Album Review: QUAVO HUNCHO
Head Migos Huncho Delivers Mixed-Bag On Solo Album
Earlier this month, hip-hop trailblazer and cultural icon Quavious Marshall, better known under the moniker Quavo, released his first solo project QUAVO HUNCHO. For the past three years, Quavo, one-third of the rap ensemble Migos, has received a considerable amount of commercial success. It’s been three years since Migos released their breakout single “Versace” (produced by the musical powerhouse Zaytoven), but it wasn’t until their 2016 hit “Bad and Boujee” that the group was given their overdue fame despite so many other artists emulating their Atlanta-flavored trap sound. Since then, Migos have released their newest albums Culture to critical acclaim, and Culture II to an overwhelming amount of criticism. Lately, Quavo has easily been the most busy member of the group, as he has been featured on a myriad of tracks and projects, including a collaborative album with Travis Scott. The announcement of a solo Quavo album sparked discussion among hip-hop fans, with some assuming the album wouldn’t be a success without the other two Migos members Offset and Takeoff, despite most agreeing that Quavo consistently outshines them. Some argued that by releasing an album by himself, Quavo would be cutting off the dead weight, free to blossom into the artistic butterfly many paint him to be. The actual reality of the album? Not half bad!
Fans of woodwinds and hi-hats should rejoice. QUAVO HUNCHO is pretty much exactly what you would expect from Quavo: a solid album full of entertaining and catchy tracks, hooks, and melodies, as well as some filler. The album kicks off with “BIGGEST ALLEY OOP,” a song that is equal parts satisfying both for the body and the soul. On this opening track, Quavo delivers the fatal lines, “…only one mic in the booth (ONE MIC!) / Guess it’s my night to tell the truth (WOO! TRUTH!) / who got the biggest bag in the Room (BAG! BAG!).” With those few words, Quavo has already immortalized himself in the hip-hop hall of fame, but by the grace and benevolence of the head Huncho, he treats us to EIGHTEEN more tracks before ending the first track with some more bars and “skrt” sounds.
The next track, “PASS OUT,” is pretty generic as far as Quavo goes. The atmospheric banger features a guest verse from 21 Savage, as well as some booming 808’s and Quavo crooning in the background. Quavo also says “skr” sixteen times in a row on certain parts of this song (not even exaggerating). Up next is ‘HUNCHO DREAMS’, whose title is an interpolation of Nicki Minaj’s “Barbie Dreams,” whose title is also an interpolation of an Notorious B.I.G. song. This track doesn’t feature anything too stand-out, but it certainly isn’t bad — even Quavo’s filler is still decent. To the dismay of everyone alive Quavo seems to suggest some sort of romantic entanglement with Nicki Minaj in this song, but until either of them confirms their relationship, fans will continue to live in denial.
“FLIP THE SWITCH” once again features some tooting woodwinds and faint crooning, as well as an admittedly weak Quavo verse that listeners will have to sit through in order to listen to a very good Drake verse. Drake delivers some clever lines with an infectious flow such as “Chain wetter than the river you could cry me,” thus somehow outshining Quavo on his own album. The next track “GIVE IT TO EM” repeats the same formula, as the soft and classical piano paired with Quavo’s ambient ad libs act as an appetizer to Bay-Area rapper Saweetie’s brief moment in the spotlight. Following this song is “SHINE” which is certainly an enigma. Here Quavo lazily delivers a few verses around a melodic and catchy hook where he sings “We could make diamonds shine / On the darkest nights.” Despite knowing better, I can’t help but love this song as a Quavo fan. While many hip-hop fans may skip this song halfway through, hearing Quavo say “lasagna” through an auto-tune and reverb laden track makes the day just a little bit brighter.
“WORKIN ME” released earlier this summer as one of three singles dropped in anticipation of this album. A good song to be sure, but not one worth dwelling on too much three months late. The next track, “HOW BOUT THAT?” will sound familiar to many fans of contemporary hip-hop, as it borrows many elements from music made by Quavo’s contemporaries. The song’s chord progression is nearly identical to Travis Scott’s “Impossible” and Drake’s “Elevate,” — good news, because those two songs sound great and Quavo’s talents sound great on the track. Quavo’s ability to harmonize well with background vocal tracks really shines on this track. And Quavo’s singing “yeah yeah yeah” and “woo!” in the background only add to the musical performance. Sadly, after only two minutes and forty seconds, the song ends.
“CHAMPAGNE ROSÉ” is one of my favorite songs off the project because it is such a fever dream of a collaboration between Quavo, Cardi B, and Madonna (yes, Madonna). Just in case you thought the woodwinds were gone, an airy and delicate flute melody plays on top of some percussion tracks, along with Madonna’s very charming but stilted hook/vocal loop. Cardi B delivers a surprisingly solid performance before Quavo’s verse, and then Madonna closes the song out with her own rap verse. Strange world, I know, but it’s the one we’re living in. The next three tracks, “KEEP THAT S**T” featuring Takeoff, “F**K 12” featuring Offset, and “LOSE IT” featuring Lil Baby aren’t anything too special. Offset and Takeoff both deliver solid verses, and for some reason the instrumental on “LOSE IT” sounds like cut Runescape music, or some other low-effort medieval flavored song.
“RERUN” hosts a feature from Travis Scott, and together him and Quavo bless the listener with four minutes of intertwining and mingling autotuned sing-rapping. For better or worse, this song is exactly what one might expect from a collaboration between these two pioneers of modern trap music. The track is atmospheric and large in scale, while also being energy-filled and hype-inducing. There isn’t any new musical ground being broken here, just a solid piece of rap music from two of the genre’s biggest artists. “GO ALL THE WAY” is the Pharrell and Quavo collaboration I never knew I needed, with its loud and bouncy 808’s and kick drums resulting in another highlight on this absolute monster of an album. “LAMB TALK” is a hilarious track where Quavo not only gives the listener a banger to enjoy, but a new anthem to live by. The lyrics are aggressive, emotional, and inspiring, with the chorus repeating “Lamb Talk / Lamb Talk (Lamborghini) / Lamb Talk / Lamb Talk (…Lambo).” This track is solid for all the wrong reasons, as only Quavo could release a song with zero effort to universal acclaim from music fans.
The final four songs are a just like the album: a mixed bag. “BIG BRO” is an uncomfortably sincere track where Quavo essentially offers to be the guardian for the listener, and the new wave of rappers. The track also features an awkward fake phone call between Quavo and himself, so it certainly is not for everyone. “SWING” featuring Normani and Davido is a transparent attempt to capitalize on the latin-pop resurgence in mainstream music, but this is one area of music where Quavo does not shine. His vocal performance is certainly not on the same level as an artist like Bad Bunny, or J Balvin, and the only thing this song does is act as a five minute barrier to the final two tracks. Those patient enough to wait through the song are treated to two more songs however, as “BUBBLEGUM” is a catchy and fun banger that will certainly get some radio play on account of the melodic hooks and verses, in addition to the instrumental that oddly mimics vinyl static over what sound like synths and bell samples. The album closes with “LOST” featuring Kid Cudi and his hums. A slow cut from the album, the track is a bit boring, but Kid Cudi’s hums made it worthwhile.
QUAVO HUNCHO is if nothing else, quintessential Quavo. This album has multiple enjoyable high peaks, while also being plagued with around 6–7 filler tracks. Quavo isn’t an incredibly dynamic artist, and it painfully shows on his nineteen track solo album. QUAVO HUNCHO proves one thing, however: that Quavo is perfectly capable of making a great album (surrounded by eight unnecessary or filler tracks). The album is admittedly bloated, but for Quavo and Migos fans this isn’t a huge problem. At this point in time, most hip-hop fans know whether or not they like Quavo, and QUAVO HUNCHO is only sure to woo over more listeners. With over ten genuinely enjoyable tracks, the album is sure to satiate hip-hop fan’s craving for new Migos music, and with the promise of a Culture III in 2019, as well as solo albums from Takeoff and Offset, it is a good time to be a Migos Fan.