Those who enjoyed OutKast albums may have recognized the deep growl of Big Rube opening Offsets new album Father of 4. The spoken word legend kicking off the project implied a seriousness we hadn’t seen in any previous Migo project, let alone any of the individual members.
Offset is a rapper who makes up 1/3 the Migos. They are one of the most well-known acts in pop music right now, and partially responsible for the mainstream explosion of trap music. The Migos appeal lies mostly in their signature triplet flows; multiple rhyming bars followed by a pause between each line. Their relaxed delivery isn’t as aggressive as some of their contemporaries, but it is backed up by energetic ad-libs. Their best songs have a truly hypnotic quality which causes a glazed look and consistent head bob to come over the listener.
Offset doesn’t stand out as the most remarkable member of the trio, but his efforts outside the group have proved more fruitful. In fall of 2017, the Without Warning tape showed Offset’s unique tendency towards creepier instrumentals and grimy bars while collaborating with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin. This collaboration was a reason to be excited about Father of 4 outside of his being a part of Migos. And sure enough, at his best on his new solo foray, Offset does deliver a different sound and more personal lyrics than Takeoff and Quavo.
The most notable change that Offset has undergone on Father of 4 is signaled by the title. He’s presenting himself as a family man, a welcome change, as it gives diversity to lyrics that quickly grow repetitive for a full album. Outside of cooking crack and kicking doors, Offset is now concerned about being there for his family financially. It’s definitely an improvement, and he works in his new content pretty smoothly. On the title track Offset gives more details of his early life than we’ve heard before. He raps, “Had a baby as a kid, mama kicked me out / had to go and hit a lick tryna put food in your mouth.” He also addresses his kids directly, rapping “Kalea, you my first, first daughter / I missed the first years of your life I’m sorry.”
This transition towards more personal lyrics is mostly presented in the first half of the album on songs like “Father of 4,” “How Did I Get Here” and “North Star.” At other points in the album, however, he devolves too often into the usual themes of crime and riches, which are most engaging when they contrast each other, like in “Lick,” when they are delivered without alternating subjects, like in “On Fleek” with his fellow Migo, Quavo.
Besides Offset falling into his genres cliches and repetition, some of his serious moments fall flat and feel hilariously underwritten. His social commentary is mostly surface level, like when he randomly references Rosa Parks and then bounces back to one of his usual subjects in the next line. His attempt at an apology track to Cardi B for his infidelity shows how little he cares, although the use of what sounds like cricket chirps in the instrumental is interesting. Many songs on the album are weighed down by features, like “Legacy,” where Travis Scott and 21 Savage appear just to add to runtime.
Still, Father of 4 shows glimpses of an exciting new side of Offset which will hopefully be more prominent in future work. Like with all rap groups, especially because of each member recently releasing their individual albums, there is heated discussion around who is the best of the three. This poses a dilemma however, for if any one of the Migos is far and away the best, then what are the others bringing to the table? Offset cements himself as the Migo with the most to offer, and brings into question whether the group is really greater than the sum of their parts.