The Atlanta Hip-Hop trio, Migos, has released their long awaited sequel to their previous album Culture II. They made their first splash into the Hip-Hop scene with the Zaytoven produced song Versace in 2013. Migos continued to release many singles and mixtapes, most notably the single Fight Night and the mixtape YRN 2. They then received their first taste of mainstream success in 2017 with the lead single for their album Culture, Bad and Boujee. The track peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and led to the creation of a great deal of memes. Culture, at the time, was a trend setting album. It featured lush trap instrumentals and extremely catchy flows that were hard not to love. Migos were able to go mainstream without changing their sound, and instead changing the sound of mainstream rap. This project was the start of a future trilogy of albums that all end up trying to channel what made the original so popular.
The first sequel Culture II was released in early 2018. It failed to live up to the expectations set by the previous project. This could be due to a plethora of reasons like repetitive song writing or the overall length of the album. It contained 24 tracks and ran for a very long 1 hour 45 mins. The Migos changed their approach to more of a shotgun approach; releasing many tracks hoping that one or a few would reach the success of their previous hits like T-Shirt or Slippery. Part of the reason for the high track count was to exploit how streaming services function. 15 plays counts as an album sale, meaning albums with higher amounts of songs have increased performance on major music charts.This approach is even more evident when looking at the project Quality Control: Control The Streets Volume 2 that spans 36 songs.
This project has been long in the making, originally being announced in October of 2018 and set to release during the beginning of 2019. This release date was further pushed back into early 2020 due to members of the Migos pursuing solo projects. Even this release date couldn’t stick because of the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in the project being released in early June this year.
The project contains the Migos we have all come to expect; trap beats, adlibs and heavy 808s firing on all cylinders. The album kicks off with the song Avalanche which is a banger. The instrumental used is very unique using crisp horns and a counter melody played on a guqin as well as some great chemistry from the trio. You would be hard pressed to find many other tracks like this. Although the beats used are fun to listen to and in general are up to par, they are very cookie cutter and formulaic. Many of the tracks on the record feature the same repetitive structure; starting with a Quavo verse into a Quavo hook. The trio has used this songwriting system heavily in the past. They could benefit from a more diverse composition.
The use of features is very hit or miss. The song Malibu is a great example of a strong one. Polo G delivers a hard hitting verse that really adds to the song. When there is a feature on a track the instrumental used is geared towards the guest. The song Light It Up was a pleasant surprise for me. The Migos sound surprisingly natural on a drill beat. On the other hand the song with Justin Beiber feels very out of place stylistically and lyrically as it is a love song. Any track featuring Drake seems to warrant special attention to me. Sadly I was quite disappointed with Having Our Way. Drake raps for the entire first half of the song in a boring monotone voice followed by sub par rapping from all members of the Migos.
The project failed to encapsulate very much of the magic that came with the first Culture; catchy hooks, great chemistry, concise track list and unique production. Culture III doesn’t feel like a fitting sequel to any of the previous Culture projects. Instead, it feels drawn out at this point and it seems the Migos and their label are trying to milk every last bit they can from the name Culture. Ultimately, this is a Migos album and there are some tracks like Avalanche and Malibu that make the project worth a listen. But moving forward I hope the Migos try something new stylistically and build on the flaws that held this project back.