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Most people’s first taste of Migos was probably the drug dealer’s disturbing slapstick of “Versace” or “Hannah Montana,” the madcap hits from the Atlanta rap trio’s 2013 mixtape, YRN (Young Rich Niggas). But if you followed hip-hop closely during those years, your introduction may have been to the more reflective and ambitious project “RIP,” in which the group mourned the death of fellow Freebandz OG Double D and defined what was at stake in rap. he did not come out as a worker. The three were worried about safety and death, Quavo opened his mouth about the death of his father and Takeoff cycling through pain and braggadocio before reaching paranoia: “I know they’re after me, but I won’t let them catch me / And every day and all night , I pray that they will not arrest me.” Migos can do cartoonish absurdism and stress-out realism, and contributed to changing attitudes about trap in years when the audience was not nearly as open-minded as it is now. It is a proof of how much 2022 has been shot and killed this week in Houston.
It was a family group: Quavo is Offset’s cousin and Takeoff’s uncle. They had a chemistry that they grew up with, and the rift was revealed in Offset’s recent lawsuit against record label Quality Control Music over ownership of his solo catalog (scratched by Quavo and Takeoff dropping the Unc & Phew album. Built exclusively for Infinity Links without him) it didn’t seem like it could go on indefinitely. These were young men who saw each other on holidays. “His mother took care of everything, and so did we,” Quavo recalled in 2013 Fader the interview. We lived in the same house. Rap was Takeoff’s idea. Estimated life of art; Migo was the glue that held the song together and the fulcrum Quavo’s hook-man/front-man tendencies and Offset’s laser focus on touching you with his catch on deceptively relaxed syllables. Walking can do all that or play the field while being shown. Most of his great verses stand near the tail end of a long song. (That’s why it didn’t make sense that he was left out of “Bad and Boujee.”) He went second to last on Drake’s remix of “Trophies” and melted it: “When I hit the floor, I’m gonna hop on the Zonda / Smoking good weed in Mexico, call it that Kitana / Try putting Rihanna on me. It’s a place to go Culture Album bruiser “Deadz” drives home the point, his perfect timing and symbol: “Niggas talk, they hate it, they plan it, they wait it out / They want my ice, tell them to come get it / Do people tell me I can’t do it / Now I’m doing shows outside nations. Put him in the pole position and crush it. In “All That’s Good,” from 2014 Time for a fat nigga mixtape, Takeoff complains about coming up with another worried guy “Talkin’ ’bout treating him like Macaulay Culkin” because he’s home alone. Elsewhere, he decides to take her to Miami and keeps her at his side like a gun, leaning on Miami. Scarface something but to oppose it with humor.
It was a clever thing, an undeniable testament to pure art, but it obscured many people who came to the music looking for a moral compass. A song like “Contraband” — “Inarcotic, narcotic, narcotic” — disturbs a certain genre, people who listen to the lyrics of rap music hear ways that can be found by other pairs of ears, worried about being able to distinguish between real and intentional violence. . On that occasion, Takeoff jokingly beat potters such as Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright, Adrien Broner, or Mike Tyson sold dangerous tips to impressionable fans. If you think music should be a service to deliver uplifting messages, you have a problem with bando talk because it doesn’t clearly tell you that selling drugs can be a terrible line of work. Migos’ songs made you aware of the robbery and toil that you can have in a comfortable life but left you to your devices as the action movie shows its hero unleashing a rough, tumble behavior without choice. Culture‘s “Brown Paper Bag” goes there: “Don’t ever look behind me, kiss a little and live fast / I finished first but I swore a nigga started last / I was born with nothing but a nigga know I got it. To get a bag / I was raised by my mother, so that nigga ain’t got no daddy.”
These are trailblazers, not role models – arrests, infighting, and civil lawsuits make the latter a tough sell. But Black artists deserve the license to tell bad stories without morally spoon-feeding young audiences, to deal with adult themes in art designed specifically for mature audiences. We can ask rappers to be more aware of the messages they promote. We can’t ask them to parent everyone in their ears, and we need to do more to provide grieving fans with powerful social figures than icy, well-behaved distance. Rappers are in danger if gun violence takes place in a dice game, and Young Dolph is shot dead after a trip to the cookie shop, and Trouble can’t rest at home undisturbed. And if we hold these tragedies, along with the death of PnB Rock and Pop Smoke, as evidence of the soullessness at the core of the hip-hop community, we are serving actors who have no interest in the culture beyond their means. they use it to infect and criminalize Black youth and their interests. To transform the violence in hip-hop into a story about the responsibility of the dispossessed person, to sing rap as a source of toxic worldviews and criminal acts instead of a megaphone to amplify existing values and divisions, tells people who are interested in protecting society but have no care for the future of hip-hop as a way of living to stop crime by keeping musicians in the business, and shutting Black youth out of incredible career opportunities is not a solution to the problem of latchkey kids who don’t have the right places and influences.
You are within your rights to sing for more uplifting music in this difficult time, appealing to artists to vent their anger on their records and social media. But we can’t suppress the art, we step on the desirable threads on the rapper’s body to highlight only the dirt they do or discuss. (Yes, Takeoff turns on Draco Culture‘s “T-Shirt.” He also touches on religion and social work: “I’m feeding my family, nigga, there’s no way around it / I’m never gonna stop, nigga, God told me to show my talent.”) We have to handle it. This problem seems to be bigger than hip-hop. In a climate of increasing wealth disparity and sectarian violence and mass murder, where no amount of casual shooting can rouse our national leadership to enact gun reform, it’s absurd to ask 20 rappers for mercy that our elected officials can’t be bothered to show. . That’s a recipe for inertia.
Treating Takeoff’s loss as a casualty of violent chickens coming home to roost distorts the image of who he was, seen mostly in giddy buddy rap and warm family memories of recent Takeoff and Offset songs like “Two Infinity Links” : “Before of the cake, in front of the stage, we divided the honey buns / 5:30, mother’s house, we were all sons / 85 NAWF where we all come from.” They sound certain that they will spend the rest of their lives sharing these experiences. It’s more than a shocker of tragedy even for Migos, the group that brought a funky time and an infectious triplet to the top of the pop charts, and forced fair-weather rap audiences and die-hard old-heads alike to appreciate the feat. Departure will be missed. One of rap’s greatest trios will never be the same. But within the abundance of records he left behind, Takeoff still shines, all the green diamonds around his neck, looking like the Riddler. We just have to consult him there now.