Migos

C U L T U R E

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Migos' sophomore full-length C U L T U R E is the sound of the north Atlanta trio seizing their moment. Released in the wake of their chart-topping success on the Billboard Hot 100 for "Bad and Boujee," C U L T U R E propels the Migos three into the mainstream with a collection of woozy trap gems that is a peak in their young careers thus far. Much like Young Thug's JEFFERY, the aptly titled C U L T U R E feels like a snapshot of the climate, a standout in contemporary rap in the late 2010s. Indeed, as Quavo raps on "T-Shirt," Migos "do it for the culture." Here, that includes a heavy amount of drugs, sex, and automatic weaponry. Other typically clever Migos-isms abound -- who else can brag about "cooking up dope with a uzi" (in a Crock-Pot, no less) and make it sound plausible? -- while their flow has matured and is more confident. There's an undeniable energy and self-assuredness that bleeds into each song, not only placing C U L T U R E beyond the prolific trio's mixtapes, but also ahead of their solid debut, Yung Rich Nation. The unexpected winner on C U L T U R E is the production. With the help of Metro Boomin, Nard & B, 808 Mafia, Buddah Bless, and more, Migos are provided with an array of soundscapes that hypnotize and transport them levels ahead of contemporaries. "T-Shirt" is a highlight, riding a woozy wave that plays Quavo's haunting Auto-Tuned moans off of an ethereal female vocal sample. "Call Casting" is blessed by bright piano tinkling and "Get Right Witcha" weaves its beat through a soothing flute melody. Even the standard Zaytoven numbers are buffered by dramatic orchestration ("Big on Big") and more sparkling ivories ("Brown Paper Bag"). In addition to a grand DJ Khaled introduction, C U L T U R E also features familiar faces like Gucci Mane on "Slippery," 2 Chainz on the Hans Zimmer/Inception-horn blaring "Deadz," and Travis Scott on the cold "Kelly Price," which sounds like a Kanye B-side. The ubiquitous "Bad and Boujee" remains potent in the context of the full album, still the catchiest, most exciting and iconic song here. When Lil Uzi Vert finally stumbles in with his oversized Marilyn Manson T-shirt at the end of the track, he steals the crown by being the only guest with enough personality and charisma to match Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff. It's that infectious personality that not only makes C U L T U R E a fun listen, but also one of the biggest and best rap releases of 2017. As Offset asks on "Big on Big," "How you go big when we extra large?"

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