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Courtesy of Damon Winters / The New York Times

February 27, 2019

What’s Next for the Migos?

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Friday’s release of Father of 4 by Offset marked the last of the Migos solo releases for the near future. While Father of 4 is the clear standout project of the three, this isn’t saying much. Quavo’s QUAVO HUNCHO and Takeoff’s The Last Rocket were two mediocre, forgettable albums. None of the three come anywhere near hitting the highs of the Migos’ studio albums or even mixtapes. This doesn’t mean that Father of 4 should be disregarded; rather it provided a place for Offset to experiment and open up en large for the first time in his career in a way that will only stand to make the next Migos album even better.

Father of 4 sees Offset take a new artistic direction. This project involves a healthy dose of autotune, creating an incredibly smooth end product when layered over Metro Boomin and Southside’s sleek production. This smoothness stands in stark contrast with Offset and the Migos’ early career; oftentimes early Migos projects such as the underground hit No Label II felt like the sonic embodiment of Lenox Mall’s True Religion store in terms of fostering an environment dedicated to the heaviest of flexing, for better or for worse. Father of 4, then, felt far less gimmicky than the average Migos album. Father of 4 stays relatively free from the “bubblegum trap” lyrics Migos coined in the first place, and there’s far fewer ad libs than expected, which is probably nice because it would sound slightly weird to hear Offset rap about not knowing his child’s mother followed by Takeoff’s signature “MAMA!” adlib. It also expands upon the triplet flow that Migos brought into the mainstream, but this time incorporates it with far greater rhythmic diversity.

While Offset’s previous work with Migos was great, it often felt impersonal. The eponymous opening track, “Father of 4” addresses this issue immediately, and continues throughout the album as Offset discusses everything from his relationship with each of his children, drug addiction and a car accident that forced an overnight hospital stay. Curiously though, his relationship with Cardi B is hardly discussed at all.

Even though Father of 4 sees Offset make significant artistic project, the whole album still feels flat in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. Each listen reminds you that for as solid of a project as it is, it still lacks the dynamism of a full length Migos project. This makes sense: Quavo, Offset and Takeoff all grew up together and have spent years making music together, allowing each other to specialize and build off each other. For instance, some of the best Migos songs such as “T-Shirt” or “Hannah Montana” involve a catchy hook by Quavo, a rhythmically dexterous verse by Offset and some unique way of providing the steel to fill the in-betweens by Takeoff. Each ingredient in this formula doesn’t stand out particularly well on its own because it’s never needed to, there’s always been another Migo to fill in the gaps. Separating one member isn’t conducive to a quality song because they’ve all developed together, in a similar way that separating mutually beneficial organisms has an effect of damaging all parties involved.

So what’s next for Offset and the Migos? Two mediocre solo albums and an experimental, anecdotal project don’t exactly provide the most solid ground to build on, particularly when the group’s most recent release, Culture II, showed cracks in the Migo style. However, it’s important to note that there was a similar exhaustion with Migos back in 2015; there was a sense that hits like “Versace” and “Hannah Montana” were just trendy songs that would be quickly forgotten about, in much the same way we currently talk about other viral artists such as Lil Pump or Blueface. They responded to these criticisms by developing a darker, less in-your-face style and released the genre defining Culture, their most critically and commercially successful project at that time.

It feels like another shift is coming in the Migos sound, likely with Offset at the front. Considering how he was incarcerated during their early success and had the least number of words on Culture, it feels like it’s finally his turn at the helm. It’s difficult to shake the feeling that the next Migos project will be a much darker, more mature sound as they’re finally able to open up about their rise to fame.

Daniel Moran is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. He can be reached at dmoran@cornellsun.com.