Can Migos deliver, despite delays and legal woes?
Despite Migos' Yung Rich Nation being the Atlanta rap trio's debut studio album, they're hardly rookies. A plethora of acclaimed mixtapes, BET Award Nominations and superstar collaborations are under their belt. And so for emcees Quavo, Offeset and Takeoff, their first album has epectations other first timers might.
It's not just their meteoric rise to success with bangers like "Fight Night" and "Versace" that set the bar of judgement for Migos' Yung Rich Nation particularly high, it's the wait. After a well-covered run-in with the law, the trio was put behind bars and are still facing charges to this day (Offset is still locked up, denied bonds). Inciting a cancelled tour, delays, and remodeling of their debut LP, suddenly Migos had something to prove. How will they make their mark after fellow Atlanteans like Young Thug and Future were cementing their legends as additional diamonds in the Dirty South crown with their respective Barter 6 and Dirty Sprite 2 mixtape/album releases?
Migos responded emphatically, with one of the more well-rounded records to get turnt to all year. While the trio isn't breaking any ground on Yung Rich Nation-- both in juxtaposition against 2015's denser releases like To Pimp a Butterfly or B4DA$$ (it's not like you're looking to compare them anyways) and compared to favorite mixtape releases like No Label 1 & 2-- they do make a case for a longer shelf life after being marked by many for failure following their incarceration. Fans, casual and rabid alike, will be treated to the expected ad-lib addled anthems of luxurious thuggery, like "One Time" (the first single off of the record, released back in February) and the insistent "Pipe it Up." Casual fans, though, might get turned into die-hards with efforts like "Gangsta Rap" and "Highway 85," which both have that sort of go-hard haunting to it that makes them feel like they could be from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's prime. Each of them hyptonize with similar sirening sounds and arguably sport the best beats of the album.
Migos' apparent expertise to string together earworms for songs is on full display here. Maybe none of the aforementioned tracks feel like obvious heir apparents to smash singles like "Hannah Montana," but their replay value are still undeniable. Try driving to "Highway 85" and not making your car vibrate like an iPhone out of sheer bass and volume. "Just for Tonight" (which features Chris Brown on the hook) is another one that should have radio play on lock, even by the time until winter rears its icy head.
With few whiffs (we could definitely do without more erroneous efforts like "Playa Playa"), Yung Rich Nation's only made better by its small team of beatmakers. Murda Beatz and Honorable C.N.O.T.E. have the most real estate, but Murda Beatz winds up stealing the show, delivering wholly separate beats for the two tracks with guest stars (high profile ones at that). "Just for Tonight" has true pop value for Breezy's featured role, and Young Thug's cameo "Cocaina" has the spiraling trap feel necessary to motivate all nighters. It's got a higher energy level than a lot of Thugger's songs, and thus is a welcome addition into his lexicon while we wait for the also delayed HiTunes.
The album closes with a certifiable victory lap. Fittingly, the last three tracks of Yung Rich Nation are what solidifies the sticking power of the rap trio. "Trap Funk," "What a Feeling" and "Recognition" each puff out their chest with bravado. "Trap Funk" brings out boisterous horns that kick verses into the next gear and applies kung-fu keys for the chorus-- a refreshing use of the instrument on an album that samples it heavily. "What a Feeling" celebrates success, but keeps its eyes looking over its shoulder with a beat that looms with danger. "Recognition" serves as the sole serious turn on Yung Rich Nation, a humbling conclusion to an album with an otherwise champagne flavor.
Yung Rich Nation allows Migos to separate themselves from fellow trap bretheren as well as other rap acts in their lane. Although Migos were sidelined momentarily, due to legal trouble that leave the future of members in doubt, they can rest comfortably knowing that they have silenced doubt as it pertains to their musicianship.