The story of the Migos is a very curious tale: a group whose expected 15-minutes of fame has resiliently perpetuated, and gestated into pop-culture encompassment. The memes are true: Migos are rivaling The Beatles’ impact. Three kids who should’ve only had a paragraph in Trap music’s history now command chapters, in the faces of guys like T.I., UGK, and Jeezy.
Yung Rich Nation’s ascension has been fueled by persistence, vision, and chemistry. The same guys who got the whole world dabbin’ also recently released Culture, their second official studio album, which debuted at number-one on Billboard. Fittingly, Culture exemplifies Migos’ tangible pop-culture impact, anecdotally evidenced by “Bad and Boujee’s” engulfing influence. Migos are here to stay—until they’re not.
What if Migos aren’t as bulletproof as we think they are? What if their chemistry and family ties (Quavo is Takeoff’s uncle, and Offset is Quavo’s cousin) aren’t enough to sustain their growth? What if they’re susceptible to the same trends that have seemingly always plagued music groups? While Migos’ triad attack strategy—hinging upon Quavo’s addicting sonics, Takeoff’s pounding bass, and Offset’s rugged edge, all underscored by varying trap compositions—has bolstered their rise, appeal, and sustainability, that doesn’t necessarily equate to maximum individualized potential. What if they broke up?
January 27, 2018—exactly one-year after Culture’s release. The Migos’ sophomore effort has been RIAA-certified 2x Platinum, placing on 2017’s overall top-three highest selling albums list. Migos’ wrists are rockier than ever.
The icy superstars are finishing the music video for their Zaytoven-produced Culture hit, “Big on Big”—an ode to how out-stunting them is virtually impossible. Frequent Migos music video director, Daps, enjoyed showcasing the trappers across gorgeous global sceneries, including Venice, Amsterdam, and Barcelona—production costs are a distant worry for Migos. Appropriately completing the visual with footage in their hometown Atlanta, Migos and co. celebrate the wrap by passing around bottles of Moët and cigar-like blunts. Life’s good when you’re young and rich.
After the last seven-gram blunt’s smoke dissipates, Offset removes his Chanel sunglasses to properly assess the situation unfolding in front of him: Quavo is being courted by Young Thug’s manager for a feature—again. Takeoff is too preoccupied by the glistening Instagram model making indiscrete, suggestive hand motions at him to pay attention. If this were 2015, Offset would’ve regarded Quavo’s interaction as a quality opportunity for his cousin. But it’s 2018. The Migos have exploded into the world’s hottest group, and Quavo’s brand is shinier than his neck. Offset’s popularity is stagnant; his jealousy has risen. He wants to confront Quavo, but in effort to maintain the group’s peace, Offset swallows his words with the remaining sips of Moët. “Maybe they were just catching-up,” he thinks to himself.
Sitting in the backseat of their 2018 Rolls Royce, chopping up conversation and weed, their driver escorts them back to their ATL residence. Fame and success might’ve made them individually wealthy, but Migos still find that chemistry’s greatest lubricant is living under the same roof. In the back of the Rolls, jokes and tokes are exchanged, Takeoff shows off the gorgeous IG model to the boys, laughs are had—business as usual. All seems to be well. Descending towards their estate reveals a Migos billboard, featuring Quavo front and center, with Offset and Takeoff lumped together in the background, almost as afterthoughts. If this were 2015, Offset would’ve dismissed this. But it’s 2018…
The gates open, brakes screech, the hotbox opens. While their chemistry is typically intact, their thoughts are fragmented: Quavo is excited about “Big on Big’s” successful shoot; Takeoff can’t wait to take down that IG model; Offset’s dormant anger towards Quavo is activating.
The day’s worth of blunts has Quavo incapacitated, drool soaking in his Versace pillowcases—an ideal time for Offset to have a sidebar with Takeoff. He timidly informs Takeoff of his growing resentment towards their defacto leader, knowing that he’s breaching sensitive grounds. Surprisingly, Takeoff harbors similar feelings. They agree that it shouldn’t be discussed until after that night, in fear of ruining their “Big on Big” video shoot celebratory party at Magic City.
Problems go to drown at Atlanta’s premiere strip club. At Magic City, glitter gingerly cascades from the ceiling like powdery snow on Christmas morning; it vibrates on the floor from the fusillade of trap music, and showers the curvaceous half-naked women occupying the stages and men’s laps. Magic City is… magical. Perhaps magical enough to amend a strained relationship amongst superstar rappers. Upon entry, Migos are welcomed by thunderous applause, heaving breasts shaking back and forth (the stripper clapping equivalent), and of course, “Big on Big” booming at deafening decibels. Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff are escorted to their usual roped-off table, complete with its usual trimmings: an ocean of attractive girls, top-shelf bottles, and a view of the entire club. Drugs are BYOB. So they brought them.
Offset starts railing a line at his table’s end, and finishes it in the cleavage of an adoring groupie. After regaining vision from the momentary blindness induced by breasts clapping his face, he looks up and sees a familiar person: the same person that courted Quavo earlier. It’s clear that they aren’t “just catching up.” Fueled by rage, Hennessy, and four lines of primo blow, Offset grabs Takeoff by the back of the neck, and loudly whispers in his ear, “You see that? I’m done—finished. This will be be like his what? Seventh feature in three-months? How many times has he been on a Wop or Future track? What the fuck?! What about us? Man, fuck the ‘culture’—I’ve gotta say something tonight.” Knowing that a crowded strip club isn’t the setting for such discussions, Takeoff begs Offset to use discretion. Much to his chagrin, Offset doesn’t.
It’s 3:30PM the following day. Glass shards cover their home. Walls that previously helped strengthen their chemistry are now weakened by a collage of holes. Pink insulation peaks out of the openings. The Migos recover in their rooms.
The day’s joyful sun differs to the night’s ominous moon. One by one, they each finally vacate their rooms to confront the previous night’s awkwardness and hostility. Offset and Takeoff venture the highroad by apologizing for broaching the subject in an inappropriate setting, blaming the misguided anger on a concoction of brain-altering substances. Quavo’s full frame Ray-Ban sunglasses cover his black eye, and act as a barrier between him and his friends. Unable to quite look them in the face, he tells them they were right to feel upset, they were justified. Offset and Quavo exhale deeply, assured that this momentary jealously was simply a fleeting juncture. Quavo’s uneasy facial expression tells a different story.
“The chick who was talking to me at the shoot and the club—Thugger’s manager,” Quavo says inquisitively. “Well, so, she actually isn’t his manager anymore. She’s an A&R at Def Jam, and, uh, *clears his throat twice* she asked what I thought about going solo and signing with them.”
Offset and Takeoff answer this statement with blank facial expressions that gradually grow into disbelief. The silence is piercing—no rain drop, no drop top; all that can be heard is a pin drop. Quavo breaks the uncomfortable silence with the most discomforting response, “And I decided I’m gonna do it.”
January, 2019. Quavo is back at Magic City, celebrating the release of his debut solo album, The Quavious Qronicles. On the surface, everything seems to be in place: notching Billboard’s number-one album spot; getting the roped-off table; selecting from top-shelf liquor; being surrounded by beautiful, endowed women, and every major Hip Hop player. But no amount of gingerly cascading glitter, enticing girls, mountains of drugs, or even the omnipresent star-status that he’d hoped would accompany a solo career can fill the palpable void of not having his brothers there. “I should be happy, right?” Quavo thinks to himself. And on the surface, he should be. Every big name in music is toasting his number-one album that’s going to escalate his career from Destiny’s Child to Beyoncé status. The DJ bumps his album’s single, “My Way,” as a stripper grinds on him, manipulating her body to the Metro Boomin' beat. The bass is thick, but the emotions are empty. He can’t help but think about the two family members who helped him get here.
Offset and Takeoff aren’t known to admit defeat; resilience helped their initial rise. Despite losing an imperative leg of their tripod, and critic’s negative forecasts, they’re determined to rebrand themselves as a duo called “Apagado”—a Spanish amalgamation of their names, meaning “off.” Not so much to disprove dismissive critiques, not even to seek revenge against Quavo—this is for them, to prove that they're capable, to prove that they’re deserving. Now, all that stands between Apagado and their debut album release, Still Young, Still Rich, Still Here, is three-hours until 12:00AM EST—Apple Music’s exclusive release time.
Four-days after its drop, Pitchfork posts their review. Offset and Takeoff faces bear ambivalent expressions: excited, yet nervous; happy, yet sad; hopeful, yet wistful. Expecting a modest review of 6-6.5/10, once the Pitchfork page loads, their faces bear a different expression: shock and horror. “The Migos’ recycled parts, Apagado, fail to reinvent themselves, and drown in a sea of disappointment on their debut project,” sits below their depressing grade of 4.2. The text on the screen flies by them at warp-speed, save for a few choice descriptions: “disappointing,” “a misguided effort,” and worst of all, “incapable.”
November, 2019: Thanksgiving Day. It’s been almost 20-months since Quavo informed Offset and Takeoff of his decision to go solo. It’s been almost 20-months since Quavo’s seen his former group mates. Since they were kids, Thanksgiving has always taken place at their Aunt’s house in northern Georgia. Tradition doesn’t yield to family quarrels—usually. Quavo couldn’t attend last year because he was on tour; Apagado was too embarrassed to show face—their resilience has eroded. Even though almost two-years have passed, Offset and Takeoff are well-accustomed with Quavo’s exceptional post-Migos career. Quavo is well-accustomed with their “good effort.” Unable to deal with the fractured family, their aunt devises a plan to trick the former Migos into a reunion. Offset and Takeoff agree to attend, so long as Quavo isn’t there; Quavo mirrors this sentiment. It’s Thanksgiving Day, 2019: a day for family, giving thanks, and deceitful reunions.
Steam rises from the Turkey, surrounded by Migos’ family. Offset and Takeoff arrive first and are welcomed by big hugs, kisses, and a few “hey, you holding up okay?”s. Two-years ago, Offset and Takeoff were gods in their family. Now, they’ve been reduced to receiving sympathetic, borderline patronizing, pats on the back, and re-assurances that “everything will work out.” They’re not convinced. Still, it feels good to catch up with family, it feels safe. If only for a moment, they forget about Apagado’s failed venture that ravaged their faith. Hearing Quavo’s new Mercedes Maybach roar in the driveway, bumping his hit, “My Way,” quickly relocates Apagado from safe space to living hell. “What the fuck is he doing here?!” Offset and Takeoff exclaim. Moments later, Quavo walks in, eyes his former collaborators, and exclaims, “What the fuck are they doing here?!” Thanksgiving: a day for family, giving thanks, and deceitful reunions.
Jaws tight, fists clenched, emotions peaking, they stand on opposite sides, separated by the Thanksgiving buffet, ready to incite war. After the initial shock subsides, their aunt explains the reasoning behind her deception. She reminds them of who they are, where they came from, what they accomplished together, and most importantly, unlike the majority of music groups, they’re family. Before the lavish cars, parade of willing women, and icy wrists, all they had were each other, drugs to flip to get by, and a dream. Her sage perspective disarms the tension, and invites them into a separate room to talk.
Awkwardness crowds the room. Takeoff finally breaks the silence by telling Quavo that he enjoyed The Quavious Qronicles. Offset half-heartedly agrees. Taken aback, Quavo’s shoulders sink, he exhales, and cracks a slight smile, almost in disbelief. He tells Apagado that Pitchfork is filled with pretentious assholes, and that he thought Still Young, Still Rich, Still Here had potential if tweaked slightly. He exhales more exaggeratedly, and apologizes for what he did, for how he did it. His increased fame, exposure, and money was supposed to fill a career void, but instead reminds him of his hollow existence. Much like Offset and Takeoff’s resilience, Quavo’s passion has eroded. For Quavo, his solo career can’t capture a glimpse of the magic that the Migos did. It’s just not the same. He’s not the same. Offset genuinely pats Quavo on the back, and thanks him. The former defacto leader extends an olive branch, asking if they’d be interested in a reunion tour, or even getting back together. The idea is shot down instantly by Apagado. They can’t go through that pain again; none of them can. Jealousy tore them apart, but family and history re-sutured their frilling bond.
Takeoff chuckles, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a quarter of Granddaddy Purp, a grinder, and a gold blunt wrap. They proceed to chop up conversation and weed, and exchange jokes and tokes; laughs are had—business as usual. All seems to be well.