What 'Quavo Huncho' means for Migos' next era

Trey Alston

 // Oct 13, 2018

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Michael Kors bought Versace recently for $2.2 billion. The prestige surrounding the two brands supposedly placed them in two different tax brackets. There's the Kors brand that consists of the soft-hued handbags owned by middle-class, van-driving soccer moms. Then, there's the opulent snake-infested marque that sells $60 boxers and makes for a financially irresponsible representation of wealth. The news of the acquisition was met with waves of murmurs about the changing paradigm of street fashion. What would this mean for the exposure of Versace to the middle class? An era of exclusivity and repute has ended for both brands, signaling the beginning of a newfangled age.

Versace's long been a dick-measuring tool for rappers because A., it's exorbitant and B., it's three-syllable -- the catchy name makes it easy to sling into a bar and call it a day. Migos brought the brand's hype to the stratosphere with their breakthrough 2014 "Versace" hit, a bog-standard trap record cut by Takeoff, the quietest, most whimsical lyricist of the trio; Offset -- the brazen second-in-command; and Quavo, the leader of the triumvirate that happens to be a middling mix of both. Drake hopped on the remix and utilized the group's rapid-fire triplet flow and, nearly overnight, Migos became a tentpole of Atlanta's Darwinian rap scene.

The changing tides signal a new day for the group. Ironically, it comes around the same time that Versace is transitioning into new life. Quavo has released his debut solo album, Quavo Huncho, and Takeoff is scheduled to follow with his own, then Offset. Although the group's names share equal weight; Quavo is the judge, jury, and executioner of the group. Quavo Huncho exists at the end of a long road and at the precipice of a new one. How Migos ultimately wriggles through and makes the transformation to a different level of collective understanding largely depends on Quavo Huncho and how it shakes up the rap atmosphere, regardless of how innovative it is or isn't.

Somehow, someway, Quavo became the group's spokesperson early on. He was the perfect mix of charisma and grit. His voice was easily the most glaring of his contemporaries -- it's steely grain and striking clarity -- excelling the group through the years by anchoring its biggest hits. There were always rumors that Quavo would go solo. But, they were tempered by the group's familial bonds (Quavo is Takeoff's uncle, Offset is Quavo's cousin). What would he accomplish solo that he couldn't with his compadres?

As the world got more comfortable with the budding collective, the solo questions were hampered with another talking point: artistry. As a collective entity, the artistry of Migos was far from groundbreaking. The world caught wind of their triplet flow early, leaving them to innovate and update their techniques or blow away in the wind. In all actuality, the latter happened. Their debut album, Yung Rich Nation , moved a paltry 18,000 units its first week, and singles "One Time" and "Pipe It Up" faltered before they could pick up steam. It wasn't until Offset and Quavo stumbled onto "Bad and Boujee" and received a cosign from Donald Glover at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards that Migos received a second wind. This time, the group was focused on providing a steady stream of hits, as opposed to inventive flows or song structuring.

As Migos spun its lore, choruses of internet minds would become enamored with the group's continued success. Culture II 's flurry of singles received inventive visuals courtesy of director Daps, who was determined to bring an imaginative element to Migos' content that wasn't found in the music. Quavo was placed in the videos for "Deadz" and "What The Price" as a central element, and in the latter resembling an eagle -- representative of him being the face of the group of the "Yung Rich Nation," if you will (I'm probably grasping at straws). He quickly went from the group's spokesperson to its primary musical anchor, spinning more inventive autotune stylings through his work.

The news of his long-rumored debut coming now makes much more sense than when whispers were circulating years ago. Migos is a worldwide sensation. The group has worked with Beyoncé and JAY-Z for "APESHIT" from the power couple's June album Everything Is Love. This past Sunday, the group won the award for "Favorite Duo or Group" in the pop/rock category at the American Music Awards, a true symbol of their global popularity. With so many physical and mental trophies in tow, the group's approach to single projects now is much more sensible.

This separation of powers will undoubtedly expose the group's left flank. Post-drill rap was dominated by the fact that cities could, indeed, control the narrative of hip hop culture if powerful enough. Atlanta became the next central hub with Migos instilling a rule over the city, and by extension, rap itself with the creative tendencies that went on to inspire countless imitators. Together, the group is impenetrable with a strengthening hold that comes with each accolade and barrier they easily break. Separated, the weaknesses of their individual artistries show. As it stands thus far, Takeoff and Offset lack the same oomph that makes Quavo a possible solo star. Takeoff often seems disengaged from both the booth and reality when he makes an appearance on a track or in public. Offset fairs slightly better, but provides a run-of-the-mill experience when he steps on to a track. Quavo plays around with autotune, but he's previously been limited to trap and trap-adjacent beats for the sake of his contemporaries. Now that he's free, his every creative move will be analyzed without leniency. He's been subtlety creatively distancing himself for years. Now, it's time to show and prove.

On a first listen, it looks like that distancing was only a mirage. Quavo Huncho is nineteen tracks of Migos cuts minus two-thirds of its members, anchored by Quavo on the hook and Quavo on the verse. There's an ATL movie reference and a surprise feature from Madonna that shakes things up. But, largely, it's drawn from the same creative pool that Migos has drank from for years. "Huncho Dreams" is the album's attempt at starting a conversation, which is something that Migos has largely avoided by playing the background and letting the music speak for itself. Quavo talking about his sexual relationship with Nicki Minaj is more than just a joke, if it's even that. The song shows that Quavo seeks discourse that he's been absent from regardless of star power. For the first time in nearly five years, we have a personality trait from one of the trinity.

Quavo Huncho may be a creative cesspit that lacks the innovation that people were expecting of it. But, the fact that it does humanize Quavo means that the idea of the solo project may be better for the group than once thought. The most that the world knows about Offset is that he can't say no to OPP. His solo body of work gives him a chance to tell his story and make sure that the world knows more about him besides him being an unfaithful, institutionalized rapper. When it comes to Takeoff, there's even less that the world knows about him aside from the rumor that he was irate when he was left off of "Bad and Boujee." If Quavo struck out, the hopes for his two peers can't be much higher. But, we could learn more about who they actually are and additionally, what they plan on doing in rap in the future.

The next phase of Migos began today with the release of Quavo Huncho -- one phase where the world finally comes to a consensus about each member of Migos instead of just a trio. Quavo's first step is both a necessary and welcomed one that strips the group of some of its power, as well as the identity they cultivated for years. There's no going back to the mysterious group tank of churning out periodic hits like a machine. Quavo's latest project embraces the uncertainty that comes with innovative tendencies, even if the album itself amounts to little more than Migos music through one voice. The bold narrative of Migos has separated into three distinct paths. Quavo's story begins anew and it'll be extremely interesting to see how his path differs from both Offset and Takeoff.

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