No. 1 in the country. Nonexistent at Top 40 radio. Welcome to the music industry…
Thomas Inskeep: Between “Black Beatles” and “Bad and Boujee” — the latter of which succeeded the former at #1 in the U.S. this week — this is the new sound of young America, aspirational hip-hop but different than what’s come before it. Metro Boomin and G Koop take their production inspiration from Mike WiLL Made-It, too, with a brilliantly stripped-down track that’s the essence of a head-nodder.
Jonathan Bradley: Rain drop… drop top… can a song without a meme still hit the number one spot? Migos’ snowclone-ready “Bad and Boujee” displaces Rae Sremmurd’s Mannequin Challenge-assisted “Black Beatles” on the Billboard Hot 100 chart top, and I imagine a pop future of endless shares and retweets. Or perhaps memes are how we now appreciate a catchy couplet or well-timed beat drop? It helps that both “Black Beatles” and “Bad and Boujee” are not just well-crafted and replayable pop tunes, they’re culturally distinct evocations of a sound that has retained its geographic roots even as it has come to dominate the industry: Migos bring the pop charts to the black South in a way that still feels scrappy long after mainstream hip-hop’s focus has shifted beyond the corporate-scale opulence of the superstar Rick Ross/Jay Z/Kanye/Drake era. (It reminds me of when Juvenile’s bayou-steady “Slow Motion” topped the chart in 2004, which still feels like somebody made a welcome mistake.) “Bad and Boujee” isn’t as immediate as the best Migos singles like “Versace” or “Fight Night,” but it rolls along entrancingly on a late-night Metro Boomin’ beat that unspools like a suburban Atlanta interstate. Quavo and Offset wander loosely away from its path as they take in “voodoo” and “ratatouille” and “Macy Gray,” then reorienting themselves with the recurrence of their son’s alliterative title and its internet-famous opening couplet. Creeping up on six minutes, “Bad and Boujee” might be too long, but the logical edit would be of Lil Uzi Vert’s unkempt final verse, and for all the concision such a cut would create, sacrificing that moment of structural unsoundness seems as foolhardy as permitting it to stand.
Crystal Leww: “Bad and Boujee” is the last great song of 2016 and the first great song of 2017. Migos have put together a string of strong rap radio hits over the last four years, catapulting to success using the memeable moments (here it’s “raindrop…droptop”) but really putting together just some great rap songs with solid verses, catchy hooks, and brutally effective production. Minus one point for Lil Uzi Vert’s verse, which is as terrible as he’s been roasted on Twitter for.
Will Adams: Metro Boomin’s beat reminds me of a simplified version of “Move That Dope,” all dusky and creeping, and it’s about as effective. Migos more than make up for the subtracted details with their brio alone; sadly, there’s not much to make up for Lil Uzi Vert’s verse.
Alfred Soto: Listening to Rae Sremmurd’s “Real Chill” is good preparation, for Metro Boomin’s sparing use of piano is almost generic. But in verse after verse, perfectly syncopated, the Migos crew delineate a scenario without sacrificing the grunts and wheezes that have become their calling card. These guys are goofballs, rhyming for their own sakes, coming up with dumb images because they can (“cookin’ up dope in the crock pot”). That it’s become a hit in a manner similar to “Black Beatles” astonishes me — and depresses me too. Will hip hop stay off top 40 radio unless it’s a goof?
Maxwell Cavaseno: The end of 2015 had Migos in a relative downward spiral, following a stale debut album and the feeling that their moment had passed them by thanks to a sea of imitators taking a style they cribbed from Gucci Mane and Future (Quavo fans: your hero’s supposed unheralded genius is literally “Karate Chop” divided by the square root of “Bird Flu,” relax!) and running it into the ground. After briefly popularizing the “dab” dance that associates Skippa da Flippa & Jose Guapo made popular in the ATL, our protagonists have been working double-time in revamping their image and re-establishing their sense of cool with underground bangers like “Cocoon” and the individual members going on a rampage of show-stealing guest verses to remind you “Hey! Migos are good!” “Bad and Boujee” is the culmination of all this, and in the opulent glow of Metro Boomin’s production, you can feel the sense of accomplishment. Quavo lazily basks in his glory sounding smug and secure, while Offset snarls and dashes in and out of more possible pockets than you’d expect the youngest of the trio to find. The possible highlight for me, though, has got to be Lil Uzi Vert’s breathless guest verse, which depending to the listener is either fun and hilarious or the most wretched feature of 2016. I don’t know about you, but hearing this hobbit gasp “MET!HER!TO-DAY!” with utter captivation might be the closest thing I come to “getting” ASMR.
Ramzi Awn: The beat keeps it simple on “Bad and Boujee,” and there’s nothing auto about the tune. Clean as a whistle, the catchy single delivers synth stabs like icicles in a cave. This is where the real party’s at.
Ryo Miyauchi: Migos creeping like a caterpillar — such a song sounds unlikely to yield a hit from the group a couple years ago. They hit fast back then, their personalities colorful and snappy as Zaytoven’s beats, while this one by Metro Boomin’ turns their sound menacingly slow. But no matter, it only lets Offset and Quavo make you admire their every word, not just the what but the how, too. They carries themselves as if you have no choice but listen, and with this recent success topping the charts, that attitude only speaks the truth.
Josh Langhoff: There’s an astounding amount of information packed into this five minute mini-epic. With all those flow patterns and guttural interjections, it’s a complex and unpredictable vocal collage. It ranks with Magic Mike as an intimately felt economic treatise, and with Elton John as a repository of mondegreens — for the longest time I wondered, “Who’s Rufus and why’s he sad?” But for all that, “Bad and Boujee” is a hypnotic and irreducible song, the kind whose aura comes to define a chapter in your life, before inviting you to lose yourself in its details all over again.