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Review: Migos' Young Rich Nation is a safe, but satisfying major label debut

The Migos Flow remains intact on the mixtape heroes' first official album

Atlantic

Migos, Migos, Migos. The triumvirate of trap. The rap triplets powered by ad libs and lean. Whatever you may think about the rambunctious rappers from Atlanta, Migos have certainly placed their stamp on the rap game. Takeoff, Quavo, and Offset have influenced countless rappers with the "Migos Flow." Everyone from Drake, to Kanye West, to Rick Ross have emulated their cadence, quickly making the familial group with a flurry of mixtapes and no official album one of the most important acts in hip-hop.

Unabashedly more concerned with rhythm than rhymes, Migos have grown into a movement (Migos > Beatles is the most insane fight on the internet) and deservedly so. After blessing us with infectious club bangers like "Hannah Montana" and "Versace" and street / internet anthems like "Bando" and "Fight Night," Migos are back with their debut album, Yung Rich Nation, and while not much has changed, their sound is still as infectious as ever.

After going on a two-year run of successful mixtapes, most rap acts shoot for the stars when it comes time for their major label debut albums, and often end up falling short. But Migos have exercised an admirable level of restraint on Yung Rich Nation, sticking with familiar producers like Zaytoven and Honorable C.N.O.T.E. to craft those twitch trap beats, and keeping the features to a minimum (Chris Brown and Young Thug show up on two songs). "Memoirs" opens the album with suspenseful keys laid over soaring synths as Migos takes us on a trip down memory lane ("Remember the time they shot up my mama house / 12 tried to make it my fault").

Migos have avoided stepping out of their comfort zone

It's clear that Migos actively avoided stepping out of their comfort zone on Yung Rich Nation, and that's not a complaint. The album is more of the same Migos sound fans already love, now offered to a broader audience. Even the slight stylistic departure of "Highway 85," a more or less straightforward homage to Eazy-E's "Boyz-n-the-Hood," doesn't veer too far into uncharted territory. But the variation works surprisingly well, thanks to C.N.O.T.E.'s leery beat and Migos' surprisingly agile storytelling abilities. ("Mirror mirror on the wall / what would you do if police told you pull over your car? / Mirror, when do you picture the Migos falling off? / The mirror said you stupid boy, don't ask that question at all").

Migos' current smash single is "One Time" and it's a lesson in ad libbing, in which the Migos have no equal. It's a classic Migos exercise — have a good time and keep the complex lyrics to a minimum. Yung Rich Nation is absent of filler — every one of the 15 tracks deserves a spot on the album, a rarity in today's single-dominated landscape. The most addictive track on the album is "Cocaina," produced by Zaytoven and featuring fellow new-generation ATLien Young Thug — it's a lethal combination of Migos flow drug talk and Young Thug's woozy delivery.

Yung Rich Nation feels like the culmination of Migos Phase One. The eight mixtapes released by the group have led to an album that puts Migos' full array of talents on display. Their wavy hooks, addictive choruses, and undeniable ear for hits makes Migos the most compelling rap group around. At this point, Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset have earned the respect of their peers, the clubs, and the internet. Now we'll find out if they can parlay those early triumphs into mainstream success and build that Yung Rich Nation.