As 'Quavo Huncho' overwhelms, solo projects prove to be risky
Everybody wants to be famous. The anonymous want their names plastered on billboards. The blank faces crave their image on a screen. Even stars want to shine a little brighter. Last week, Quavo from Migos released his first, highly-anticipated solo album. The project entitled "Quavo Huncho," debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, behind Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s "A Star is Born Soundtrack." "Quavo Huncho" was met with lukewarm and negative reviews and lacked the magic of any of the Migos albums — including "Culture 2."
The music industry has long predicted that Quavo would spin off from Migos and develop into a solo star. He has the most charisma of his counterparts, Offset and Takeoff, as well as being a paparazzi favorite and fashion pioneer. But the tides may be turning. The spotlight of Migos has often gone in cycles. Recently, Offset has garnered the attention. He recently married reigning best rapper alive, Cardi B — who gave birth to their daughter, Kulture. Offset also released a non-Migos related project titled "No Warning," a collaboration album with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin. Offset’s project, while more critically-acclaimed, did not have the staying power or pop play that the Migos albums have. At one point Takeoff, often seen as the step-child of the group, even had the most coverage.
Migos is a difficult case study in solo success. Its most recent album, "Culture 2," anointed them the 3 Kings of hip hop. The trio works marvelously when firing on all cylinders. Quavo thrives when he hollers bizarre auto-tuned cries while Offset spits in his signature flow. Takeoff’s ad-libs alone make any Migos song listenable. The downfall of "Quavo Huncho" is all the space left on the tracks. They lay waiting for his mates to contribute, leaving the listener just craving to stream any of their better projects.
"Quavo Huncho" is not the first trial in Quavo’s quest for success. He and Travis Scott released "Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho" last Christmas. This mixtape succeeded not only because it was incredibly low stakes, being in-between album cycles for both artists, but because the two compliment one another. Unsurprisingly the best songs on "Quavo Huncho" feature other artists like Lil Baby and Travis Scott — definitely not the Madonna and Cardi B song.
Not every group is Destiny’s Child. Migos, like the Backstreet Boys, TLC and The Spice Girls does not have a de facto superstar, riding out their contract before unleashing their full potential. In other words, Quavo is no Beyonce.
To spin off and catapult into solo stardom a group needs a front man. Migos’ seems to change every few months and sometimes every few songs. NSYNC recognized Justin Timberlake as its leader right before they took off into the stratosphere. The heartthrob tends to help. One Direction birthed two solo careers: Zayn Malik is a moderately successful solo act, while Harry Styles is one of the biggest artists in pop. Camila Cabello managed to create the viral hit “Havana” and leave Fifth Harmony in her rearview. Migos, by its collaborative nature, cannot split.
An interesting method in the art of going solo is the Wu-Tang Method. The Wu-Tang Clan remained a constant collective, but its members all created solo albums in between group records. This allowed for each solo artist, RZA, GZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Method Man and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, to get wildly famous and then contribute to the greater whole. Recently Odd Future has taken a similar path. Although Tyler the Creator had always been the leader, in terms of solo output and attention, other acts blossomed. Before the group disbanded, several solo or duo offshoots put out projects. This allowed for the world to get Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd and The Internet. Perhaps Migos is taking this angle, allowing its members artistic expression in hopes of improving the wider group, and if not they should.
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