Even during their earlier years on the mixtape circuit, runtime has been an issue for most Migos releases. 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 stands as the greatest offender, at over an hour-and-a-half. It was only a calendar year ago that their sophomore LP, C U L T U R E, was celebrated for its pared-down approach, producing multiple hits while trimming the fat.
Upon the arrival of the massive 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. Having more songs available to stream results in more royalties, though it doesn't equate to a flawless full-length.
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 mic. 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 come the end. 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 the 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. It was only days after Culture II's arrival that Rae Sremmurd unflinchingly announced plans for a three-disc release; they should hope listeners are up to the task.
Order Culture II on triple red vinyl via Umusic. (Quality Control)