The Migos Mélange, or You Should Be Able to Tell the Migos Apart By Now
*originally written May 2017*
The Migos — rappers Offset, Takeoff, and Quavo — recently released individual tracks. Their styles are well-known in the industry by now, and their chemistry is what makes it so interesting to listen to them. They rarely miss on a track together.
But what about solo?
While listening to the three individual tracks, I realized something: the Migos are very unique, even to one another. They’ve been able to retain their own individual style, delivery, and preferences while also forming one of the most cohesive and complementary rap units we’ve seen in years. Migos should be respected for the true talent they possess.
“Monday” x Offset
Offset comes out with the longest track out of the three, which I find unsurprising. I always think people who come out of sticky situations — like months in jail — and then find success are the ones who will probably appreciate it most (and probably have the most to say).
The track is called “Monday” and it features Offset giving us his goals and standards for this better life he’s now living. You get your typical drop-top references, the enviable prospect of laying with a different “thot every Monday,” and a reminder to miss their armored Sprinter bus with the baby rounds — your standard bravado — but what stands out to me most is Offset’s energy. His exuberance is forward-facing even if he seems to be caught up in the glamour of the present. Listen to the track; by the end of the two-and-a-half minutes, I’m willing to bet you’ll be doing some form of the Shawty Lo run. This song is a marathoner; the spirit is jubilant. This is the perspective of someone who’s finally on his way and out the trap, and he and his bestfriends have zero intention of seeing that life again.
“Paper Ova Here” x Quavo
Quavo does here what he does better than just about every artist out right now: make catchy and uplifting trap music.
That almost sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but follow me.
Although Quavo’s track may be the shortest of the three, the usually chorus-focused Migo is totally comfortable given the time constraints. “Paper Ova Here” is a play on the classic Craig Mack track “Flava in Ya Ear,” but Quavo makes it all his own. The beat is much more Baptist than Bronx; his flow is celebratory but hardly boastful. In my opinion, Quavo has the most universal appeal of the trio because of his unique ability to find himself at home on any track. This song honestly doesn’t have any sort of unique production, but Quavo manages to fit some truly reflective bars and repetitions of one of the catchiest chorus lines so far this year into just under two minutes of rap! This guy has talent that we don’t even really notice until we run the numbers, sort of like ‘Bron ‘Bron.
“Intruder” x Takeoff
Takeoff has the only track of the three where I actually expect the other two Migos to show up — only because he uses ad-libs profusely, and this track has a steady cadence where you anticipate another flow to come.
This isn’t meant to take away from Takeoff’s effort at all! “Intruder” is the second-longest track of the three but I’m pretty sure it has the most content bar-for-bar. Takeoff seems to pride himself more on delivery than the other Migos, not to say Quavo or Offset have weak delivery. Takeoff clearly uses his choppy flow as a trademark. He spits in rapid-fire mode on about 80-percent of his tracks; even the chorus on “Intruder” consists of these types of bars. However, I can’t and won’t discount the quality of Takeoff’s lyrics here. Takeoff shoves more analoghies and similes into these two minutes than you’d expect; I really needed to play this track repeatedly in order to catch all of what Takeoff’s saying — not something I would say about the other two. Takeoff uses “Intruder” to warn of possible trouble, a contrast to the typical upbeat Migos songs and specifically Offset and Quavo’s solo tracks. None of them have ever been shy to let people know they keep it on ‘em, but “Intruder” is the track that focuses far more on retaliation than rejoicing. Takeoff celebrates his success, but he knows what success brings — and he’s right. You never know who’s an intruder.
Outside of (maybe) TDE, it’s hard to think of a rap crew more unique than Migos: they each possess styles distinct enough to present individual tracks or individual track elements (choruses, ad-libs, etc), but with a cohesiveness that makes it feel like you’re listening to one artist with one goal and one vision, like you hear on YRN and Culture.
I remember years ago I heard Migos and thought Gucci Mane was somehow cloning himself and creating small groups of those clones to make music — a concept I found brilliant. But I was mistaken: Migos aren’t clones of anyone. They are three unique and versatile personalities capable both of producing cohesive projects and impressive individual efforts. And their differences — however minor they appear to be — are likely the key to their brilliance as a collective.