Migos’ mainstream breakthrough Culture was a well-paced tour of Atlanta. After a full year — and countless Quavo features in 2017 — Migos have finally released Culture II. It’s hard to not compare the two; it’s hard to not hold Culture II to a high standard as the sequel to one of the most popular albums of 2017; it’s also hard to listen to all of the bloated sequel.
By the numbers, the difference between the two albums is obvious: Culture is 13 tracks, Culture II is 24. Sprinkled throughout the gargantuan tracklist are the makings of a well-constructed album. Of the 24 tracks on the sequel, a little under half of them are passable as quality songs. Unfortunately, the highs aren’t as high and the lows are even lower than those on the original Culture.
Where Migos thrive is with individual tracks. They work best when they focus on crafting a catchy, infectious track dripping with swagger. Given the fact that each member routinely has a verse on every song, tracks frequently last longer than four minutes, sometimes pushing five. Individually that’s fine — it fits their formula of rapid verses, ear-worm hooks and spacey trap beats. When that same formula is repeated over and over with little variation in production, flow, rhyme schemes and lyrical content, Migos drown out their own voices. Everything blurs together into one never-ending vibe fest. Even with a decent handful of assists from other trap stars and Drake, the tracks are hard to distinguish from one another.
Some of the best songs on the record are those that have other artists lending a helping hand. 21 Savage swings through on “BBO (Bad Bitches Only)” for a nice change of pace from the Migos’ near-identical flows. 2 Chainz jumps on “Too Playa” for a much-needed switch up in a lot of the rhyme schemes on the album.
The Pharrell-produced track “Stir Fry” is one of the few on Culture II that rivals the greatness of the singles from its predecessor. “Motorsport” with Cardi B and Nicki Minaj is another major highlight on the tail end of the album. The chemistry that Offset, Takeoff and Quavo show throughout the album is strong as ever — constantly trading punchlines and adlibs across the hour 45-minute runtime.
Culture II was made almost exclusively for profit. Migos abandoned any innovation that came through with Culture for a more formulaic project structured as a cash-grab with as many songs possible. A handful of songs will probably stay in rotation for mass audiences, but the vast majority will be thrown to the wayside, sitting in music libraries untouched while the bigger hits rack up millions of streams over the next few years.
The over-saturation of Migos content is quickly approaching its peak. If the group wishes to keep their relevance — and innovation — alive, they need to take a big step back.