If I had to give the music Migos makes a movie equivalent, it’d be a big, dumb action flick. Not a schlocky B-tier one, but not an excellent one either. “Culture” isn’t “The Raid” of hip-hop, but it’s definitely above something like “Terminator Genysis” (for the sake of argument, I’m ignoring the Marvel movies).
I’d be happy putting them on the same level as something like “John Wick.” Both have undeniable high points and are pretty solid overall. But they are both far from flawless. Along with this, outside of a few standout moments, neither really demands your attention.
What I mean by “demands your attention” is that this album, for most of its run-time at least, just kind of blends into itself. You’re not listening to a collection of Migos songs on this album, you’re basically listening to one 58-minute song.
And what type of music do I mean when I say this album is 58-minute Migos song? That’s easy: trap music. The type of rap on this album is rap where the high-hats rumble and vocals mumble. If you are not a fan of this type of music, you probably won’t like this album.
That being said, there’s a lot to like here, even for people that aren’t fans of this type of music. If you liked the single “Bad and Boujee” for this album, there’s a good chance you’ll find more to like on this album. And for fans of trap music, Migos displays on this album what separates them from the plethora of Atlanta-based trap-rappers out there: their delivery.
You want to know why an Atlanta-based trap trio is topping Ed Sheeran on the Billboard Top 100 with their hit “Bad and Boujee”? It’s because the delivery on the track is on point. Seriously, go listen to this and pay attention to the hook.
You wouldn’t be wrong if you used “bored” to describe how Offset delivers this earworm. It sounds like he’s using as little effort as humanly possible to form these words. And yet this hook brings an insane amount of energy to the track. He might sound bored, but there is an undeniable bite to how Offset spits out these words.
Migos has their delivery perfected to an art on this album: the staccato on “T-shirt,” the hilarious “splash” onomatopoeia on “Slippery” and the absurd use of ad-libs on “Call Casting,” to name a few. Migos put in a lot of effort into this album, and they bring charisma in spades.
Another noteworthy part of the album is obviously the production. Trap music in general just wouldn’t work if the beats are boring. Just look at Post Malone’s album “Stoney,” where the beats want to make you go to sleep on that album. On “Culture” though, the beats meet the energy Migos brings to tracks pound for pound.
At the end of the day, I’m giving this album 3/5 stars, and I said earlier that the album had some flaws. I also compared the album to a big, dumb action flick. Dumb is a great word to describe the lyrics on this album.
“I’m young and rich and plus I’m Boujee/ I’m not stupid so I keep the Uzi,” Offset states on “Bad and Boujee.” “Free my partners (John Wick),” Takeoff demands on “Slippery.” Takeoff also lets us know that his “wrist is glass/ my neck is glass” on the track “All Ass.” These examples are pretty good indicators of the lyrical content of the album.
These lyrics aren’t ground-breaking, they aren’t even that clever. The most they got going for them is that sometimes they’re pretty funny in a “wait what are they saying” type of way (like come on, that John Wick line is its own sort of golden). But if you’ve listened to any sort of trap music before, you’ve heard these exact lyrics before.
This album, however, does not need to be 58 minutes long. Migos easily could have—and should have—cut the three-song stretch from “Big on Big” to “Brown Paper Bag.”
These songs aren’t even that bad. They just commit the sin of taking up space and bloating up the album. Instead of having a tight and compact album with a reasonable runtime, we have a three-song stretch that doesn’t really bring much to the table.
All this being said, “Culture” isn’t a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. But it isn’t a good one either. There are high moments, mainly the tracks with featured MCs or where Migos try switching it up, and these are undeniable highs. Then there’s the rest of the album. It isn’t really bad, but it’s just kind of derivative, the tracks blend together and are very samey-sounding.
This album is great for turning your brain off. Don’t expect to get much out of it in terms of fulfillment, but do expect to get a lot of mileage out of it. I can easily see myself coming back to this album when I have to kill an hour in the gym, clean my room or do any type of busy-work really. Migos didn’t raise the bar for trap-music with this album, they just gave a better picture of where the bar rests.