Review Summary: Young, rich and frustratingly inconsistent.
Since the summer of 2013, there's been no bigger name in trap rap than Atlanta-based trio Migos. They've dropped three hugely successful mixtapes in Y.R.N (Young Rich Niggas), No Label II and Rich Nigga Timeline, which spawned a parade of viral smash hits including "Versace", "Hannah Montana" and "Fight Night". The group was able to parlay their online success into a major label deal with 300 Entertainment, whose roster features a number of other heavily hyped young rappers including Fetty Wap, Young Thug and Kirko Bangz. Migos' quick rise through the ranks seems to have somewhat gotten to their heads as their debut LP, Yung Rich Nation, is their most scattered, inconsistent release to-date.
Yung Rich Nation gets off to a thoroughly underwhelming start. Every single one of Migos' mixtapes came out of the gate strong with 5-6 consecutive bangers that had insane rep. Here, they start off with a stretch of songs where they do nothing but pat themselves on the back for being successful. "Spray the Champagne", "Street Nigga Sacrifice" and the saddest of the bunch, "Memoirs"-which is more of a three-minute nostalgic rant than an actual song- are hollow, joyless tracks. The rapping from Quavo, Takeoff and Offset may be competent on all of these tracks, but they all lack the distinct personality and over-the-top insanity Migos have become known for since Young Rich Niggas. While the uninspired, shallow subject matter is a bit of a turn-off, the weak production and hooks are much more problematic. Aside from the Zaytoven-produced "Migos Origin", the beats are really stagnant-which is especially surprising since the typically great Honorable C Note handled most of the production on this stretch of the record- and the hooks fall incredibly flat. It's honestly kind of mind-blowing to see a group that has put out some of the most high-octane, ridiculously fun tracks in recent memory make a prolonged stretch of music that is so lifeless and forgettable.
Thankfully, Migos reinvigorates the listener on the second half of the album by bringing back the energy and zaniness that drove their mixtapes. "Pipe It Up", "Cocaina", "Trap Funk" and "What A Feeling" are vintage Migos jams that are on par with most of the highlights from their recent mixtapes. All three members drop fiery verses with clever references galore, the production is spectacular and the hooks are completely infectious. Migos can pull off different styles from time to time (the radio-friendly "Just for Tonight" and minimalist piano-driven anti-love song "Playa Playa" are both really solid), but there's no denying that Migos finest moments involve them rapping about selling drugs and making bird sounds behind a sea of 808's and hi-hats.
While Yung Rich Nation is far from a disaster, it's an undeniably disappointing effort for Migos. They are unsurprisingly great when they stick to their trap roots, but when they leave the safety of their well-established sound, the results are erratic as hell. They possess the talent to make a more accessible record that's as good as their straight trap mixtapes, they just can't abandon the charm and consistency that made those tapes so great in the process. Regardless of whether or not Migos go back to their exclusively trap sound or decide to further explore other styles of hip-hop, their next chapter is going to be a very interesting one to watch.