Migos have returned with Culture II, the Atlanta trio’s third studio album clocks in at a monstrous 1 hour 45 minutes. We all know what to expect from Quavo, Takeoff and Offset by now. So much so that we were able to review the project six months before it came out and got it mostly right.
But we aren’t here to talk about an album that’s longer than The Lion King; this is the breakdown of their music video for lead single “Stir Fry”.
3 Hyenas Lions King call us @Disney
— QuavoYRN (@QuavoStuntin) November 5, 2017
First, let’s introduce the Migos a little bit. The group is comprised of dreadlocked and bespectacled Quavo, his cousin Offset and Quavo’s nephew Takeoff. The trap rappers have been culturally relevant since popularising the dab, they hit the mainstream in 2017 after the surprise success of “Bad and Boujee”.
Since we last spoke about Migos, the group’s mainstream explosion has helped to solidify their fanbase. Quavo appeared on pretty much every chart song in 2017, making four featured appearances on the UK end of year chart.
Rolling Stone called Migos ‘the most influential group – in any genre – of the past few years’. Their pervasive sound is shaped around the triple flow, creating a string of modern imitators; Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Kanye West are among the more popular proponents of this style.
As expected, the 24-track Culture II lacks the urgency and cohesiveness of their breakthrough project. Regardless, it was important for this glorified mixtape to be released only one year after Culture’s release because it keeps the group relevant.
Das EFX are an obvious parallel. In the early 1990s they had a similarly unique rap style, full of obscure pop culture references and nonsense phrases like ‘riggidy-raow’. This unorthodox rhyme scheme and delivery still feels fresh over 20 years later:
Sadly in the year and a half between their first and second albums Das EFX lost their appeal as the rap community collectively absorbed the group’s quirky style. Therefore, Straight Up Sewaside flopped and Das EFX became a cautionary tale. Migos have to cash in while they can – better flood the market than fade into obscurity.
‘Stir Fry’ was produced by Pharrell and the funky beat feels worlds apart from the usual hi-hat-heavy trap production we’re used to hearing Migos rap over. The infectious hook [possibly written by Pharrell] gives the track pop credentials.
Like previous single “T-Shirt”, “Stir Fry” is a metaphor for cocaine – before Migos boasted of buying pure cocaine as white as their t-shirts, this time they’re cooking up crack like a stir fry. The “T-Shirt” video features the group larking about in furs and riding snowmobiles, (check out our video breakdown here). There was also “FEMA” where the Migos sing about ‘hurricane wrists’ cooking it up, so “Stir Fry” isn’t breaking any new ground for the group.
“Stir Fry” is set in a Chinese restaurant presumably owned by the Migos and pays homage to the Rush Hour trilogy. Let’s get started:
There are several Chinese characters on display throughout the video. Who knows if they are more or less accurate than the sort of misguided tattoos you’d see in a kebab shop at 2am.
We open with Quavo smoking a gigantic blunt. It might be a cigar.. but judging from past behaviour we know better.
We’re less than a minute in and it’s lousy with weed; Quavo directed this video for sure.
Establishing shot of the Migos playing Mahjong in their Chinese restaurant, I hope they named it Three Guys Migos and Fries.
Quavo delivers my favourite line ‘she got a‘big ol’ onion booty that make the world cry’. He celebrates by counting his money.
The party is interrupted by troubling news, Sister 13 hasn’t shown up, but Quavo is happy to open the restaurant anyway.
Meanwhile, the restaurant is buzzing: food is chopped, orders taken and the Migos are busy gambling.
The song is called “Stir Fry”, would it hurt to pick up a wok?
Pharrell is sitting quietly playing with the Migos. His hair is red for inexplicable reasons – perhaps Lil Yachty is starting a trend.
Anyway, here he is barking along to one of the adlibs.
We see a mysterious woman training before placing a troubling call to the Migos’ man at Three Guys.
The plot moistens.
Suddenly a human hand crashes through the window of Three Guys.
Spoiler: we never discover the hand’s owner, a significant pothole in my opinion.
The Migos, unaware of the situation, are busy dancing with Pharrell. It looks like an evolutionary version of Lil B’s cooking dance. Based God’s visionary status can even be felt on the dancefloor.
Pharrell doesn’t really do much except play Mahjong but he makes the video.
The dismembered hand is presented to Quavo and the boys are off, presumably leaving Pharrell as Mahjong champion.
Cut to Migos in stereotypical kung-fu movie attire. They burst into the room and come face-to-face with the villain.
Both parties are on a collision course of destiny that leads to the eating area of the Chinese restaurant.
The guy guarding the door is terrible at his job, look how easily he’s shoved aside. Surprisingly he isn’t the worst bodyguard in the video.
History is made as we get our first every glimpse of Quavo without sunglasses. It’s like seeing a dog doing calculus or Papoose without a hat.
The tense standoff is ended when Sister 13 starts the fight with a couple of the Migos’ female companions.
Plot twist: It is revealed that Sister 13 has been behind all of the nefarious deeds in the story thus far. Most notably cutting off that person’s hand and throwing it through the window, again her motives aren’t explained. It is implied she used to be mates with the Migos because they seem especially pissed off with her.
The song abruptly ends at this point, instead we hear the fight sound over the twangy Chinese muzak. We’re in full-on kung fu movie mode here, I’m stunned RZA hasn’t turned up.
Sister 13 is defeated by the goons and forces the big boss to enter the fray. The scarfaced big bad easily wins the battle then scowls at the Migos.
The Migos strike their hilarious three-way power pose, it’s hard to tell if this is played for laughs.
“Time to go to sleep” gurns Quavo, chewing vast amounts of scenery. Everyone really overacts in this video, mugging to the camera as they deliver stiff dialogue.
What follows is one of the most ridiculous fight scenes in rap video history. I haven’t seen such an egregious use of body doubles since Kirk fought Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series.
Quavo is knocked back by Scarface, cue tiger roar as Takeoff and Offset burst forward to engage in the fast-paced fisticuffs. Never has a tiger roar sound effect been played with such sincerity.
Note: The fight is now three against one.
Scarface succumbs and falls victim to the trios special triple punch attack. It’s so powerful that the move is effective despite Takeoff completely missing the target.
Question: What were Scarface’s henchmen doing during this 3 v 1 fight?
Seconds after Scarface drops, Offset and Takeoff inexplicably have their sunglasses back on.
Quavo dramatically brings the shades back, sadly missing the one-liner opportunity. James Bond would have said something terrible like ‘now that’s what I call a threeway’.
Offset directs his fury towards Sister 13, calling her a snake.
Takeoff heartlessly orders someone to cut out her tongue, which seems like an overreaction. Scarface got their patented three-way punch but Sister 13 get full on tongue trauma. We’re five minutes in and still don’t know why the Migos hate Sister 13 so much or whose hand it was.
No time to answer silly questions about the plot, Migos walk off triumphantly, a job well done. The “Stir Fry” chorus plays them out.
To complete the Rush Hour vibe we get a blooper reel, most of which is sub-standard.
I wish we got the surprisingly amusing video of the Migos making an actual stir fry instead.