Streaming Culture, Platinum Hits, and The Art of the Tracklist

895c52591bf983ebe6e8821f23e4642e.999x999x1.jpg

Full disclaimer: this article was initially written in early 2018. While it sat as a draft for nearly one year, I recently revisited it and felt like the sentiment is still relevant and worth sharing. Please excuse how firmly-rooted in 2018 this is. 

Let me get one thing out of the way at the top: defending Migos is not the hill I want to die on. Don’t get me wrong, the Atlanta rap trio has brought me incalculable joy throughout the years (along with love for the adlib), but I’m not sure I can defend the artistic integrity of anyone that talks about Pateks this much

When Migos dropped their long-awaited sequel to Culture in early 2018 the release was met with… mixed reception. Typically churning out anywhere from two to six mixtapes per year, Culture II felt like an anomaly for the Atlanta natives in that fans had to wait a full year between releases for new music. While various features and a collab album between Offset, 21 Savage, and Metro Boomin helped to tide listeners over, the one-year wait for Culture II had fans anticipating the group’s next moves like never before. 

After the landmark “Bad and Boujee,” Migos had finally achieved the mainstream success that longtime fans always knew they were capable of. As most people saw it, the problem with Culture II wasn’t that the songs didn’t stack up, or that the group waited too long to release it, but rather that it was too damn long

Comprised of 24 tracks that collectively clock in at one hour and 45 minutes, many fans found the release a slog to get through, especially in contrast to the original album’s much more traditional 13 track running time. 

In addition to fan outcry, select publications also called out the group, accusing them of gaming the streaming system for sales, and even going as far as to call the release a data dump. While these are valid criticisms, Culture II is merely the symptom of a long-emerging trend. Ever since Drake discovered that ten songs equal an album sale, it’s been a race to the bottom. This album-loading strategy worked for Drake on Views, but he failed to recreate this success on More Life which (despite being longer) was quickly eclipsed by Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. 

Since then every artist from Lil Yachty to Post Malone has seemed happy to embrace this album-packing approach by dropping 20-plus-songs at once. As a result, they boost their streaming numbers while simultaneously overwhelming radio stations, playlists, and digital airwaves with a glut of new music… and you know what? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

While there are obviously some outliers like Chris Brown (who blatantly asked fans to fudge his streaming numbers), these rappers are entirely within their right to unleash a deluge of music if they want to. Any artist should be free to release whatever they want, but one thing you’ll notice about this streaming scandal is that it’s primarily hip-hop acts who are carrying it out. 

Fans were mad that Culture II wasn’t as concise as its predecessor, yet from my point of view, the songs are of the exact same quality. There was no significant change in sound, lyrical content, or musical approach. The only thing that really changed was the number of songs the group delivered at once. 

On top of the sheer size of Culture II, most people preferred its predecessor because they’d been able to enjoy it for a year. They knew the choruses and had a year’s worth of nostalgia built into those 13 tracks. Removing myself of all those feelings, Culture II is a nearly-identical album that simply gave us twice as many songs. 

Setting aside the fact that they used to release multiple mixtapes a year (each of which would range anywhere from five to twenty-seven songs) Culture II was dinged primarily because it was viewed as oversaturation, especially when compared to the first. 

Now there’s something to be said for a concise album, but that’s not what I’m arguing. Migos should be able to release any number of songs they want because they can

Do you know why albums are usually under an hour? Because they used to be printed. On physical media. With restrictions. The whole concept of an “album side” was practically dead until vinyl’s resurgence in the mid-2010s, why should we expect any modern group to be beholden to this archaic structure? Why should that be a factor or an expectation for anyone releasing music in the streaming age? Sure, that was the standard for a long time, but there’s no reason for that in 2018. If Migos want to release 100 songs on Spotify tomorrow they can, and there’s something awesome about that. 

Conversely, we saw half a dozen albums from the G.O.O.D. Music camp throughout the summer, each of which weighs in at seven tracks and under half an hour. There’s no real precedent for that, but I think it’s incredible that if an artist wants to release art in this EP/album hybrid then they’re free to. Migos shouldn’t be condemned for releasing a 2-hour album, because they could be pioneers. 

This running time could be the new hip-hop standard for all we know, and the only thing that’s made that possible is the ubiquity of products like Spotify and Apple Music. I’m not even arguing the quality of Culture II (because it’s mostly by-the-numbers), but it’s nowhere near as bad as some fans and critics seem to think it is.

There are certainly more artistic ways to “frame” a long-form release like Rae Sremmurd’s triple album or Drake’s half hip-hop/half RnB release, but at the end of the day, those are only small distinctions.

When I read criticism of Culture II, I feel like people are expecting more from Migos than they really should. These are three dudes from Atlanta who got famous for rapping about the same thing for ten years. They are personable, pick good beats, pull solid features, and have an uncanny influence on pop culture…. but album-crafting artisans they are not. Migos make great trap music, but their efforts are far from high art. 

Most people listening to this album will be putting it on in the background of a party, letting it play, and not thinking twice of it. Nobody expected Culture II to make some grand artistic statement, so why should the release be judged on those merits? Migos make music for clubs, for dancing, for driving, and for partying. If they give you two hours of competently-made party music at once, it should have no impact on the enjoyment of your party nor the group itself. 

In the end, this discussion doesn’t matter because people will stream this album, it will be successful, and the group will continue to release more music. These songs will be played at parties and rack up millions of plays on every hip-hop station. Expecting Migos to follow traditional running times or some arbitrary “artistic” frame is beyond the group’s scope. 

Culture II may be unwieldy, but the songs themselves are of the exact same quality of those that came before. I love short albums as much as the next person, but it’s clear to me that hip-hop can exist in a different format than a 10-track album with a standard running time, and Migos should be celebrated for that. 

Does Offset Own A Patek Philippe? - A Journalistic Investigation

offset-migos-2018_edited.png

It starts off innocently enough: a reference here, a metaphor there, maybe even an allusion or a  simile if things get really extreme. But what happens when an artist becomes so infatuated with consumerism that an individual purchase becomes a recurring theme in their work? We’re about to find out. 

Formed in 2008, most readers will probably be surprised to learn that Atlanta-based trap superstars Migos have been around for over a decade. Comprised of rappers Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset, the group has been releasing a steady stream of mixtapes and albums ever since 2011. While the trio quickly made a name for themselves among hardcore hip-hop heads, they only recently achieved mainstream success thanks to the astronomical popularity of songs like “Bad and Boujee” and “Walk It Talk It.”

Chart-topping songs aside, the group has also proven their strength as a force in pop culture, often credited with popularizing the now-ubiquitous “triplet flow” as well as the (quickly-ruined) dab. While the group’s songs often revolve around the award-winning formula of money, women, jewelry, and drugs, they occasionally do venture into deeper waters... but that’s not what this post is about. 

Following 2017’s immensely-popular Culture, the group dropped a long-awaited sequel earlier this year and after multiple listens an interesting through-line emerged: Offset can’t stop rapping about his Patek Philippe. 

While rap as a whole drops name brands more than any other genre, this level of specificity is unheard of, especially at this frequency. As a bit of a spiritual sequel to 21 Savage’s obsession with food, I’m proud to present: Does Offset Own A Patek Philippe? - A Journalistic Investigation.

We Are The 17%

According to lyrics.com (which is far from comprehensive) there are precisely 180 songs that contain the word “Patek” as of October 2018. At a grand total of 31 references, this means that Offset has cornered roughly 17% of the total Patek-referencing market.

Due to the sheer abundance of Patek name-drops, I’m choosing to focus solely on those contained within the group’s most recent release. For the sake of completeness, I’m going to cite all of Offset’s other Patek references at the end of this article, but for now, let’s jump straight into the madness that is Culture II’s Patek-based hellscape.


“Narcos”

Patek01 - Narcos.png

Culture II’s first Patek Philipe name-drop comes in at track number three. Featuring some of the album’s more visceral Patek language, Offset embraces the slang “water” (an abstraction of ice) to describe his bejeweled timepiece. Through this potent bout of descriptors, Offset explains that his watch is so expensive it’s practically overflowing with excessive adornments. 

 

“Auto Pilot”

Patek02 - Auto Pilot.png

It seems that if Offset happens to own a Patek, it may bear a two-tone design. To fully flesh out this pied timekeeping flex, he draws a direct comparison between the multiple colors of his watch to the multiple colors of women who are throwing themselves at his feet. 

 

“Emoji A Chain”

Much like Ororo Munroe, Offset possesses the ability to change the weather by merely strapping his trusty Patek to his wrist. While (presumably) not literal, this line once again draws back to the water-based well for an elemental flex of wealth and opulence.

 

“Stir Fry”

Patek04 - Stir Fry.png

In one of Culture II’s more illusory lines, Offset utilizes mucus-adjacent slang to illustrate how fancy and tricked-out his Patek is. Either that, or he has run out of Kleenex and we’re meant to read these words at face value. 

 

“White Sand”

In this star-studded mid-album cut, Offset comes in hot with a straightforward boast in which he explicitly states the amount he paid for his Patek Philippe. It seems we have confirmation, folks. 

 

“Beast”

In a moment of gender equality, Offset throws the listener for a loop as he explains how someone else’s Patek made him feel. Perhaps the inciting incident for his own purchase, this lyric offers a glimpse into the rapper’s consumer-friendly mindset while simultaneously acting as a subliminal criticism of capitalism and the dangers of following the crowd.

 

“Motorsport”

Venturing back once more to the “water” slang, Offset elaborates that not only is his Patek adorned with jewels, but his Audemars Piguet as well. Hopefully they’re waterproof, because at this point he’s practically submerged!

 

“Top Down On Da Nawf”

Patek08 - Top Down.png

In Offset’s final Patek namedrop on Culture II, he takes a slightly more pensive approach to the jewelry flex, using it to contrast his current level of wealth with his previous life of crime. This confessional exposition illustrates Offset’s desire, nay, need for luxury. A stark contrast indeed.


In Summary

There you have it. All of Offset’s Patek references contained on Culture II. In addition to these eight references from Migos’ latest album, there are an additional twenty-three references below that come from Offset’s features, collaborations, and other Migos releases. Given the scope, size, and sheer number of Patek references, I think it’s safe to say that Offset owns at least one Patek Philippe.

You can thank me for my service in the comments.

In all seriousness, much like Lil Pump and his grandma, I think this is just a case of a rapper revisiting the same topic because they don’t have a lot to say… and that’s perfectly fine. The Migos have produced music for an entire decade, so it’s not surprising any one of them has said the same thing more than a few times. Additionally, nobody goes to Migos for deep cerebral bars. As long as their songs have a dope beat and clean flow, the lyrics are essentially the least important aspects of their music. 

If anything, this exploration proves that the closer you listen to the words, the more you start to realize how unimportant they really are. What’s impressive is how little this lack of lyrical depth actually detracts from my enjoyment of the music. God knows that discovering this specific quirk has only made me like Offset more if only because I’m now listening for Patek name-drops in every song and feature. Here’s to another decade of explosive success and many more Patek purchases. 


Comprehensive Philippe

1. “Balenciaga Challenge” - 6LACK

  • Got a bust down Patek, a plain bitch (Patek)

2. “Bosses Don't Speak” - Migos

  • Hop in the frog and leap (leap) / Patek Philippe (Patek Philippe)

3. “Call Casting” - Migos

  • Spent you a hundred, Philippe on your wrist (Patek)

4. “Darth Vader” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • I bought the plain Philippe, they said I was being too extra (plain)

5. “Drip” - Cardi B

  • Patek on my wrist, and it's glistenin' (drip, drip)

6. “Do Not Disturb” - Smokepurpp & Murda Beatz

  • For the Patek, I Rollie the watch (for the Patek)

7. “Fucking Up Profits” - Migos

  • Rollie, the AP, the plain Philipe (plain)

8. “Ghostface Killers” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Thot and addy (thot), love the Patek on my arm (Patek)

9. “Hook Up” - Lil Baby, Offset

  • Pateks on fleek, got baguettes in my neck (hey)

10. “Iced Out My Arms” - Dj Khaled

  • This is a hundred Patek, 20 more for Piguet

11. “Interlude” - Lil Yachty & Offset

  • I show my Patek so much, say I'm petty (petty)

12. “Lost it” - Rich The Kid

  • 44 millimeter iced out Philippe (ice)

13. “Major Bag Alert” - DJ Khaled

  • Patek Philippe with the snow in the wind (Patek) (Oh)

14. “No Drama” - Tinashe

  • Got Patek on her wrist, in her panties (Patek, hey)

15. “Peek a Boo” - Lil Yachty

  • Look at my Patek, I'm flexin', I'm petty (I'm petty)

16. “Rap Saved Me”

  • His and her Pateks (his and hers)

17. “Ric Flair Drip” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Bought my first Patek, it got some rain on it (Patek)

18. “Slippery” - Migos

  • I gave her her first Philippe (Philippe)

19. “Still Serving” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Rich bitch, and yeah my bitch got a Patek

20. “Taste” Tyga

  • And she got the Patek on water moccasin (water moccasin)

21. “Violation Freestyle” - Offset

  • Bust down my wrist, bitch I'm Patek'd up (bust up)

22. “Wrist Thunderstorm” - Offset

  • Patek, the diamonds do backflips (woo)

23. “ZEZE” - Kodak Black

  • She an addict (Addict), addict for the lifestyle and the Patek (Patek)

offset.jpg