The smash-hit Culture from Atlanta rap trio Migos celebrated its 5th birthday this week. An album that made time cease to exist for a sublime moment back in 2017.
For all the Gen z’s out there who studied the shifting hip-hop ethos such as myself, the Culture-era was an unforgettable time of coming of age. I can picture it now: at a high school party amongst the sub-par beer and weed scattered around the room, somewhere next to a dishevelled kitchen counter, “T-shirt” was playing on a speaker. Things were much simpler; the new-age energetic vibe-focused generation of hip-hop complemented the stimulating energy of adolescence without flaw. Hip-hop was enduring a renaissance of sorts, with the notorious 2016 XXL Freshman Cypher leaving jaws on the floor. IKEA was at the forefront of DIY fashion amongst hypebeasts reaching for Instagram likes, while Kurt Cobain’s french sunglasses from a 1993 photoshoot became the hottest accessory. All the while, the Migos had the world at their fingertips, drawing Beatles comparisons oddly enough, and forever leaving their mark on music that can only be remembered fondly.
Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff first grabbed the attention of the world back in 2013 with their smash hit “Versace”, which would eventually grab a Drake feature, off their Y.R.N mixtape. The trio displayed unparalleled chemistry, perhaps thanks to sharing the same DNA, as they delivered lively triplet-flow trap bars about their hustling Atlanta upbringing. Despite a seemingly endless supply of mixtapes, the group had yet to crack the studio-album formula, in part due to label disputes and creative dry-spells. All that changed when the Trio set out to release their project No Label 3, renamed Culture after a minor feud between Quavo and DJ Drama, which was released on January 27th, 2017. On Culture, the Migos were not 3 individuals, but rather one conscious entity delivering silky auto-tuned flows filling every nook and cranny with animated ad-libs. From the album’s lead single “Bad And Boujee”, which added some fresh vernacular into mainstream raps vocabulary, to the sleeper hit “Brown Paper Bag” produced by long-time collaborator Zaytoven, everything the Migos had to offer was wrapped up and delivered perfectly. The rest of 2017 was undoubtedly the Migos’s year; Culture continued to dominate the charts, going so far as to earn a Grammy nomination for “best rap album” in 2018. The trio transitioned from pillars of the Atlanta rap scene to worldwide music iconic.
What happened next? The trio capitalized on the waves of success, answering immediately with the disappointing Culture II the following year. Instead of a sequel, it was more like a bloated imitation; rushed and unfinished. The trio then began embarking on solo endeavours; most of which were passable, with some notable exceptions such as Offet’s collaboration with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin: Without Warning. Migos are still attempting at recapturing that same magic from 5 years ago, releasing a lukewarm Culture III last year, wistfully they have yet to recapture that same magic from 5 years ago. Yet all the extraordinarily average releases that have come to fruition since 2017 will never take away from the masterstroke that was captured once upon a time. The trio had everyone doing the dab; that speaks volumes. It was a remarkable addition to the shifting hip-hop landscape that solidified Migos as the new-age leaders of the Atlanta sound. Here’s to hoping we hear it again.