Last Friday (June 11), Migos closed the doors on their epic Culture trilogy with the series’ third and final installment. Stacked with a roster of rap superstars including Drake, Cardi B, Future, Juice WRLD and Pop Smoke, the Atlanta trio gracefully placed a bow on their five-year-long run with tuneful anthems and gutsy performances.
“It’s a chapter that needs to be closed, but the right way,” Takeoff told Billboard last week over Skype. “You got Culture I, Culture II, and Culture III, and this is a great number to end off on.”
Though Migos kicked off their legacy in 2013 with instant club starters like “Versace,” “Fight Night,” and “Handsome and Wealthy,” it was their 2016 release of “Bad and Boujee” with a budding Lil Uzi Vert that shot the rap group into national superstardom. The track rocketed to No. 1 on the Hot 100 and allowed the group to graduate into trap superstars on the mainstream circuit. Following the success of “Bad and Boujee,” Migos scored two more top 40 songs on the Hot 100 with “T-Shirt” and the Gucci Mane-assisted “Slippery,” before securing their first Billboard 200 No. 1 album with Culture.
The following year, they upped the ante and clocked in three more top ten records on the Hot 100, with “Motorsport” leading the pack. Bolstered by the presence of rap heavyweights Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, Migos’ scorching single raced to triple-platinum status. Then, they whipped up a spicy collaboration with the Pharrell-produced record “Stir Fry” before tag-teaming with Drake on “Walk It, Talk It.” The records peaked at No. 8 and 10, respectively, on the Hot 100. Culture II was a commercial success and gave the trio their second consecutive No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
After a three-year layoff, which included solo projects by each group member, Migos reunited for the closing chapter of their revered series. “We applying pressure, man,” relayed Offset. “We got a chip on our shoulder. We ain’t dropped in three years. It’s crunch time and not no time to play games.”
Billboard and Migos took a look back at the ten essential tracks that defined the Culture series and what made each record special.
1. “Bad & Boujee” (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)
Offset: The timing of the record [was perfect]. It was that vibe the world had needed. It was just perfect timing and we had just come out of the “Look At My Dab” phase, and we transferred it over to Culture I. It was another level-up on the music and the sound.
Quavo: “17-five, same color t-shirt!” Rest in peace, Shawty Lo. Long live, Lo. He most definitely inspired that record and we felt good about it.
3. “Slippery” (feat. Gucci Mane)
Quavo: [Gucci’s] one of our big brothers. Every time we get in the studio, we do s–t crazy. It’s just a moment and always setting the tone and the bar higher.
Takeoff: That’s family!
One word to describe Culture: Masterpiece
4. “Motorsport” (feat. Nicki Minaj & Cardi B)
Quavo: We had great women on the song for the first time together in history. Then you got the greatest group in the world, and everyone was rapping their best on the record. You can’t discredit that moment. That song right there changed our lives and careers, because everyone had such a special role in the song.
5. “Stir Fry”
Offset: Being in the lab with that boy [Pharrell] is just always magical, man. We always looked up to Skateboard P. On our side, beat side and drip side — just everything. Then when you get in the room with him, he’s so down to earth and such a player with you. It’s just magical, and he just played that beat and we went right in at the same time. No beat was sent. It was a smash and he told us it was a smash.
Takeoff: He a legend, man. He know how to put them records together. He sees the vision and put it in the right place and in the pocket it needed to be put in.
6. “Walk It Talk It” (feat. Drake)
Takeoff: You got to walk it like you talk it, man.
Offset: [Drake’s] our brother, so we always lock in and make smashes. Since we came in, we been making smashes with The Boy. It was only right we tied in.
Quavo: Anything we got going on, we jumping on each other’s records.
Takeoff: Since we came in the game, he did what he did and showed respect to us. He even had a debate with people saying Migos are the hottest thing coming up, and we saw that it was genuine and we locked in. He didn’t have to say that.
One word to describe Culture II: Graduation
Takeoff: They caught amnesia for a minute, so we had to get some straightenin. There was an issue and we had to get some understanding.
Quavo: That chip on my shoulder, I just dipped it into some BBQ sauce. I ate it.
Takeoff: That chip on your shoulder make you go harder to set the bar. It keeps you setting different bars and it makes you harder. That should do what it do. We gon’ prevail and show up every time.
Offset: That was such a beautiful performance to show the uniqueness, spark, and drip. That was with the live band and vocals lined up. We just went grown man and suits and pulled up with that ’50s Rolls-Royce. That was for the culture and gave back that Temptations-Migos vibe to cross both worlds.
9. “Anti Social” (feat. Juice WRLD)
Takeoff: Long live Juice WRLD. My boy Murda [Beatz] hit me up and told me, “Yo Takeoff, I need you on something.” He sent it my way and I did what I did on it. Then I sent it to the gang. Actually, before Juice passed, he called me and I had talked to him on the phone after I did the verse. He told me the song was it and he liked it. He was a nice person, though, and a good dude.
10. “Light It Up” (feat. Pop Smoke)
Quavo: Pop Smoke, man. We make good music together, and the chemistry is just undeniable. Every time we got on the drill beat, it’s just different. We got more songs in store, because we kind of like was about to make a project. So we gon’ take them leftovers and hold them, and see what we going to do with them.