The dreads. The gaudy gold chains. The gilded Cartier frames and blacked out Versace shades. The sticky Southern accents coupled with bars spit in triplets. The excess of green: cash and kush, because duh. Oh yeah, the undeniable hits, too. And now, last but not least, the culture. Yes, you heard right. The culture.
This is the moment Migos – separately known as Quavo, Takeoff and Offset – have been waiting for since Drake blasted their straight-out-the-bando rhymes to the mainstream stratosphere with the help of the infectious remix of “Versace” back in 2013. But the next four years didn’t come without setbacks. It was clear when they kicked in through the back door of the rap game that naysayers would write the 20-somethings off as child’s play. Industry vets were unsold on the the staying power of their rhythmic trap rap. Purists counted them out of the conversation of influence even after hits like “Hannah Montana,” “Handsome and Wealthy” and “Fight Night.” Even after a handful of rappers ran off with their signature sauce-like spitfire flow, it felt like the trio still had much to prove. Especially after not one single song from their delayed studio debut, Yung Rich Nation, broke the Hot 100.
But even in the midst of quieter times for the trifecta known for bringing good vibes with their bouncy trap sound, Migos’ unwavering dedication to conquering the game spoke volumes. While advancing leaps and bounds past dreams of rap fame, they had arrived but still had to make people outside of the South believers of their campaign. Bouncing back in 2015 with “Look at My Dab,” which reintroduced them to the charts, and songs like “Pipe It Up” and “One Time,” they continued to make a name for themselves past being one-hit wonders. Tightening up their lyrics and zeroing in on delivering a unique signature sound of their own, they took all the criticisms in stride and bossed up, ultimately evolving into one of the best rap groups of today.
For Migos, their saving grace is their ability to churn out hit after hit. So when they released “Bad and Boujee,” a culmination of their catchy flows paired with rap rock star Lil Uzi Vert’s hypnotic vibe, it was certainly a (meme-able) moment that had everyone talking and listening, even reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts. As the lead single from Culture, their second studio album and arguably the most anticipated hip-hop release of the year so far, the track solidified that the trio had no interest in resting on their laurels or sparing anyone from recognizing their overlooked talent.
“It’s time to let the culture be known. It’s time to claim it,” Offset said in a recent interview. “And it’s time to claim that we are the Migos, and for people to understand that this is what we did. We did a lot for music. Migos is the culture. Seriously. There are artists that are way bigger than us that get recognition off our flow.”
While Culture doesn’t stray too far from their past projects, an elevated confidence pulses through the album that feels like a victory lap for a group of guys who have fought for their respect in rap. On the album’s opener “Culture,” Migos claim their success (checks, coupes, chicks and trips to Cancun) with the help of DJ Khaled, who found a second career as a motivational speaker just last year. Handing out yet another major key for the masses to digest, the producer boasts, “They try to play us, they play themselves. For all you f**k boys that ever doubted the Migos. You played yourself! F**k boy, bow down.”
The menacing feel of “T-Shirt” is a solid reminder that no matter how famous they become, they have yet to abandon the savage lifestyle. So much so that they brought their lifestyle to camera for real on Donald Glover’s acclaimed FX series Atlanta. Songs like “Deadz” and “Kelly Price” flaunt their versatility as Migos brilliantly employ a different approach to what we’ve come to expect from them. Cinematic and certainly the grimiest and darkest tracks in their discography, Culture adapts the disorientated rabbit hole of woozy sounds championed by their peers like Travis Scott, who also appears on “Kelly Price.” And surprisingly, this switch up works well without feeling forced.
From “All A**,” an ode to bad b*****s with even badder assets, to “Out Yo Way,” the unexpected closing track that steers away from the stereotypical view of women in rap, Migos makes sure to cater to every single fan — from the stripper at your local gentleman's club to suburban high school students obsessed with everything that trends on the internet.
You can try to hate on Migos, but you can’t hate on ambition and innovation. And at this point, you can’t escape them. From the music charts to late night television to radio and social media, the underdogs are now indeed the culture.
(Photo: Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET)