By Kwase Lane, Contributor
[Quality Control; 2018]
Key Tracks: “FUCK 12”, “RERUN”, “LOST”
On his debut solo album, QUAVO HUNCHO, Quavo leaves his compatriots behind in order to prove he is a competent stag artist. However, the Atlanta icon has managed to prove the opposite. Instead of distancing himself from the sound that put his group Migos on the map, Quavo opts to produce a pale imitation of the trio’s sound. Quavo is unable to carry a song by himself, let alone a 19-track album, and it shows. The entire affair serves to highlight the overconfidence of the trap superstar. Only an artist possessing an extreme amount of hubris could begin their solo career with an album that makes it clear how much they need their group and without realizing the flaws that permeate the piece.
“FUCK 12” exemplifies the copious issues that plague the album. Quavo chooses to begin his anti-police anthem with an intro from Malcolm X. This may not sound like a bad idea at first, but it soon becomes clear that Quavo cannot keep up or show any amount of nuance while rapping, choosing instead to lean on a chant of “Fuck 12, Fuck 12, Fuck 12.” Offset takes over for the second verse and shows a level of lyricism and tact that one would expect the song’s architect to have: “Young, rich, black, got my mama on my back / Daddy disappeared when my mama took him back.” Quavo even goes as far as to compare the African American experience to being someone with face tattoos. It feels as if the civil rights angle was an afterthought and Quavo was looking for another track to fill the space on his already swollen album.
Rather than cut content that doesn’t showcase his full potential, Quavo includes a two-year-old throwaway track from Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho in the form of “Rerun”. The deep, hazy production feels out of place, but that’s not such a bad thing when it’s a clear improvement from most of the other tracks on the album. Travis Scott takes the lead in what serves as a brief respite from Quavo’s incessant triplet flow. “Rerun” is a tourist in the barren wasteland that is QUAVO HUNCHO. It’s evident that this song doesn’t belong here, but it remains a standout in this desolate, sonic expanse.
The album’s final track, “Lost”, attempts to capture some semblance of introspection, but even this is a task too great for Quavo. The song feels almost-mocking with every puddle-deep line being punctuated by a tone-deaf ad-lib. The production on this piece feels disgustingly empty, and everything is swallowed by a foul sounding echo. The inclusion of Kid Cudi in the second verse saves the song while condemning Quavo even further. Cudi is a master of sad crooning, but he somehow makes better use of the trap beat than the album’s headliner. Quavo tries but is removed from his star position in the final track by an artist he chose to invite.
QUAVO HUNCHO is a bloated corpse, and the bits of life that do exist inside can’t help but resemble writhing maggots. In his ill-prepared attempt to escape the chains of his group, Quavo has shown just how greatly he leans on other artists. It is reminiscent of when a child packs a bag with three toys and says, “I’m running away.” Migos has heavily popularized the ad-lib, and it’s admirable that he tried to take that for himself, but it feels really pathetic when you remember that he is now effectively his own hypeman. Quavo is unable to be auditorially or lyrically interesting, let alone topically-complex. In the end, the best songs on his debut album are the ones that give the audience a break from his voice. This is a major fumble in what should have been his break into a promising solo career, but at this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if he went home to Takeoff and Offset and never left the safety of Migos again.