Migos Sets High Bar for their Forthcoming ‘Culture’ Album

The Migos, a rap trio from north Atlanta, are having their biggest year ever. Known for their hit singles “Versace” with Drake and “Fight Night,” as well as their role in the creation and popularization of the dab dance, Migos are a veritable cultural force whose innovation and originality are rivaled by few modern musicians. In preparation for their sophomore album Culture, they have released four singles that exemplify their musical dexterity and hit-making potential.

The first single, “Bad & Boujee” featuring Lil Uzi Vert, is the trappers’ most commercially successful song thus far. Spending nine weeks (and counting) on the Billboard Hot 100 and two weeks at the number one spot (thanks to a ringing endorsement from Atlanta’s own Donald Glover in his Golden Globe victory speech), “Bad & Boujee” is an anthem. Now, while I wholeheartedly enjoy the Migos’ discography, I simply cannot get behind “Boujee.” The beat is far from producer best Metro Boomin’s best it is punchy, at the risk of being boring and even forgettable. What I wish was forgettable is Lil Uzi’s guest verse, which is nothing short of horrendous. He enters with a barrage of “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!,”’s, it completely derails the track’s momentum. Admittedly, the hook is infectious, spawning one of the funniest memes of the new year with its “rain drop, drop top” verse. Otherwise, I seem to be of the minority opinion, as the song still sits atop the Billboard Hip Hop charts at No. 1 and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While “Bad & Boujee” may be divisive, the Migos’ next single, “Call Casting ” is a joy. They prove their chemistry on each verse, beginning with a parallel set of ad-libs and opening bars. Rapper Takeoff handles the hook, recalling being “Up early in the morning, trapping.” His trademark staccato and triple-time flow characterize his verse, leaving nothing to be desired. Quavo, the Migos’ de facto leader, oozes charisma throughout, and Offset caps off the song with a verse so good it begs listeners to run the whole song back from the beginning. Budda Bless’ production is infectious, and the twinkling keys add an almost-tropical sound to the track.

The most impressive of the singles off the Culture album so far is unquestionably “T-Shirt.” Nard & B’s production is druggy and atmospheric, the synths haunting and oscillating in a way that both raises tension in the listener and perfectly clashes with the sharp roboticism of Quavo’s auto-tune. Quavo and Takeoff manage the refrain, and Offset delivers an uncharacteristically melodious verse that completely steals the show. The song is a show-stopper and the Quavo-directed music video is the same, portraying the Migos as literal fur trappers. The concept is profoundly audacious and self-referential, especially considering that music videos for trap-rap songs generally involve, well, the trap. This music video turns genre-defining tropes on their head to wonderful effect; guns become bows and arrows, the Migos are draped in furs on a snowy locale reminiscent of The Revenant, and Pyrex moves from the kitchen to the campfire. The song and the visual complement each other perfectly, and in the words of Chance the Rapper, “This needs an Oscar.”

Culture already thrust the Migos into an upper echelon where popularity, creativity and quality are concerned. Takeoff, Offset and Quavo are walking with a newfound swagger from the success of their new singles. The problems from their early discography (from Quavo carrying the tracks to a marked inconsistency with their projects) have all but disappeared, and the result is fun, intriguing and a genuine rush to experience. If the Migos can continue the originality and execution from tracks like “Call Casting” and “T-Shirt,” and avoid unnecessary guest verses, their forthcoming album may be their best yet. Culture drops Jan. 27, and I’ll be eagerly waiting to see what Quavo, Offset and Takeoff have prepared.