Though this video is very recent, I believe the Migos Carpool Karaoke with Late Late Show host James Corden represents a large part of American culture. To begin, the Late Late Show is filmed in Los Angeles, setting the show in a city that is largely representative of American culture. For many, the city of Lost Angeles represents the American Dream of rags to riches, expressed through Hollywood ideals of making your own way in the creative world, whether on screen or in real life. Los Angeles also represents a long American tradition of colonialism, segregation, and gentrification, as much of the city’s history includes Spanish, Mexican, and ultimately American occupation, corruption, and police brutality. Although Migos formed in Georgia, much of hip hop (including West-coast hip hop especially) includes themes of police brutality, gang violence, and other hardships faced by many of those left out of the idealist vision of Los Angeles. The music of N.W.A. and Dr. Dre in particular harken back to a tradition of expressing these struggles through hip hop.
Migos’ success story largely follows the American Dream archetype, as Quavo was quoted in a 2015 Rolling Stone article explaining how they “made a million dollars out of $4000” through their single “Versace”. The success of Migos and Childish Gambino fall into the same era of heightened insecurity, blatant institutional racism, and the fight for survival in the music industry and life in general as black men. Though their renditions of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “Sweet Caroline” don’t necessarily relate to the same violent struggles depicted in the video for “This Is America”, Migos does manage to bring their hip hop style into some American classics. One could argue that songs like “Sweet Caroline” have come to represent white American culture, finding its place on wedding playlists through the past few decades. Considering the American trope of the “melting pot”, combining Migos’ modern hip hop style with a Neil Diamond classic represents the melding of American musical cultures from the 1970s into today. With hip hop as the most popular music genre today, Migos’ performance in this episode of Carpool Karaoke provides a great representation of current American music and culture, particularly that of younger generations and minority communities.
Obviously, successful hip hop artists and white talk show hosts do not perfectly represent the American public in general. However, the combination of hip hop culture and white culture, especially in the context of the American idealism of Los Angeles, does represent the melting pot of American culture. Though this represents a sillier side of American culture, compared to Childish Gambino’s video, the inclusion of hip hop culture and white culture in this episode of The Late Late Show still stands to represent American culture.
Migos on Carpool Karaoke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irVIUvDTTB0