Cul­ture II

Even dur­ing their ear­lier years, run­time has been an is­sue for Mi­gos. Both 2013’s Young Rich Ni**as and 2014’s Rich Ni**a Time­line clock in at over an hour, while the full 25-track ver­sion of No La­bel II passed an hour-and-a-half. Only one year ago, their sopho­more LP, CU L T U R E, was cel­e­brated for its pared­down ap­proach, pro­duc­ing mul­ti­ple hits while trim­ming the fat. With the ar­rival of 24-track, 106-minute Cul­ture II, many were quick to point out the al­bum’s un­wieldy length as a re­ac­tion to stream­ing’s ef­fect on chart num­bers and po­si­tions.

Quavo, the group’s melodic mas­ter, dom­i­nates “Auto Pi­lot,” “CC” and “Beast” with his own hooks and verses be­fore his mates can have their turns. On the oc­ca­sions where he isn’t lead­ing the way, songs like “Emoji A Chain” and “Flooded” feel like they’re more hook than verse. Off­set amazes early on with his rapid-fire de­liv­ery on “Nar­cos,” while Take­off fi­nally gets his de­served solo by third-last track “Made Men,” af­ter pick­ing up third verses over the bulk of the re­lease. Pos­i­tives in­clude “Stir Fry,” which re­mains the strong­est of the al­bum’s three sin­gles, with the trio han­dling Phar­rell’s pro­duc­tion in mas­ter­ful fash­ion. Some neat sam­pling turns the Fes­ti­vals’ whole­some “You’ve Got the Mak­ings of a Lover” into the base of “BBO (Bad Bitches Only),” while some iconic chants from the Wail­ers are stealth­ily slipped into “Crown the Kings.” Not un­like how they re-pop­u­lar­ized that now-ubiq­ui­tous flow, we may have Mi­gos to credit for the re­turn of rap al­bums that run on the un­nec­es­sar­ily lengthy side. (Qual­ity Con­trol/Capi­tol) ELEC­TRONIC

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