Why are the 'Migos' Considered Rappers?
Last week, I went to a Migos concert, and it was horrible.
In fairness to me, it was an ‘Aubrey and the Three Amigos’ concert, Aubrey referring to Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham and the ‘Three Amigos’ referring to, well, you know. It was a 7PM show, and we intentionally arrived late, making it to our seats at 8PM, hoping that we wouldn’t see Migos, but alas, we were still too early. With nowhere else to go, we dejectedly resigned ourselves to our fate.
To start, the Migos emerged from their breeding ground in monochrome suits of red, green, and yellow, looking like a weirdly disembodied traffic light. For all I knew, they might not have even been the Migos (who, until that point, I had thought was one person), they could well have been some random black guys with dreadlocks in a ponytail. They scampered around the stage like well-dressed tarantulas in a desperate footrace, belching out single syllables at an obnoxiously-emphasized staccato pace. The crowd had the most energy when the 'slow down' yellow Migo (what do we call only one of them?) hummed an elongated 'skrt skrt', which was confusing because none of their garments resembled anything close to a skirt skirt. The longer I stared, the more it felt like a scene from 'Planet of the Apes' (#noracism), where an offhand comment from leader Caesar provokes a full-throated, hands-in-the-air response from his army. Five songs in (I'm guessing it was five, it was difficult to discern where one screech ended and the next one began) I plugged my fingers in my ears, realizing in that moment that the Migos might be the best concert experience for a deaf person. You don't even need a sign-language interpreter! Mac Miller might have passed away earlier that day, but that stadium was truly where music took its last breath.
When Drake mercifully came out to perform, I was almost shocked when I heard coherent human speech for the first time in what felt like hours. Just when I thought I was rid of them, Drake invited them back on for a song they apparently had together, and then let them perform a few more hits (to my head) of their own. At that point, I was still convinced that the Migos were still one person moving back and forth very fast (their outfits having varied in color because of the resulting redshift), because what was the point of having three of them? It would be like if Daft Punk were five people – sure I guess there can be more, but why? My headache had started to pound in coordination with the beat. The entire experience might as well have been sponsored by Dick Cheney, falling somewhere between static feedback and fucked-up noise.
As these thoughts passed through my head, I could feel myself turning into the crusty gatekeeper of what should be considered 'real' music – a douchey purist of sorts – so I decided to give them a fair chance. Maybe they were just having an off day. Maybe two of them had a fight over which color they should wear and they were beefing onstage because of it. Maybe the sound system was bad and I was the only one who realized it. Whatever the case was, I dove into their musical catalog, which mainly consists of their breakthrough album Culture and the uninventive Culture 2. Some halfassed research revealed that they spent 45 minutes making each song on the latter, something which was probably meant as a boast (genius doesn't take that long) but came off as overly truthful (the lack of effort is pretty obvious). I'm far from a songwriter or a recording artist, but that seems like an obscenely short amount of time to create a song (at that rate, a 12-track album would take 16 hours, meaning you could release two albums every workweek).
The one redeeming track, Stir Fry, is only listen-able because Pharrell produced the song, and even he couldn't save it from the illogical but hauntingly beautiful hook "in the kitchen wrist twistin' like it's stir fry". Putting aside the fact that such a culinary technique would not be conducive to making stir-fry, it's a bland example of the formulaic nature of the Migos' entire discography. Find a one-liner to repeat until the words no longer make sense ("Hannah Montana", "hit it with the left, hit it with the right", "get right witcha", "versace versace versace"), and surround that one liner with music too loud for anyone to really hear what's being said. They (literally) put out the same songs over and over, to the point where you can play an SNL parody that's passes as a convincing (and probably musically sounder) fake.
To the less sophisticated purveyor of sound, you might think that the Migos represent hip-hop. They are something else entirely, something called 'trap', which sounds very much like rap but isn't quite there (in that sense, a fitting name). This is both good and bad – good because it makes it easy to understand why I don't like it (in the same way I don't like country music, but I can appreciate that it's something different that appeals to a different group of people), but bad because most wouldn't treat that distinction with the same nuance. Rap is already a niche enough type of music at a time when the fringe elements of most genres are actively drifting towards pop, and if someone's first exposure to 'rap' is the Migos, it's easy to understand the ensuing distaste.
They're not alone in their genre, but they are on their own island when it comes to incompetence. You can still appreciate someone like Future, who has an above-average flow and a voice that matches the moody production on his songs (barring the infamous and for some reason thirsty 'la di da di da'), and is good for what he is. You can listen to a song like Apeshit by Beyoncé and Jay-Z featuring Quavo and Offset and appreciate how flawlessly Beyoncé fills elevates the spot of the third Migo (whatever his dumb name is) with actual talent. That record exposes the Migos' rightful place in this world: as (uncredited) backup singers.
You'd think that given their newfound mainstream success, they'd find a way to improve, or diversify even slightly. But the Migos operate in a world without things like Rhymezone.com, where they impress themselves by rhyming things like 'go' and 'flow', or (more relevantly to their subject matter) 'kitty' and 'titty'. Now it's okay to not really care about things like lyrical content (or any rhyming scheme other than triplet), but there's a genre for that too – it's called electronic music! If no one can understand what you're saying, do you even serve a purpose? If a tree falls in a forest where the Migos are camping, would they use that noise in their next song? If you can superimpose a Stephen Hawking lecture over a Migos beat and achieve the same level of 'lit', does it make sense to just take all the vocals off entirely?
Leave rap the fuck alone.