Arts & Life, Music

Takeoff soars above expectations on his solo debut

When Atlanta trio Migos blew up in the mainstream in late 2016 with the massive success of their number 1 single, “Bad and Boujee” the internet was ablaze with memes making fun of the exclusion of member Kirshnik Khari Ball, also known as Takeoff, from the track. People making the same “Takeoff, more like Leftoff” joke were shut down when the trio’s second studio album, “Culture,” dropped in January 2017, featuring verses and hooks from Takeoff so strong you’d swear he was the leader of the group.

Migos’ popularity has only further skyrocketed them into the stratosphere of living legends, but Takeoff’s place in the group has constantly remained under fire, especially on social media. Quavo and Offset, with their respective abilities to crafty catchy hooks, have both spent the last two years featuring on other popular artist’s tracks, successfully establishing their public identities outside of Migos.

Less than a month after Quavo’s bloated hour-long debut “Quavo Huncho,” Takeoff released “The Last Rocket,” a concise 35 minutes of well-executed ideas that make a solid argument for his ability to stand as an artist entirely in his own league.

The album has no feature performances outside of Quavo on “She Gon Wink” and Dayytona Fox on “Infatuation,” so it’s really up to Takeoff to hold down the entire project.

Each song has its own unique style and memorable moments, full of bright, colorful production details that dance around Takeoff’s rapid-fire flow, giving him plenty of space to play around with new ideas. The various styles he so effortlessly executes within each track showcase his versatility as an independent MC in a way that he so rarely gets to showcase as a member of a hip-hop group.

On “Vacation,” takeoff teams up with frequent Migos collaborator and producer, Murda Beatz to create a tight three-minute track with specific direction, concise delivery and innovative sonic ideas. The distant, wavy keys and chorus harmonies create a haunting, psychedelic atmosphere for Takeoff to work his lyrical magic in.

“She Gon Wink” is a blissful pop song with a colorful beat, layers of melodic bliss and attention to detail. Quavo takes on hook duties, spitting his melodic bars over a spacy atmosphere while Takeoff knocks his verse out of the park with his one-two punch flow, spitting about all the success he’s experienced.

Even tracks that fumble still offer unique moments that make them worth relistening to.

On “None to Me,” the first few bars of Takeoff’s first and only, verse just don’t melodically work the way he wants them to, ultimately coming across as choppy and out of place. Immediately after this slight blunder, however, he brings things back around with delivery and wordplay strong enough to redeem the whole thing.

Make no mistake, however; “The Last Rocket” is not Takeoff’s attempt to break away from Migos.

“Ain’t never heard bout Migos, boy you must be crazy,” he boasts on “Vacation,” playing to the status and power he holds as a part of the group, rather than trying to boast as if he were just as influential on his own.

Takeoff is certainly aware that he has a lot to prove as a solo artist, and while “The Last Rocket,” is an extremely strong debut project, he’s going to need to continue to strengthen his brand for the post-Migos bubble burst.

He certainly seems optimistic with the direction he’s headed. On “Lead the Wave,” he proudly exclaims “watch how I lead the wave,” asserting that his relevance and influence are due to his hard work and dedication above all else.

If he continues with this level of hustle and quality, Takeoff might actually be on a wave worth following, but only time will tell.

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