Fri Jun 10
How did Migos become the biggest group in the world, with almost 30 billion streams and 68 billion YouTube views? Migos and their Culture series stand tall in the pantheon of hip-hop greatness: with massive critical acclaim, 47 award nominations, and the first rap group to tie the Beatles for most simultaneous Hot 100 entries (after the Fab Four clutched the record solo for 54 years), Migos have permanently changed culture. Here’s how.
Out the Bando (The 2000s)
Living on the Northside of Atlanta (that way), Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset trapped out of an abandoned house (bando) as teens. Aspiring rappers since grade school, they funneled the cash they made into recording, soon switching up the hustle to make music as Migos. “We were tired of being in the streets,” Takeoff told XXL. “We had to turn street money into legit money.”
From the Club to the Pop Charts (2011 – 2013)
The trio gained fans at home through local clubs, getting DJs to play songs from their early mixtapes. When “Bando” became a regional hit, Migos got on the radar of renowned Atlanta producer Zaytoven, as well as Quality Control co-founders Coach K and P. In 2013, they became QC’s first artist, the foundation of a locally grown and now globally respected label.
Migos’ debut QC mixtape, Young Rich N*ggas (Y.R.N.), reimagined trap music for a generation. Their energetic street music popularized their trademark triplet flow and animated ad-libs. Songs like “Hannah Montana” and the Zaytoven-produced “Versace” (#99 on the Billboard Hot 100) found a vast audience, helped along by Migos’ charisma and countless pop culture references. Drake quickly expressed his appreciation of their music and hopped on a “Versace” remix.
“Versace” on the Runway (2013)
Migos bridged the gap between hip-hop and high fashion. “Versace” was so popular it caught the attention of its luxury designer namesake. During the finale of Versace’s Milan Fashion Week show, models strutted the runway as Migos’ own “Versace” played out the speakers.
The Migos Flow (2014)
One of the most prolific groups in rap history, Migos released 10 mixtapes in less than two years following Y.R.N., including one with Atlanta legend Gucci Mane. 2014’s No Label 2 included the charting “Handsome and Wealthy” and the Gold single “Fight Night”—two of many Migos songs that led critics, fans, and other MCs to become obsessed with the “Migos Flow,” the rapid and catchy cadence the group often deployed. “When you turn on the radio, what are you going to hear? The Migos flow,” Quavo told XXL. “From the biggest to the smallest artist—they all use it.” The style became so popular that Complex called Quavo the most influential rapper of 2014.
Yung Rich Nation (2015)
Migos released their debut album, Yung Rich Nation, to universal success. Critically acclaimed by outlets like Pitchfork, the LP also debuted at #17 on the US Billboard 200 and affirmed that the trio were serious artists on the verge of taking Atlanta trap music global. Album single “One Time” became a club anthem, charting at #34 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
A Dab [of Ranch] (2016)
In 2016, months after their mixtape Back to the Bando dropped, Migos became the driving force behind the viral “dab” dance move. It began as a slang term they used for their determination to stay dripped in designer fashion and was committed to record on “Look at My Dab,” which only fueled the dance craze. The song quickly charted on the Billboard Hot 100, while everyone from star NFL quarterback Cam Newton to Hilary Clinton began doing the dab. It became so popular that Rap Snacks gave the group their own potato chip, “Sour Cream with a Dab of Ranch.”
The Next Beatles (2017)
In January, Atlanta creator Donald Glover shouted out Migos and their then-rising single, “Bad & Boujee,” in his Golden Globes acceptance speech. Later backstage, Glover compared them to The Beatles. He probably didn’t know that his words would turn out to be prophetic.
The Culture Trilogy Takeover Begins (2017)
With the first volume of Culture (2017), Migos took their rightful seat atop the throne in rap and pop culture. Their first number one album on the Billboard 200, Culture spent 107 weeks on the chart. It also topped US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, was certified platinum, and nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album (Culture) and Best Rap Performance for “Bad and Boujee.”
That single spent 36 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was certified 4x platinum less than a year after its release. The DAPS-directed music video now has over 1 billion views on YouTube. Culture’s second single, “T-Shirt,” went 2x platinum and was accompanied by an equally iconic and cinematic music video wherein Migos play fur trappers while riding snowmobiles through the woods. No matter how cold the environment, Migos continued to burn up the charts.
Individual Achievements (2017 – 2018)
Even amid their collective success, each Migo confirmed he was as talented with the group as he was alone.
In October 2018, Quavo released his album, Quavo Huncho, Offset followed with Father of 4, and Takeoff rounded it out with his album The Last Rocket. Each Migo accompanied their album with a late-night television performance.
Culture II and Tying The Beatles (2018)
Back in 2015, Complex joked about Migos being better than the Beatles. In 2018, Migos defied all counterarguments with Culture II. With 14 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, they accomplished a feat previously only achieved by the Fab Four over half a century earlier. Migos’ hits included the triple-platinum “MotorSport” with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, the double- platinum Pharrell-produced “Stir Fry,” and the double-platinum Drake-featuring “Walk It Talk It.”
All-Around MVPs (2018)
Less than a month after Culture II, Quavo bagged another milestone: NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP. With 19 points and five rebounds, he led a team with Jamie Foxx and Arcade Fire’s Win Butler to victory. That coincided with Migos blessing soundtracks for Madden and NBA 2K. And after unforgettable appearances on Ellen, Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show, they joined James Corden for “Carpool Karaoke,” running through hits and bringing their undeniable energy and ad-libs to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” Every appearance confirmed their stature, and ubiquity, in pop culture.
From 2017 onward—the moment they broke through with the original Culture, essentially—Migos took home Best Group at the BET Awards every year, four years in a row. By the dawn of 2021, they had covered The FADER, Respect Mag, Billboard, XXL, Wonderland, XXL again, Complex, Rolling Stone, NME, The Source, and HIGHstyle, among others. With over a dozen gold and platinum singles, two multi-platinum albums, and hundreds of songs behind them, Migos stepped away to regroup and prepare the final installment of their Culture trilogy. Culture III will remind everyone that Migos are the greatest rap group of the modern era and, and they are here to shift the culture once again.