Quality Control Music/Motown Records/Capitol Records
Quality Control Music/Motown Records/Capitol Records

Quality Control’s quantity is out of control in 2018—and that’s kind of the point.

A mere three weeks after partner Quavo’s cameo-crazy solo splash Quavo Huncho, with Migos stans still trying to filter through that project’s ample 19 tracks, the youngest and quietest member of the bando-bred trio hops in a space shuttle and launches his own solo mission with The Last Rocket.

The upstart powerhouse label has been quick to crown 2018 the “Year of the Migos” and from a prolificacy standpoint, that statement is difficult to deny. January’s platinum-certified Culture II gave the Georgia trio its second Billboard-topping LP, their hefty support duties on the Aubry & the Three Amigos tour sold out stadiums all summer and after a round of solo releases, Culture III is on deck for early 2019. “Ain’t never heard ’bout Migos, boy, you must be crazy,” Takeoff spits, accurately and incredulously, on “Vacation.”

The pressing question during QC’s fourth-quarter onslaught, however, remains: Do any of the individual Migos have enough to say that we want to experience them by their lonely, or are their recording sessions best kept a family business? The Last Rocket is a case for the former. With a discerning 12-song, 35-minute run time and refusal to use eye-pooping cameos as a crutch (we see you, Madonna), Takeoff's maiden solo work is more calculated and compelling in its execution than Quavo Huncho—even if smash-single candidates are harder to locate.

The Kennedy Space Center countdown that eases listeners into opening track “Martian” sketches a loose astrological theme but Takeoff is quick to pull back down to the earthly desires of a 24-year-old in the throes fame and fortune: dime pieces, purple escape drugs and designer everything. “And I got 10 different watches/Which one I’m gonna wear, I got options,” Takeoff not-so-humble brags.

Although large swaths of the lyrical content here could slip seamlessly onto a Migos project, Takeoff’s nimble flow and dextrous wordplay is a treat. From a pure rapping perspective, Takeoff is establishing himself as Migos’ most dangerous weapon, for however much that’s worth.

He can hurl verbiage at a breakneck pace (“Soul Plane”), use his verbal energy as a force (“Vacation”) and, once in a blue moon, flirt with real connection: “I miss you so much that I went and tatted your name/Let me be your drug, tell me when you feel in pain.”

The Quavo-featuring “She Gon Wink” and Daytona Fox’s silky hook on “Infatuation,” an R&B crossover with pop potential, are the only occasions where he calls for a vocal assist, and Takeoff’s Scotchy tongue-twisting is typically enough to hold your attention. Of course, the space-trap productions of DJ Durel, Murda Beatz, Cassius Jay, TM88, and others do their part, too.

The triple-time hypnotism of Jay’s “Soul Plane” and the bulldozing thump of Monta Beatz’s “Last Memory,” the lead single, in particular call for car play. On “Lead the Wave,” Takeoff zips a few shots at Migos’s mumble rap copycats. The flute loop Budda Bless lends to “Insomnia” should cause anything but.

With all of its paper- and skirt-chasing, The Last Rocket may not be a giant leap for mankind but it’s more than a small step for establishing Takeoff as something other than the Migo left off of “Bad and Boujee.” —Luke Fox

See Photos of Migos' Different Looks Over the Years

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