Music Reviews

Offset clumsily tries to explore his emotions on “Father of 4”

Offset's solo debut tries and fails to add layers of emotion.

The Migos solo album trifecta is now complete. Offset is here with his debut album “Father of 4” and he wants you to know he’s a family man with feelings. He’s not one of those typical Migos that only talks about sipping lean, smoking weed, and SKRT SRKTing all over town in expensive foreign automobiles. If you’re confused that’s understandable since this is the first time he’s talked about his family or any emotion whatsoever since his career started.

Unlike Takeoff’s album which stuck to the Migos formula or Quavo’s album that swung for the fences and missed horribly, Offset has gone the “emotionally vulnerable” route which doesn’t suit him at all. He’s the least emotive of the group, usually sticking to similar flows and subdued delivery on all his features and Migos songs. But he’s also the best rapper of the group lyrically and flow-wise, so there’s a lot of potential for him to branch out and expand his vision.

I never thought I’d use the words “emotionally vulnerable” and “Migos” in the same sentence but Offset has publicly been dealing with a lot this year. He had (another) child, which I honestly thought was his first since he talks about his other kids less than Drake, he cheated on Cardi B, got divorced then got back together again. For a rapper, that’s about as tumultuous as it gets without going to prison.

Despite the album title and marketing campaign, he thankfully doesn’t fully commit to making only awkward personal statements. The album oscillates between moody trap bangers and emotional auto-tune ballads and there are still plenty of rapid-fire, triplet laden verses, and star-studded guest features to gloss over some of the clunkier, awkward attempts at emotional vulnerability. This is the most candid music we’ve ever heard from the Migos, which isn’t saying much since the second closest is Quavo yelling “MAMA”.

Let’s first talk about what is great on this project. Metro Boomin and Southside provide some stellar production and succeed in making Offset’s performances sound as good as they possibly can. They give the album it’s hearbeat and add some trunk rattling Migos-type beats that give Offset plenty to work with. Metro Boomin in particular has brought his A-game with production that rivals his solo compilation NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES. These beats are just so well crafted and get better with each repeat listen.

The main problem with this album is Offset himself. He delivers some great verses but has the same versatility problem that plagued Quavo and Takeoff’s solo efforts. The songs get monotonous almost immediately despite the varied production because Offset sticks to his formula and refuses to branch out. In fact, the best songs are the collaborations when Offset is more like a feature rapper instead of being center stage. That’s where his sweet spot is, and since he hasn’t added any new tools to his kit it’s where he sounds best. When he starts to get emotional things get weird.

The album kicks off with the title track “Father of 4” with Big Rube (who?) explaining the purpose of the project without any subtlety whatsoever. It reminds me of the intro to XXXTentacion’s last album (the one before he died) where he explains exactly what he’s going for, not leaving any of it up to interpretation. It sets the stage and Offset raps in soft, hushed auto-tune directly to each of his children, telling the story of his life and theirs. His lyrics should have more of an emotional impact but his monotone delivery and straightforward recounting of facts make it sound like he’s reading a historical account of his own life. It’s really dry and boring.

“How did I get here” follows a similar formula which still doesn’t work but at least makes it entertaining. J Cole’s delivers a loud, brash verse with an interesting flow that ends way too quickly and doesn’t cut as deep as his verse on 21 Savage’s “a lot”. Metro’s production on this song is brilliant though. It sounds like a hood funeral procession. It’s dark, spacey, and the echoing keys bring everything together. Again, it’s not what Offset is saying is too guarded or not revealing enough, it’s how he says it. The words clearly make him uncomfortable but instead of exploring those emotions he stiffens up.

North Star is the most effective of the dark emotional songs because Offset doesn’t sound like he’s trying to be something he’s not. His flow is on point, there’s more energy in his voice, and Cee Lo Green (the soul machine) adds a gorgeous outro that harkens back to his Goodie Mob days. Offset could fart into the microphone for the first part of the song and I would still like it, that’s how good Cee Lo sounds. It’s also good to hear from him again after he said those regrettable things about rape.

Offset is much better at expressing anger than remorse most notably on “Clout” which features his on again, off again wife Cardi B. The rapping power couple fire back at their critics and haters and bloggers (wtf) about all the rumors and bullshit they’ve had to deal with and how people make a career off their suffering. It’s a powerful statement and they feel at home on the Southside beat talking shit back and forth.

There are a few Offset solo songs that I really enjoyed. “Tats on my face” has a sinister, simplistic beat with one of the best bass lines I’ve ever heard and Offset raps hypnotically and effortlessly for 3 straight minutes. “Made Men” follows a similar formula with Offset adopting a sleepier flow.

But the real standouts are the collaborations. Offset is much more comfortable letting other artists take the spotlight. “Legacy ” featuring Travis Scott and 21 Savage is my favorite collab on the album. Southside creates a distorted mixtape-like beat and everybody brings their A-game. I especially like the rapid-fire Travis Scott chorus. “On Fleek” with Quavo is a solid Migos song but better because they don’t have to shoehorn Takeoff in there. “Quarter Milli” ft. Gucci Mane is also very enjoyable because Metro knows how to bring the best out of both these guys.

Wild, Wild West makes me question, for the 1,000th time, why people keep featuring Gunna on their songs. How many favors do these artists owe Young Thug? It’s an OK song at first, but Gunna makes the whole thing boring as he sleepwalks his way through it and kills the momentum Offset built up. I’m mostly disappointed because I was expecting a new version of the Will Smith song.

To be perfectly honest I found it hard to finish this review because I just have no passion for this album. It didn’t affect me at all. Some of the songs are pretty good I have no desire to come back and listen. I’m surprised at the huge discrepancy between the deeply personal lyrics and the impassionate performances. Offset’s delivery just doesn’t make what he’s saying believable and instead of being compelling his more emotional songs are straight up boring.

I get that he’s trying to bare his soul but he doesn’t do a very good job. He’s rapping like he always does with more personal subject matter. If you weren’t paying attention to the words you wouldn’t know if he was talking about his daughter or his gun. And if 21 Savage, the least emotional rapper on Earth, can pull off the heartfelt songs on I AM > I WAS like  “ball w/o you” than Offset can as well. But he takes himself too seriously instead of letting his emotions run wild. It feels like he’d tell you to SHHHH if you were in the room listening with him and had the audacity to cough.

There was way more polish put into this project than QUAVO HUNCHO or THE LAST ROCKET but it’s a flawed concept. This is two albums trying to be one, a Migos-like solo album that Offset was probably working on before all of this emotional turmoil and a family-focused trap ballad album that sounds like it was tacked on at the end. The trap-ier stuff is much better because Offset sounds at home. And while I commend him for trying to add a more emotionally vulnerable angle he only half-committed to it and didn’t do anything interesting with it. If you’re going to talk about personal things the performances have to match, and here they do not.

I really hope these solo albums reinforce to the Migos how much better they are together rather than apart and force them to go back to making albums like Culture. Offset is outstanding as a feature rapper but underwhelming by himself.

Final Verdict

6/10

Favorite Tracks: Tats on my face, Lick, Legacy ft. Travis Scoot & 21 Savage

Worst Track: Father of 4

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