The debate over who is the best of the three Migos is an ongoing one that will probably never stop, even after the Atlanta trio exits their prime. But one thing is for certain: the person most consistently left out of the running by the public is the group’s youngest member, Takeoff. It’s likely that the reasons for this aren’t just dependent on musical ability. Whenever he’s given equal space as Quavo and Offset, Takeoff’s contributions are never lackluster. What seems to be shaping public perception more than anything is that the group’s other two members are more willingly active in the glitz and glam of pop stardom. Quavo has been considered Migos’ frontman since they broke onto the scene and Offset’s moment on “Bad and Boujee,” plus his relationship with Cardi B pushed him to the forefront of most people’s consciousness. But one would be hard pressed to find ways to prove that there is much space between any of them when it comes to pure skill (here’s a fan-uploaded case for why Takeoff is the best).
Last week, amongst an overwhelming number of rap and R&B releases, Takeoff shared his debut solo album, The Last Rocket. The 12-track, 38-minute project, in duration, feels like a demo compared to what the group, and Quavo as a solo artist, have released in recent memory. But within it, there are moments that show Takeoff being able to flex his adventurousness more than he has had the chance to up to this point. The clearest sign of that is “Infatuation,” an unsuspecting synth-pop song about being head-over-heels for someone. At other points like on the cruising “Casper” and “Lead the Wave,” which features his “Walk It Talk It” flow, his husky voice adds a calming quality to full tracks that otherwise would only get an abbreviated verse from him on Migos tracks.
On an episode of Everyday Struggle last week when discussing Takeoff’s lead single “Last Memory,” show commentator Wayno said “Whenever you get groups that do solo shit, you get a distinction in the music that separates them from the group. This sounds like a Migos song that he took to himself.” The critique was a fair one, but when considering the triplet flow that each member raps in, it’d be difficult for them to sound much different from each other, but there are elements that distinguish Takeoff from the group. The most clear one is his voice. Though a trained ear can tell the difference between Quavo and Offset, their tones of voice are similar enough that they could be confused for one another. Takeoff’s gruff delivery is immediately identifiable, and when joined with proper production, it thrives. “Last Memory” works mostly because his voice adds to a perfect weigh to the eerie beat. On “None To Me” he uses those vocal skills to effectively harmonize on the song’s hook. But aside from those sonic factors, album length alone, makes The Last Rocket a much more tolerable listen than a handful of Quality Control releases over the past two years.
The problem with recent releases from Migos members — barring Offset’s and 21 Savage’s Without Warning — was never that the music was bad, but that it was easy to get lost in how long their projects ran. Culture ran just shy of an hour and its January sequel fell just 15 minutes short of two. Those two recent efforts, along with albums like Drake’s 90-minute-long Scorpion, started to drive discourse among rap fans about whether or not these decisions were being made with fans’ pleasure in mind, or just to achieve the best streaming numbers possible. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but, as a listener, when that decision starts to feel like it comes before the quality of the album, sitting through it starts to become a challenge.
The Last Rocket likely won’t be considered as a highlight of any of the Migos members careers, but what it does solidify is that Takeoff offers a skill-set that casts him as a formidable standalone artist, making him as good as his two counterparts. But his most crucial feat with the album is that his awareness to be abbreviated in his delivery makes listening to it a much less daunting experience, which is a skill worth acknowledging.