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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Migos return with “CULTURE” when we need it most

Migos break the system and give us CULTURE with no apology. In a record-label dictated industry and a politically shattering country, Migos’ trio of Quavo, Offset and Takeoff are just warming up. Migos live like mainstream millennials, but haven’t fallen under the pressure of the Hollywood industry. A Gwinnett County formed trio, Migos make me much more grateful and proud to know I went to high school a 15-minute drive from them.

It’d be shame to say Atlanta hasn’t been on a roll since the premiere of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta,” the Falcons’ reign to the Superbowl and the vibrancy that thrives within the Southern Belt. Migos have long been turning parties out before “Bad and Boujee.” Take for instance Drake, one of the most prominent “rappers” that we’ve had, remixing Migo’s “Versace” track in 2013. Here lies the difference between Drake and Migos. Drake will sell himself to please his audience and straddle every possible approach at relatability. Migos, on the other hand, put purpose to person. Confident and relentless, Migos are hometown heroes with a regional status.

Picking and choosing the mixtape sound or the consistent story of what makes a full album a whole body of work, Migos return with their second record, CULTURE, and serve a full-length curated album with their own hype. It becomes obvious when other artists sell themselves short for the charts, lose credibility within their own realm of creativity or release the typical hit, but it’s refreshing to hear Migos alter consumer consumption by being themselves.

Their debut album, Young Rich Nation, fell short of reaching the general consumer market because, at the time, being intentful and bold wasn’t something typical of an emerging group out of North Atlanta. It became obvious that trap rap would take over and, on its opening track, DJ Khaled reminds us that Migos are very aware of their social status from supporters and doubters alike. “For all the f**kboys that ever doubted Migos, you played yourself.” With a chart-topping album sitting along the likes of The Weeknd and Bruno Mars, “they rep the culture from the streets,” and Atlanta is proudly behind.

Migos have built a community within an album that has included the larger context of life and the chase of fulfillment. Interpreting culture is a thin line between experiencing it firsthand and witnessing it from the perspective of music and education. Migos haven’t changed anything about their culture, but instead enhanced their idea of self-identity, only this time society has finally caught on. This is reietrated in obvious hits like “T-Shirt,” a follow-up single that flows like raging water. Here, Quavo, Takeoff and Offset establish the dominance in their own voices; the trio fixates on both their individuality and the ability to come together and shift the dynamic of group rap. “Do it for the culture, they gon’ bite like vultures,” describes cultural appropriation in a single line. While their music has become a global influence for Generation Y, we can be honest and acknowledge that their music will most likely be playing at the white frat parties with no intent on learning the CULTURE behind the artists.

CULTURE is full. With a natural chemistry that is shown in various features from Gucci Mane and Travis $cott, the collaboration isn’t limited to the production of the song, but rather the intent and power that can come from working with artists who share the same vision and appreciation for art and life within a three-minute timespan.

I’m not sure how some may begin their day, but Migos on my way to my 9 a.m. class remind me that I’m “Bad and Boujee.” This clear hit, a chart-topping first single that has been sitting at No. 1 for the past seven weeks, is one of the album’s conversation-changing singles. In their interpretation, Migos reminisce on spending money and spending time with women who have an extensive idea of taste for luxury and materialism. In a successful attempt to emphasize their cultural influence on fans and haters, Migos are groundbreaking the rap industry while simultaneously proving why CULTURE is an album built on alpha strength in a pack of omegas.

Subtle skills put in work after dark. In “Get Right Witcha,” a Murda produced beat, Migos combine a dramatic counterpart rap between the three rappers as they inspire the hustle behind the scenes– “I ain't really here to take no pictures, middle finger up, fuck the system.” As Migos lift the barrier of language and rules that apply to lyrical rap, their ability to use tone and rhythm has worked to create a pace of timeless production. Sure we can compare them to Future’s cadence, but the switch of pace is cleverly constructed in their approach at finding the hustle in their flow through various Atlanta trap beats.

As an Atlanta native, the long late-night drives through the city seem to be a bit different when we become invested in the music that fills our speakers after the function. “Kelly Price” features the stages of drugs throughout the night and a piano roll with a heavy bass, an example of music under the influence that gives us Migos in a new stage of life. Time ticks longer than the six-minute track gives us time to process, but here, time is only of the essence and we have as much as we give ourselves room. It becomes materialistic to think of time as our own when we cannot fulfill the empty moments we wish we could resolve with a significant other; love is lethal and the drug is dangerously addicting.

The extra mile may be harder when the love isn’t reciprocated. In Migos’ closing track, “Out Your Way” acknowledges the important women in their lives and the influence that has kept them humble. While the obvious materialistic amenities that come with success can bring happiness, the reality of success is knowing who is left after you’ve reached the level of assurance within yourself. CULTURE is an hour-long narrative of Atlanta rap, an ode to time and a timestamp of new art effectively altering the idea of conceptual lyricism. Quavo, Offset and Takeoff reinvent themselves continuously by exploring their own idea of music and CULTURE. At most, Migos give us something to look forward to in a country based on polar opposites and the straddling notion of taking what isn’t theirs.

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