With lots of money comes lots of ways to spend it. Culture II is a long-awaited follow up from Migos, Atlanta’s current resident trap superstars, if you consider a year a very long time (it is!) and also a long follow up if you consider an hour and forty minutes a sizable amount of time (it’s basically ten minutes shorter than, uh, Blade Runner). This is a manner of gaming the charts in the Spotfiy age, invented by Drake in his indie-movie length Views in 2016 and made a banal industry practice by Chris Brown on last October’s Apocalypse Now-length Heartbreak on a Full Moon.
In addition to a who’s who of trap-leaning hiphop (from Gucci Mane and Drake to Post Malone and Cardi B), money also buys you superstars behind the decks and everyone from Metro Boomin to Pharrell dump some of their latest beats on this year’s first hip hop event. An early highlight, however, comes from no one less than Kanye West, who emerges from his year-long semi-silence to deliver some classic blaxplotation-soundtrack horns on “BBO (Bad Bitches Only),” a track that also features 21 Savage delivering some guest verses. For some, Kanye’s production (who has a songwriting credit and shares production credits with Buddah Bless, DJ Durel and Quavo) recalls his work with Jay-Z on 2001’s The Blueprint, a pre-9/11, pre-gentrification version of an east coast not yet saturated with designer jeans. Instead, the sunbeat prowl accompanies 21 Savage, who uses the track to announce his intention to both connect with some of the titular bad bitches and also not “see you when I wake up in the morning.” Kanye’s work, however, minimalizes the rapped hedonism (Quavo’s tennis chains, 21s’ light-house of bling) wafting some campy old school funk into the proceedings. Having all that bling almost sounds fun.