Quavo is to Migos what Beyonce was to Destiny’s Child. It’s a theory held as true almost since the northside Atlanta trio exploded into the mainstream five years ago with “Versace” and its Drake-assisted remix. Through 15 official mixtapes and a street album, Young Rich Nation released in 2015, Quavo has long been considered the standout personality from the gang and the de facto leader. He’s been the group’s spokesman in interviews, is largely responsible for the overall creative direction of the group’s music and accompanying videos, and even been included as featured guest more than either Offset or Takeoff. Throughout the rise of Migos, fans have insisted nearly the entire time he should break off and go solo, yet, all the while, he never did. That changes with the release of his solo debut, Quavo Huncho, this weekm as Quavo finally endeavors to answer the question: Can he live up to the hype and stand on his own as a solo artist? And what happens to the rest of the Migos brotherhood if he does?
Beyonce comparison aside, it’s clear that Quavo is the most recognizable Migo, only partially on the merits of his existing body of work with everyone from pop stars like Halsey, R&B divas like Mary J. Blige, and of course, just about every rapper in the game, including Drake, Juicy J, Lil Uzi Vert, MGK, Post Malone, and YG. Believe it or not, that’s just his collaborations from the first half of 2017, and doesn’t even include the monstrous DJ Khaled posse cut, “I’m The One,” which reigned over rap and pop’s charts for much of the year. By comparison, Offset has around 23 listed singles features credited to his name, while Takeoff doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.
Some of the disparity is due, of course, to Offset’s run-ins with the law. In 2013, at the beginning of the trio’s rise to prominence, Offset was incarcerated in Georgia’s Dekalb County jail for violating his probation related to prior convictions for burglary and theft. Takeoff is just a retiring sort, quiet in interviews, often absent from public appearances, and infamously, “left off” the group’s huge 2017 Culture single “Bad & Boujee,” giving the internet one of its most enduring gags and giving Joe Budden reason to avoid the crew as much as possible in the months since their disastrous interview. He rarely does features, while Offset’s biggest contribution to the group’s separate output was the 21 Savage and Metro Boomin collaboration, Without Warning, which was an excellent, overlooked rap album that, though it was well received, didn’t sell much.
Legal drama and introspective personalities aside, it’s always seemed that Quavo was the standout, the star — a view which is even supported by data compiled by Pigeons And Planes in a study comparing the statistical contributions of each Migos member to their major label debut, Culture. Quavo was responsible for over half the choruses and hooks on that album, over 1,000 more words than each of his cohorts, and was a wellspring of the hooks for nearly the entire rap game throughout all of 2017. He individually outsold his bandmates by a truly ridiculous amount and became a go-to for stars of every genre.
The question that naturally follows is this: Can the reflection of Quavo’s popularity and talent as a solo artist translate to a full album? Will Quavo Huncho live up to the potential that many longtime Migos fans have divined for him, or will his solo debut only serve as evidence that he and the rest of Migos should stick to group efforts only? Considering that he’s been the creative director for the group for so long, it would seem preposterous that Quavo Huncho could flop, but plenty of well-established artists have fallen short of success they enjoyed as members of a group — especially in rap.
While Pusha T, Q-Tip, Run, Phonte, and more have all gone on to have well-respected careers after they broke away, their counterparts Malice, Phife Dawg, DMC, and Big Pooh weren’t always as highly acclaimed after their groups split up. Even though Andre 3000 has never dropped an album post-Outkast, Big Boi has drawn less attention for complete projects than 3K has for his guest verses. Quavo, despite all the buzz his own guest appearances have generated and the impact of his leadership over Migos’ overall sound, can still land on either side of that equation depending on the whims of fickle rap fans.
And with Offset and Takeoff both preparing individual releases of their own, there’s still a chance that either of them turns out to be the true breakout star of Migos — or that Migos, like peanut butter and jam, are better together than apart. If it turns out any one of them is bigger than the group, what happens to the other two? Is their bond strong enough to survive the increased weight on one leg of their tripod? I’m sure they’d like to think so — and so would their fans. When Beyonce split from Destiny’s Child that was the end of that particular trio. Quavo Huncho isn’t just a make-or-break moment for Quavo, it’s one for the entire Migos operation, like it or not.
Quavo Huncho is out now via Quality Control Music/Motown Records/Capitol Records. Get it here.