Let’s talk about Migos, let’s talk about love, and let’s talk about being simultaneously bad and bougie in a time of mass pop culture. For y’all who don’t know, the term “bougie” (derived from Marx’s “bourgeoisie”) refers to the lavish, materialistic lifestyle that rejects Popeyes in favor of Harlem’s Red Rooster every time, and swaps tap water for VOSS on your weekend-getaway hiking trip.
Migos’ 2016 hit “Bad and Boujee” took the hip hop group, comprised of Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff, to new heights. It’s their first number-one single, it did its rounds on Black Twitter (insert “drop top” meme here), and Donald Glover thanked them for creating the track in his 2017 Golden Globe acceptance speech, crowning them “the Beatles of this generation.” So, what is Love in the Time of Migos?
It’s hard to know when to take Migos seriously, and to use Migos for couples counseling verges on questionable territory. Look at “Hannah Montana” off their second mixtape Young Rich Niggas. The name “Hannah Montana” is repeated 53 times. So when listening to Migos’ music, should I mindlessly bop around, or do I analyze this cultural artifact like a seminar warrior making up pseudo-valid intellectual words?
Now that their second studio album Culture is the number-one album in America, maybe we ought to go with the latter, minus the faux vocabulary. Quavo’s red carpet quote from February’s Planet New Era party takes on new weight—“We speaking for the young generation, we speaking for the young generation of music.” Offset chimed in, “We speaking for the youth.”
On their career high, Offset intones, “My bitch is bad and boujee (bad) / cookin up dope with an Uzi (blaow).” The track is a trap anthem about sauntering through life (young and rich!) alongside a significant other whose expensive taste you can afford becauuuuse you’re young and rich.
That last detail is crucial. I love the song, and I don’t read into it this deeply with each listen, but I should hope that the ultimate conclusion of this thing called love is not predicated on looking young, rich, and fly. I should hope that it’s not about people scrutinizing you just so you can glance up (oh, didn’t see you there) like “yup, I got it like that…” Let me qualify this: I understand hip-hop culture is in part about the braggadocio, the bold unwavering proclamations of dominance. But here I see an opportunity to interrogate the extent to which we see our significant others as reflections of our own self-worth. Oh yes, you called it—Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower comes to mind: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
When I’m old and crusty, miss me with the Culture and keep it real. I want snot-in-my-nose-but-you-still-luhh-me love. I want those-homemade-cookies-gave-me-gas-but-you-still-luhh-me love. My lover is… loved and lovely.