, but these guys have done it. Considering I rated a very small percentage of the album as being filler, that is a testament to the quality of it. Compare the artistry and production behind some of these songs, and some of the songs on Culture, and you’ll see that Culture 2 exceeded Culture in some ways.

In saying that, the album still had way too many songs. Filler songs could have been removed, or they could have saved half of the tracks for a later album/mixtape. If this album had 12 songs, I’m 100% sure that no one would be saying it’s ‘trash’, or ‘nothing on Culture’. My way to approach it was to listen to the first 12 at one time, and then the last 12 at another time; this helped me with my half mixtape, half album hypothesis.

A very good album, and an album that will grow on all of us in a matter of time.

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