The more I listen to the third installment of "Culture III", the more I realize how inessential the bulk of the material here is.
Migos are one of the most influential musical acts in Hip-Hop of the last decade. The relentless triplet flows, oddly smooth chemistry in between the three, excited adlibs and blunt choruses. The first installment in the "Culture" series was a definitive moment not just for Migos but for Hip-Hop as a whole. Personally, whilst it still was a flawed record, I couldn't help but admire the ambition and fresh energy!
Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the market to become saturated with the Migos sound whether that was because of Migos themselves or those who shamelessly copied Migos style.
Nevertheless, "Culture II" was unbelievably influential as well...but this time it wasn't because of the music.
"Culture II" proved the success of "Stream-trolling". Why put effort into a fully-fleshed and refined album experience when you can just craft a handful of hit single and sprinkle them into a 24-song filler-fest? Migos did just that with the bloated "Culture II" and diluted their sound to another level.
Subsequently, the trio would take a break and focus on solo material. The only problem is that these solo adventures each suffered from the same lazy songwriting and "stream trolling" tactic. I don't think even hardcore Migos will defend albums like "QUAVO HUNCHO" or "The Last Rocket".
In 2020, they released some singles to show fans that Migos were still together. In my opinion, the first three singles, "Taco Tuesday", "Give No Fxk" and "Racks 2 Skinny" were painfully mediocre. Maybe Migos agreed with me, because the only one of those single that would make it on to "Culture III" would be "Need It" featuring NBA Youngboy which coincidentally was the only single I thoroughly enjoyed.
The question wasn't whether Migos are talented, they certainly are. The question was what was Migos bringing to the table in 2021. In what ways could this album sound impactful and important in today's rap landscape?
Sadly, although "Culture 3" is an improvement over it's predecessor, I don't think Migos has really come close to answering that question.
This latest release still will most likely face the label of "bloated" with it's 19-track and a run-time at 1 horu and 15 minutes. However, I think it's worth pointing out that there's nothing wrong with a long tracklist. Personally, just in this year, I've enjoyed projects like "Slime Language 2", an album which felt even more like a compilation, had the same run-time and even more tracks. As long as you keep me interested and give me new sounds every now & then, I can overlook length easily as an individual reviewer, especially contextually for Trap music. Also, people forget that the first "Culture" wasn't "Short", it was nearly and hour of material...anyway
So, how did the Migos utilize their hour plus of music?
Well, it's just okay. It's almost hard to write a thorough review of this album. Migos clearly didn't take many risks here nor did they use this third installment to say much new or do anything fresh.
The only reason this album doesn't become stale and dated is because of the relatively engaging production.
I'll admit that the Migos deserve recognition for choosing some stand-out producers to give them something slightly different than the bland mainstream filler. Even on the tracks I find a bit clumsy, at least I can admire the attempt at being more energetic production-wise like on the Polo G-assisted, "Malibu". Ther are plenty of highlights where the production inspires a more excited performance by the Migos. The sublty nocturnal vibe of "Modern Day" makes for one of the more infectious rhythms, the mystic and nostalgic sounding horns on "Jane" make for my personal favorite banger on here and the summery tune on "I Need It" from Buddah Bless was stunning when I first heard it and it still is in context of the album. The point is the production was pretty solid here. I can't complain too much. Sure, it's not flawless, I'd love to not be reminded of some really cheap-sounding 2015 West-coast party jams (Sage The Gemini, Kid ink) on the utterly unremarkable, "Birthday" but compared to what Iwas expecting, I think there's more of an effort here to be gripping with the instrumentals.
...This leaves the blame on the Migos themselves for the majority of this album.
I don't think the group had enough material to fill an album of this length. I mean from the start, Migos don't seem excited to make this album. "Avalanche" has clever sample work and I think Quavo's starting verse is slick and confident. Offset was a little off with his delivery, sounding really similar to Quavo for some reason but fine. It was a good start to the album. It doesn't take long for the Trio to run out of content. The very next track, "Having Our Way" was enjoyable at first for me, but soon after I noticed how...empty this track is. Not only does Drake just dominate the entire first half of the track, making this sound less like a Migos track and more just like a Drake track but there is so little here that sticks with me, no real catchy chorus nor do the Migos bring many wiry flows. The lead single, "Straightenin" has some colorful production and a semi-memorable chorus with that Migos repetition, but god! It's just so formulaic? ...and tame. The Migos don't seem anywhere as wild and off-the-leash as they have before.
mean, the next tracks don't do much for me either but because of their features they don't overstay their welcome. The real issue comes on the solo tracks here.
Not only are there moments where Migos sounds like they're borrowing from their contemporaries like "Vaccine" which sounds like a throwaway Travis Scott but then we have the second leg of this album. Wow.
"Why Not", "Handle My Business" & "Roadrunner" are just frustratingly uneventful. "Why Not" is barely under four minutes yet after 30 seconds, I'm already more than ready to skip. It would be one thing to get mad at MIgos' repetition and mind-numbing choruses, but that's not the case here. I'm not mad at that, in fact I enjoyed the redundant yet hypnotic "spelling-out" chorus on "Mahomes". My complaint is how dull these tracks are, without much to come back to whether it's fiery ad-libs or punchy catchy hooks. That's not on these tracks.
The second half also features some questionable features like the Justin Bieber feature which interrupts any steam the group were building with an awkward "pop?" track. "Antisocial" also was a miss, I don't think Juice's emo sound matched with those melancholic piano notes makes much sense with Migos and regardless this is one of his less striking posthumous features.
The thing is I WANT to like this album. Migos have always been a group I've enjoyed, so I can only imagine how dull this might be if you don't overlook the flawed yet charismatic qualities of tracks like "Jane", "Mahomes" or "Picasso".
The production helps me tolerate the weaker moments here but I'd be lying if I said much of this was memorable or...interesting. The third installment of Migos' "Culture" series put the future of the trio in question. What do they have to offer at this point because this just seems unimportant.
I'll still give this a semi-positive rating cause I still have a soft spot for Migos and there are a couple of hot tracks here but...
I hope Offset, Takeoff and Quavo will find something else soon to keep me paying attention.
FAV TRACKS: "Avalanche", "Modern Day", "Jane", "Mahomes", "I Need It"
LEAST FAV TRACKS: "Birthday", "What You See", "Why Not"