Bragging fast on two major new album releases in American rap. Polo G claims to earn ‘two thousand a minute’ on ‘Rapstar’, his Billboard number one single – a less bizarre figure than Jeff Bezos’ estimated $ 150,000 a minute, admittedly, but still enough for the Chicago rapper to make more than double the average US earning annual salary in the time it takes to listen to his third album.
Hall of Fame go head to head in the cards with Migos’s Culture III. According to Quavo, one of the group’s three rappers, this latest chapter in the Atlanta trio’s musical franchise will be ‘the biggest album of this year’. During the more than 75 minutes designated, he and his band members Offset and Takeoff declare themselves “bigger than Bill Gates”. Verse portrays them as inventors of a ‘blueprint to shake the whole world’ as Patek wears watches, drives Bentley and hunts. This temporary breakthrough could refer to the blot, the dance fad they claim to have conceived, or the three notes on a beat they use to rap, the so-called “Migos flow”.
Bigger-than-life-bragging is traditionally in hip-hop. But Hall of Fame and Culture III illustrates a new development in rap’s talent for self-augmentation. In both albums, the voices of the various rappers and those of their many famous guests are incessant, a constant stream of words that demands the listener’s attention. The resulting verbal supremacy goes beyond the center of the action. It strives to be the whole of what happens in the songs.
Words, of course, are central to rap, a slang term for speaking. But if the basis of the genre used to be ‘Mostly Tha Voice’, as an old Gang Starr song put it, it’s about the voice now. Landmark albums from the past, such as Jay-Z’s The blueprint of Snoop Dogg’s Doggy style had about 160 words per minute. Drake, rap’s great soloist, walked 140 words per minute on his debut. Thank me later. In contrast, Polo G scans 190 words per minute, while Migos achieves a prolix of 230 words per minute.
The increase is not due to super-fast rapping in the style of Eminem. Instead, it is the result of the selfish spread of song in every part of rap songs. “Always moving at my own pace,” says Polo G in “Broken Guitars,” a track whose tempo and melody are dominated by his chopped verses and semi-sung brackets. Meanwhile, Migos’ songs are an intricate oral tapestry of interlinked voices, ad-libbed expositions, and auto-tuned crowns. “We’re on our way in three ways,” the trio announced on the Drake series “Having Our Way.” The accompaniment music looks like a brooding cinema soundtrack, subordinate to the star rappers in the acoustic spotlight.
Hip-hop vocalism is far more expressive and sophisticated than it used to be. But Hall of Fame and Culture III suffers from a related reduction in music content. They have the same beats and flat song structures. Both face the challenge of filling their extensive language spaces. In this respect, Polo G performs better, alternating a wonderful talk of “the elect” with introspection and impressive storytelling skills. Migos sounds sharper than on the very long, wide breaded Culture II, but they have little to say to themselves beyond ordinary repetitions of wealth and street evidence. Abundant verbal artistry is reports of scanty messages.
‘Hall of Fame‘released by Columbia
‘Culture III‘released by Quality Control Music / Motown Records ★★ ☆☆☆