The sequel to Migos' 2017 breakthrough CULTURE is a great album buried beneath expendable extras. Culture II finds Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff embracing their superstardom -- charting the meteoric rise from trap hustling to a lavish lifestyle of glamorous parties and international runways -- with a whopping 24 tracks of mostly serviceable triplet-trap and some undeniable pop hits. Whether this feels overly bloated or supreme value-for-money, however, is up to listeners. Sifting through the merely passable to find those true nuggets is not difficult, as the big moments make themselves immediately known. At the top of the pack is "BBO (Bad Bitches Only)," a horn-drenched throwback produced by Kanye West and featuring an irresistible chorus by 21 Savage. The Pharrell Williams-assisted "Stir Fry" hypnotizes with unmistakable production that echoes Pharrell's work on Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot." The propulsive "Auto Pilot (Huncho on the Beat)" is another highlight on the first half, one of a handful of tracks produced exclusively by executive producers Quavo and Migos' unofficial fourth member, DJ Durel. The pair's strength as producers is apparent throughout Culture II -- sometimes creating more memorable moments than their guests -- especially on "CC" with Gucci Mane, "Crown the Kings," and the slapping "Too Playa" with 2 Chainz. In similar fashion, the trio also prove that they can hold their own without the help of a high-profile guest verse. "Gang Gang" and "Made Men" stand out, eclipsing mostly forgettable turns by Drake ("Walk It Talk It"); Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, and Big Sean ("White Sand"), and Post Malone ("Notice Me"). Most disappointing is the boring "MotorSport," notable for being the first track uniting Nicki Minaj and her spiritual successor Cardi B. While the women remain the stars of the show, it's a moment that should have been greater. These relative disappointments -- a dozen in all, give or take -- would have been fine as a bonus disc or quick mixtape, but, presented alongside much stronger tracks, only accentuate their dullness. Taking a page from the Drake playbook, Culture II runs long and tests the limits of a standard attention span at nearly two hours. With enough highlights to form a single digestible effort, Migos could have delivered another culture-defining classic with just a little trimming. Instead, they've taken what should have been a potent, big league statement and diluted it.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung