Culture 2. 24 tracks. A year between the release of Culture and Culture 2 to the date is perfect for this genre, especially as the release and natural freshness of Culture 2 will at least temporarily age the songs of Culture. No, Culture 2 isn’t a continuative successor to Culture, as it plays much more like it’s riding the success of the first album. But, continuity is hardly to be expected with the Migos, as anyone who has listened to their previous series of tapes (No Label, YRN) would know. The coverart for Culture 2 feels more like a throwback to their older covers than anything. Thankfully the cover turned out to be more than just the roman numeral “II”, but it still lacks the classic look and feel of Culture, which would be symbolic for this album as a whole.
“Narcos”, “White Sand”, “Flooded”, “Emoji A Chain”, and “Too Playa” are a few of our favorite picks from Culture 2. On “Narcos”, Quavo and Offset do great work over an amazing sounding beat, with a vibe totally inspired by the shows theme. The two have a back and forth dynamic on, and even though it feels limited it still really enhances the song. The hook itself combines Quavo’s melody with Offset’s cutting flows, something that would be a developing story across the album, and Takeoff comes through with a good verse as well. “White Sand” is good, not necessarily amazing but it’s bound to be one of the early pull away hits of the album. With a crew of features, it’s interesting this song happens to be one of the shortest on the album. Travis and Ty$ live up to their standard, and Sean maybe even exceeds what’s expected of him. Solid contributions all around. “Emoji A Chain” has a super hard hook, and a pristine sound quality with a banging beat consisting of dark, shining synths. A short Takeoff verse still manages to be one of the best utilizations of Takeoff’s unique vocals to date. Still, overall, Offset carries this song. Also carried by Offset, “Flooded” has a great hook, with cold flows and production. “Too Playa” brings the sax back, recently heard on HJ,JH, and it certainly feels like it may be the next trend, as it’s a definite vibe, and the song bobs hard. Also, 2 Chainz brings probably the best feature on the whole record here.
Quick note, the wild and far out endings on “Emoji A Chain” and “Too Much Jewelry”, are awesome. Insanely trippy guitar samples and highly drowsy autotune may set the stage for a new subgenre, psych trap, which would be greatly welcomed in a genre overall lacking in defined subgenres.
A couple songs that really failed to stand out in the lengthy tracklisting, are “Beast”, and “Crown the Kings”. Offset shines on “Beast”, but overall is run of the mill and even kind of boring. “Crown the Kings” has a solid beat and nice in the pocket flows, but these songs should be considered part of the casualties in having a 24 song tracklist.
“BBO (Bad Bitches Only)” is the big disappointment of the album, and the ONLY song that wasn’t good enough to save. Especially disappointing considering the Ye contribution, but the blame largely falls on 21 Savage here. 21 feels so uninspired, which is to be expected with his style, but his energy just doesn’t match up with the song and would’ve been much more fitting on an actual 21 Savage project.
Other songs that got high level features, “Walk It Talk It”, “CC”, and “Notice Me” are all good, but probably could have been better. The bass on “Walk It Talk It” is WOW, and the hook is hard, but if you were expecting a blowaway Drake verse, you’ll likely be let down. Nice to hear Gucci on “CC”, and Quavo’s autotune is especially nice, but with this song, Migos do little more than set the bar for a standard club banger (something they have been doing for quite a while now). On “Notice Me” it becomes clear that, at least in terms of hooks and melody, Post Malone is sort of like the white Quavo (obviously minus the rapping ability). The song is nice, aided by excellent production and solid verses from Takeoff and Offset.
The singles of Culture 2, “Motorsport”, “Stir Fry”, and “Supastars” are all good as well. “Supastars” may be the lesser of the three, but still has an incredibly hard beat. “Stir Fry” has a great vibe and flows, and honestly is pretty groovy for a Migos track. “Motorsport” might in the long run be the biggest hit off Culture 2, and the closest the Migos come to the megahit that was “Bad and Boujee” on the album (still not even close). The ladies, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, arguably bring the best verses on the song, and the Bill Belichick line on the hook is just great.
Other notable tracks, “Auto Pilot”, “Open It Up”, “Movin’ Too Fast”, and “Gang Gang” add beefiness to the album, and do indeed standout in their own ways. “Open It Up” is the moshpit song on the album, almost definitely made for the live experience. “Movin’ Too Fast” features diamond production, with Offset and Quavo killing it and again highlighting their melody vs. flow dynamic. “Gang Gang” would be seemingly generic based off title alone, but with thick bass and light, tropical production, the Migos lay down a super nice track despite being one of the few tracks where one of the three Migos (Offset) is not present. “Auto Pilot (Huncho On The Beat)” has sort of a freestyle aesthetic to it, and Quavo largely carrying the track feels like a preview into a potential future solo album. With fans wanting a solo Quavo album for so long now, and with this song, we have to question if Quavo really has the juice to stretch out his style across an entire album. Time will tell.
The last few tracks, “Made Men”, “Work Hard”, and “Top Down On Da NAWF” are a nice and calming way to end the album. “Work Hard” is the hustle song of the album, and with the Migos doing their best storytelling, it highlights storytelling as still not being a strong suit for them, which is unfortunate. It’s one of those songs that feels like it has much more meaning to the artists than it would for the consumers. Nice whistles pop up again on the song, and we don’t doubt the Mama Migos is a very, very proud mama. “Made Men” is excellent, and is the zone we want see Takeoff in more often, which hopefully will come with his upcoming collaboration project with Lil Yachty.
The intro and outro tracks, “Higher We Go”, and “Culture National Anthem”, are fine, and at least add a little cohesiveness to the overall tracklisting. The intro has a cold, nightmarish beat and feels like a fresh style of production. The Travis Scott influence on Quavo is a given, but is especially noticeable here on the intro, which also consists of a short Takeoff verse and a decent hook. The outro, “Culture National Anthem”, has a close to perfect hook and production for what it’s meant to be, but overall still feels a little underwhelming. Hope it grows into something great.
With 24 tracks, it’s a given that some tracks will fail to stand out. In total, about four or five tracks really fail to stand out, and with one or two tracks failing to standout on the first Culture, the numbers about add up. It should be much easier to complain about 24 tracks in the case that you aren’t a true Migos fan, and this complaint is buffed by the fact that a very long QC tape and an almost underwhelming Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho projects were released just in prior months. Certainly we’re going to need a break from new Migos music, and it would probably be a good idea for them to take at least eight or nine months off at this point, perhaps touring. The oversaturation of Migos music will hopefully allow for other unique artists to stand out a bit more in the coming year.
Culture 2 fails to live up to the greatness of the first, not only because it’s less concentrated, but because the best tracks don’t reach the level of Culture’s best tracks. There is no Bad and Boujee, there is no “Slippery”, and we STILL don’t get an official release of “Dat Way”.
Up to this point, Quavo and Offset have battled it out for the spot of the general favorite Migo, so with Culture 2, it’s exciting to see who’s going to pull ahead now. Fortunately, the strengths of the three Migos continue to be amplified, while minimizing their weaknesses. Quavo’s melody vs. Offsets flows becomes a story of Culture 2.
Many wanted Takeoff to hit a major progression with Culture, something he fell short of. On Culture 2, Takeoff mostly redeems himself by coming more and more into his own, and getting a few shine moments as well. Still, he remains the youngest and least known Migo. Overall the lyrical content or storytelling of the Migos are nothing to write home about, but over time we’re excited to pick up on all the timeless lines and signature Migos ad libs.
Culture 2 is a B or B- album. It’s a 6 or 7 out of 10. It’s not nearly as good or as classic feeling as Culture, but also not even close to as bad as some will make it out to be. As shown by Drake, Future, and Chris Brown, large tracklistings are a highly effective way of capitalizing on a large fanbase and racking in streams. With 24 songs, the lack of truly “bad” songs is almost impressive, but the mediocrity is more apparent than ever.