By Julia Lerner
Other than the commercials, the halftime show is, quite frankly, the only real reason to watch the Super Bowl. With historic performances from Beyoncé and those other dudes that nobody paid attention to, Left Shark and Janet Jackson’s right nipple, the halftime show is iconic, and people have increasingly high expectations.
So this year, when it was announced that Lady Gaga would be performing, there were some pretty mixed emotions about it. In fact, my signature was one of almost 70,000 that signed the petition to replace her with Migos.
Nothing against Gaga, but Migos would have killed it. With singles like “Bad and Boujee” topping Billboard Hot 100, the recent release of C U L T U R E, and the fact that the Atlanta Falcons were playing (Atlanta being Migos’ home town), it just made sense for them to be there.
Now, let’s start from the beginning.
I had some pretty high hopes for this album. Their first album, Young Rich N*ggas, was far from extraordinary, but that’s not to say that it was inherently bad. It was just monumentally okay. The lyrics felt canned, forced and like they were trying too hard. Since then, Migos has figured out their place in hip-hop. Hits like their 2014 song “Fight Night,” or their 2015 singles “Pipe It Up” and “Versace” have helped the trio define their musical flow and establish their role in shaping contemporary music.
The release of “Bad and Boujee” last October continued to establish their superiority. We all expected greatness from C U L T U R E, but damn — did it still manage to blow me away.
I was worried this album would be some kind of star-studded, bright, flashy production about girls and money. That’s not to say that’s what I expected from Migos — I expect the triplet-laced flow and the sometimes somber, usually colorful lyrics. But, looking at all of the features, I was nervous that that was what we were going to get. I’m so glad I was wrong.
- “Culture (ft. DJ Khaled)” — 3/5 stars
Notable lyrics: Yeah, I bought the Benz off the lot / Just to give your ho a lift
I understand personal branding but, Jesus Christ, can someone please tell DJ Khaled to stop yelling at me?
I get it, I played myself. ANOTHA ONE! It’s definitely annoying, but I think I’m mostly just angry that someone has capitalized on something so unbelievably idiotic. I’m not going to say DJ Khaled ruined this first track right off the bat but like … DJ Khaled may have ruined this first track right off the bat.
This song was more stereotypical, and less of the thought-out, smart lyrics Migos is associated with. I think, though, that was purposeful — songs about having sex and buying expensive cars are pretty much anticipated in hip-hop. Migos is not buying into it, Migos is owning it.
- “T-Shirt” — 4.5/5 stars
Notable lyric: Never been a gopher, but I always been a soldier
“T-Shirt” is arguably my favorite track on the album. Released as a promotional track about a month ago, we knew this song long before we heard the rest of C U L T U R E. The rapping, the lyrics, all of it just works. “T-Shirt” is the powerhouse at the front of the album that makes you want to listen to the rest of it.
- “Casting Call” — 4/5 stars
Notable lyric: Came from a Cup O’ Noodles / I fucked the game, Kama Sutra
The thing about this song is that it perfectly showcases exactly what each member of Migos brings to the table. Released as another promotional single for the album, it shows us the real soul of Migos. We see the trio doing what they do best. Takeoff hits us with the bass while Quavo’s and Offset’s flows show why these three not only deserved the halftime show, but a permanent place in hip-hop history. Sandwiched between the two best songs on the album, “Casting Call” leaves little to be desired, but still does not quite manage to creep onto the same pedestal as “Bad and Boujee” and “T-Shirt.”
- “Bad and Boujee (ft. Lil Uzi Vert)” –– 6/5 stars
Notable lyric: Bitch I’m a dog, woof
“Bad and Boujee” has been in the limelight since its initial release in October. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 and inspired everyone’s favorite meme. The third and final promotional single from the album, it follows “T-Shirt” and “Casting Call,” and easily outshines both. This song is a perfect example of the famous triplets associated with Migos. Lines like “fuckin on your bitch she a THOT THOT THOT,” and “cookin up dope in the CROCK POT POT” follow their signature style. You also hear some of the best lines on the album, from “bitch I’m a dog, woof,” to Quavo’s references, like “still be playin’ with pots and pans, call me Quavo Ratatouille.” Overall, just straight fire.
- “Get Right Witcha” –– 4/5 stars
Notable lyric: Askin’ the Lord, forgive me (hey)
I’m not used to having to think about songs about selling drugs. The references throughout it are smart and thought-out. Migos makes a reference to the Taliban at one point, but not because of terrorism. It was because of the taliban’s monopoly on heroin in Afghanistan and Vietnam. Later, Quavo references Biggie Smalls’ “Kick In The Door.” Overall, a well-thought-out piece of music.
- “Slippery (ft. Gucci Mane)” — 2.5/5 stars
Notable lyric: I’m not crippin’ I buy Ferraris like Jordans, I’m Mike and y’all Pippen
While a clever piece of music, I remain almost disappointed with this song. Following hit after hit on C U L T U R E, it’s hard to hear just an average song. Of course the flow was great, as I expect with the trio. What this song lacked was focus. It jumped from drinking to making money to… their grandma? The songs that precede this piece on the album all seem to have a common theme tying the verses together, and “Slippery” really needed something to do that. The Gucci verse carried this song.
- “Big on Big” –– 3/5 stars
Notable lyric: Building these houses in places, I’m playing Monopoly
“Big on Big” falls into a similar place as “Slippery.” Unfortunately, it just doesn’t carry the same weight on the album as the earlier pieces. We hear the familiar triplets again, with the repetition of “big on big,” but with less of a punch. There were a couple of really great lines in this song, like “six cell phones and I ain’t social,” but they were not enough to carry the piece.
- “What the Price” –– 5/5 stars
Notable lyrics: Tell me what the preacher preach about (preacher) / Tell me what the teacher teach about (teacher) / I’ma go find me a better route
Not flippant. Determined. Takeoff’s line from this song about finding a better route to success is not rude or disrespectful, it’s resolute. This song stands as the trio’s sort-of “fuck you” to society at large and to the notion that there is some kind of set “path to success,” which resonates with everyone trying to find success or happiness or whatever. This track stands out from the rest of the album because of how somber and serious it is, and I’m still blown away by it.
- “Brown Paper Bag” –– 3.5/5 stars
Notable lyrics: You talkin’ ’bout modern day rap, but don’t know the CULTURE
Another more subdued song, “Brown Paper Bag” explores the changing landscape of hip-hop and the palpable shifts in contemporary music — but it does so in a way that’s easy-ish to listen to. It’s smooth, but it doesn’t have the same punchy vibes as “What the Price.”
- “Deadz (ft. 2 Chainz)” –– 2(chainz)/5 stars
Notable lyrics: Got dames by the double, do everything but cuddle / Might buy a bowling alley, I got money out the gutter
“Deadz” is like that movie that you’re so excited to see and then when you actually see it… it sucks. It catches you with that beautiful hook and then disappoints you with literally everything else. I’m so, 100 percent anti this song. This song reminds me of their Y.R.N days- it’s painfully average.
- “All Ass” –– 3.5/5 stars
Notable lyrics: Bitch lookin’ like a Kardashian (Kardashian) / We hopped in the coupe and we smashin’
As far as songs about strippers go, this one is decent. I don’t really have much to say about it, which I think kinda speaks volumes all on its own.
- “Kelly Price (ft. Travis Scott)” –– 4/5 stars
Notable lyrics: Woke up, cocaine all in my hair, thought it was lice, yeah, yeah
Smooth. Easy. Slow. Overall just a good piece of music.
- “Out Yo Way” – 4.5/5 stars
Notable lyrics: I put this weight on like I put a cape on
The last song on C U L T U R E is another song about striving for success and is admittedly heavier than most of the songs on the album. It’s a really solid, really strong way to end the album. It’s not at all reminiscent of the songs preceding it, does not really do anything to complete the album and would work just as well as a standalone single.
Overall, I give this album 3.8 out of 5 stars. Give it a solid listen but don’t dedicate the 58 minutes it takes to listen to it all the way through.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Migos’ Facebook page.
Julia Lerner is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.