Migos have been around the world twice over since Culture dropped in 2017. Their style and sound took hip-hop by storm, spawning countless imitators instantly. Although they were fairly successful on solo ventures, it’s the locked-in chemistry that remains the source of their power. All that considered, the Atlanta trio has much to prove on their 4th studio album: Culture III. The last entry was a bloated, repetitive affair with a few memorable cuts sprinkled in. That’s not quite the case here as all members have returned wiser and colder, but the formula is painfully similar. The original packaging of the record does course correct on runtime but the same mistakes are being made. Like the titular albums that precede it, Culture III throws everything at the wall in hopes that it will stick. Quavo, Offset and Takeoff might have perfected their delivery–their razor-sharp triplet flows with near-telepathic connection is truly at its best, but the resulting record is still excessive.
The group’s dynamic is in rare form, but Quavo has stepped up substantially compared to past outings. Starting things off with “Avalanche” seems like a calculated risk. Here, the gentlemen ease us into the party with a slower tempo jam over the iconic Temptations sample. It’s a smooth way to reintroduce us to these trap rappers in a brighter context. Things really start to pick up once the catchy horns of “Straightenin” come in. Quavo is as confident as ever, “Niggas act like something been taken, Ain’t nothing but a little bit of straightenin’.” Future fits perfectly well into this cocktail as well on, “Picasso.” It’s a wonder they haven’t joined forced more as their codeine drenched mixture of capitalist excess is unmatched. Future laments on the hook, “I’m like Picasso I paint me a portrait. I’m getting money takin drugs with orphans.”
However, there’s still plenty of fat to be cut. The more interesting ideas–“Modern Day”, “Why Not” and “Antisocial feat. Juice WRLD” get bogged down by less inspired cuts like “Birthday” and “Jane.” “Mahomes” is a curious, late end cut that stands out for its outlashing chorus. Refreshing experimentation like this is often flanked with two or more bangers to help remind you to let go a bit. The darker cuts on the record get juxtaposed with frivolous club jams in a way that’s almost clinical. The deluxe has some tracks worth investigating but adding those extra songs to the listening experience can be a daunting task. Despite the excess, the Migos are here for the moment and basking in the diamond studded fruits of their labor.