In Defense of Takeoff

Every group has its breakout star, and for Atlanta rap trio Migos, Quavo has long been their Beyoncé. But as they rose to new commercial heights in 2017 with the chart-topping single “Bad and Boujee,” the spotlight shifted to another member, Offset. And that left Takeoff—who doesn’t appear on “Bad and Boujee” or the group’s hit Calvin Harris collaboration, “Slide”—looking like the odd man out. Takeoff even had to defend himself to an interviewer at the BET Awards, motioning to his impressive jewelry and asking, “Does it look like I was left off ‘Bad and Boujee’?”

But Takeoff (a.k.a. Kirshnik Khari Ball) is nobody’s weakest link. In fact, he’s arguably the best MC in Migos, with a flair for vivid word choices and a distinctively raspy voice that contrasts with his uncle Quavo’s buoyantly melodic delivery. And he’s held down the chorus and first verse on some of the group’s hits, including the recent “T-Shirt” and 2014’s “Fight Night,” which was the highest charting Migos single before “Bad and Boujee.”

Takeoff’s hoarse bark often recalls Rick Ross on the group’s most ominous trap anthems like “WOA” and “Cross the Country.” But the way he bites down on consonants with a percussive flow reminds me of Memphis legend MJG, another skilled rapper who was sometimes overshadowed by his partner 8Ball. And he’s displayed a facility for more light-hearted tracks like “Playa Playa,” and even made up for his absence from “Slide” with an appearance on Calvin Harris’ equally smooth “Holiday.” Takeoff released his first official solo track “Intruder” in 2017, and it’s an encouraging glimpse at how capable he is at holding down a song without the help of Quavo and Offset.