“Disposable” is one of the most frustrating terms music critics tend to overuse. It suggests that the music itself determines its worth to the listener, as if the listener doesn’t have any agency in whether or not they like what they hear. It mischaracterizes the relationship between the creator, the product, and the consumer. Technically, all music is consumable if it doesn’t add value to the listener’s life experience, but what determines that? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
But that binary is false too. There’s always the third option: The tchotchke. What about the thing that we don’t necessarily use every day, but that we can’t seem to get rid of? It’s a curio, an object of temporary interest. It sits on the shelf, not really doing anything or meaning much to anybody, but occasionally you take it down and play with it a bit, or look at it for a reminder of a good time you had. It isn’t timeless but it isn’t worthless either.
Offset’s debut album, Father Of 4, feels a lot like it’s aiming for that third category. Much like most of Migos’ music, it doesn’t seem to reach much for that gold standard of a rap “classic,” even as it tacks on some of the signifiers of one. It’s middlingly appealing, a rap album that, to the uninitiated, won’t look or sound like much more than a trinket that they can toss away without a second thought.
Quality Control is a company that knows what works for this marketplace and their target audience, and the thing keeping Migos and the other rappers on the label from achieving classic status isn’t a lack of quality or even the use of a formula. The formula is how they’ve achieved everything they have so far; there’s something comforting about knowing what you’re going to get with each release, even with the small tweaks that Offset himself makes to the formula on his debut.