Music Reviews

QUAVO HUNCHO falls well short of expectations

5/10 - Quavo and his guests prove that he's better suited as a compliment.

Quavo AKA Head Huncho AKA the leader of the superstar rap group Migos is here with his first solo outing, looking to prove that he’s a breakout star. Quavo began planting the seeds for his solo project around 2015 when he started popping up on features left and right. By the time Culture dropped, Quavo was turning into a bona fide star. He had platinum hits with Travis Scott, Post Malone, and countless other chart-topping artists. Offset soon followed his lead, but from the outset, it was clear Quavo was the Axl Rose of the group (I guess that makes Offset slash, and Takeoff is…Duff McKagan) Like Justin Timberlake or Phil Collins, he seemed to be outgrowing his counterparts and needed to branch out on his own. At least, this was the narrative put forth by music bloggers like me and a majority of the internet as we clamored for Quavo to drop a solo project. Now that it’s here, is it the definitive statement we all were expecting?

Short answer, no. At least not this time. While Quavo sounds more versatile and slightly more energized on this project, he struggles by himself. QUAVO HUNCHO has an over-reliance on mediocre features, a lot of half-assed concepts, and the droning auto-tune and ctrl+c/ctrl+v lyrics start to become a slog as this album stretches to 60+ minutes. That’s not to say it’s all bad. There are some legitimate bangers on here and I have to admit that the production is phenomenal. Murda Beatz, 30 Roc, Tay Keith, Pharrell and a host of others do their best to elevate the mediocre material with moody, spacey, groovy trap beats that sound fresh and knock hard. Unfortunately, Quavo struggles to bring these songs to life and opts for dropping repetitive verses and predictable melodies that would feel at home on old Migos mixtapes or songs that were left off Culture and Culture II. It might be that I have Quavo fatigue after the 19 track, 69-minute (nice) marathon that he’s put together but the materials becomes blander the more I listen.

Even with the laundry list of guest stars to help him out, QUAVO HUNCHO loses momentum pretty quickly. Without the rest of the Migos, Quavo has to compete with standout solo artists and he just doesn’t have the versatility to keep up.  A project like this is supposed to be s definitive statement on his prowess as a solo artist. If anything this cements Quavo’s position as a great role player.

The production values are there but there is a noticeable lack of focus throughout. The album kicks off with BIGGEST ALLEY OOP, an over the top anthem replete with singing choirs and an absolutely filthy flute sample on top of some booming trap drums. It’s a decent opener, with Quavo doing what Quavo does and dropping braggadocious lines with auto-tuned adlibs. Solid track, but things start to get repetitive almost immediately. SHINE, HOW BOUT THAT, BIG BRO, BUBBLE GUM, GO ALL THE WAY are all interchangeable songs with expensive trap beats and hood platitudes that do very little to distinguish themselves from one another.

HUNCHO DREAMS is an attempt at trolling/viral marketing that’s just plain confusing. What exactly was he trying to accomplish on this song? Is it a straight up diss? That would be understandable considering his groupmate Offset is married to Cardi B, but why? Barbie Dreams was a tongue and cheek diss track similar to 50 Cent’s “How to Rob”, this seems like a response to a joke that Quavo didn’t get.

Quavo’s friends, and there are a lot of them, do their best to help him out (10 of the 19 songs have features, some of them have more than 1 artist). With this many features, Quavo isn’t exactly exuding confidence with his abilities as a solo artist. Especially when the guests surpass Quavo’s contributions in every way possible. “PASS OUT” ft. 21 Savage isn’t a bad song on paper, but the chorus is half finished. He raps Offset’s part from Bad and Boujee (“hoo hoo hoo”) then fills the rest of the song with “skrt skrt skrt skrt” for, I’m not exaggerating, 20 seconds. And he does it twice. 21’s verse doesn’t help matters as he murders Quavo on his own track. Same with FLIP THE SWITCH which features one of the laziest Drake features in existence. He sounds like he’s falling asleep, the song is short (thank Christ), and Quavo’s attempt at a Juvenile 400 Degreez flow is the one semi-saving grace. Madonna brings a surprisingly great and unexpected feature to CHAMPAGNE ROSE that unintentionally brings attention to how one-note Quavo is.

F**K 12 (ft. Offset), KEEP THAT S**T (ft. Takeoff), and even LOSE IT (ft. Lil Baby) sound like Culture II rejects. The Travis Scott feature RERUN is actually pretty enjoyable and would’ve been one of the better songs on HUNCHO JACK if it were included. The appropriately titled SWING swings and misses so horribly that I can’t imagine the thinking behind it. It’s a dancehall/African sounding disaster that should’ve been aborted during its production and is one of the worst songs I’ve heard this year. Even Kid Cudi can’t save this thing. On LOST he drops a decent verse but his voice is auto-tuned to shit and turned up way too loud on the mix so the whole thing sounds like a screaming robot…why do this? It seems like most of these features were added hastily and without much forethought. When you throw talented people on these beats it’ll sound OK on the surface but without direction, the songs start to fall apart on multiple listens.

At the end of the day, this is something the fans wanted and Quavo delivered. The problem is you shouldn’t create projects just for the sake of creating them. There should be some inspiration that drives your music instead of your next payday. It sounds like Quavo made a solo album just so the fans would shut up, like he was checking a box. HUNCHO JACK, JACK HUNCHO suffered from this forced fan service as well. If you’re going to create an album, make something worthwhile. Don’t throw out an uninspired, half-assed album recorded on tour just to capitalize on social media metrics. Just because people want something doesn’t mean you should make it. Fans are dumb, masses are asses, and artists should do things independent of what we think, for better or worse.

Overall, I didn’t like this record very much. There are plenty of songs to play at parties and vibe to but like 21 Savage this record has no heart. It’s a record that was born from fan service, and the disconnected, mixtape feel and lack of creative spark is evident. At the same time, this is what I’ve come to expect from the Migos, so I’m not sure what I envisioned for this project. I was hoping Quavo would take more chances instead of becoming more entrenched in the tired Migos formula. Ultimately, QUAVO HUNCHO does the exact opposite of what it intended. It shows how Quavo’s contemporaries are still miles ahead of him creatively, he’s not quite ready for the spotlight, and he really, really needs the other Migos.


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