5 Things We Learned From Migos' 'Culture' Lecture At NYU
After inspiring viral memes and Dubsmash videos with their Billboard Hot 100-topping hit "Bad and Boujee," Migos took their talents from the trap to the classroom on Saturday (Jan. 28) to host a special course, the “Culture Class” at prestigious New York University.
In partnership with the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, the lecture dissected the rap trio's influence on fashion, music, and pop culture.
During the intimate sit-down, Migos' Quavo and Takeoff (Offset was absent) spoke candidly about their humble upbringing in North Atlanta, and how they were able to catapult from a local act to a chart-topping success story. The duo also revealed plenty from their daily self-care routine and fashion tips, as well as their desire to collaborate with Lady Gaga. And, yes they expressed interest in sharing performance time with the pop singer during the Super Bowl.
Here are five nuggets on life, identity, and honing your craft from Migos:
Migos "tried to be something we're not" with 2015's Yung Rich Nation
Despite the group's booming 2017 success, their full-length debut 2015's Yung Rich Nation seemingly fell on deaf ears. Following a two-year run of successful mixtapes, the studio effort was decently received by critics and fans but only sold 15,000 copies in its first week, which could have been due to any of several setbacks. Charismatic frontman Quavo offered his theory: "Our first album didn’t work because we tried to be something we’re not," he candidly admitted. "We took our L and it hurt. But, we came back to the drawing board, dropped Culture, and it worked."
Migos were hands-on with "T-Shirt" video & Culture album
The DIY approach remains a key element to the Migos’ unwavering influence on pop culture. From engineering entire projects to helming the group's music videos, Quavo understands the value in being very hands-on. Stepping into the director’s chair for the trio’s latest visual “T-Shirt,” the 25-year-old brought “the trap to the wilderness.”
Noted for its lavish fashion statements, the video received praise from Chance The Rapper, who called Quavo’s cinematography “Oscar worthy.” Quavo credits his vision for the video’s viral success. "When you do it yourself, you feel better," he said. "I mixed and mastered the whole [Culture] album, and now it’s topping the charts."
Migos built a team while on the come-up
From their humble beginnings in Gwinnett County, Migos took the rap game by storm with their catchy triplet flows and crisp production. Their cultural omnipresence, however, didn’t just occur overnight. Through consistent networking at local nightclubs and relationships formed with hometown DJs, the trio built a Rolodex of contacts, and eventually a supportive team. “You have to take over your town in order to take over your city,” Quavo said. “You can’t be a bad person.”
It "starts with the ladies" for Migos
While hip-hop is often criticized for its degradation of women, the trio’s number one single “Bad and Boujee” is an ode to the Hilary Bankses and Whitley Gilberts of the world. From Instagram captions to merch, the term has catapulted into a movement. "Girls always make our music go," Quavo told audience members. "They set the trends. It starts with the ladies."
Takeoff also described their creative process in even simpler terms: "We don't really write. We listen to the beat and lay down whatever we got."
Migos preaches unity for the youth
As Millennials, Migos understand the power Generation Y possesses to impact the today's culture, from branding phrases like “dat way” and “nawf” to helping popularize the Dab dance. For Quavo, it's an ability shared by all youth. "I feel like the young people are controlling the generation," he said. "We’re the ones who help the word turn. If we stay together, we’ll be real powerful."