Eons ago, the public demanded that Migos troubadour Quavo perform on "The Star Spangled Banner" or create a new national anthem for America. Huncho was game, but it was only several months later that he would finally deliver, which he did via his Twitter on the afternoon of Martin Luther King Day.
It seems reasonable to assume that the full song will appear on Migos' Culture II, out next week, but the snippet is already beautiful enough. It's also one of the first genuinely earnest political songs the group has done.
Somewhere in the rap ether, however, another answered the call to create a new American anthem. That person was Young Thug, who was more on-the-nose by literally calling his song "MLK" but decided to invite Trouble and Shad da God to join in on the revolution, too.
I'll let one Soundcloud commenter put it best:
A wild, irresponsible take? Yes, but you listen to that gospel beat and tell me you don't feel inspired.
Now, let's break it down here. Technically, "Culture National Anthem" doesn't follow a lot of the tropes that most national anthems use even though it literally quotes "Star-Spangled Banner." There's no underlying march rhythm (or any strong groove at all) so the melody doesn't land on all the downbeats to emphasize an underlying militaristic patriotism. It's also in a minor key, which most national anthems aren't (unless they're the ones for Romania, Pakistan or a few dozen countries that DO have kinda sad-sounding anthems). Just listen to how weird "Star-Spangled Banner" sounds when transposed to its enharmonic opposite. You could safely call "Culture National Anthem" a hymn, though. It's choral enough.
Thug's "MLK" has a strong beat, is in a major mode, and features an impassioned vocal performance but again, is closer to church than the sports arena. Perhaps pitting these two good songs against each other is futile. Two of rap's great melodicists took it upon themselves to pay tribute to the good side of the American spirit in this era, and that's a truly beautiful thing.
Phil is on Twitter.