It should come as no surprise that Quavo, born Quavious Keyate Marshall, was the starting quarterback for the varsity football team during his senior year at Berkmar High School. Since the summer of 2012—the year Migos released their infectious street anthem “Bando”—Quavo has stood out as the group’s infectious leader; a 27-year-old hitmaker who carries the type of necessary charisma and confidence that a growing celebrity requires. Fans and peers alike gravitated toward the phrase-turning hitmaker, who rather quickly emerged as the trio’s breakout star.
In the six years since Migos released “Bando,” life has been good to Quavo and his Migos brethren, Offset and Takeoff. Together, the three have topped the charts, conquered radio, and crossed over into the magic middle where pop and trap music collide. Yet, over time, both Offset and Takeoff elevated their stature, rising above niche fanfare and proving that more than one Migo had potential to stand solo in the spotlight.
While Quavo has become a feature force independent of Migos, his lukewarm Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho collaboration album with Travis Scott in late 2017, as well as some forgettable guest appearances, have resulted in a noticeable decline in desire to see the North Atlanta QB-turned-MC play a full-length game without his teammates.
On August 10, before the opening date for Drake’s Aubrey & the Three Migos Tour, Quavo released three singles without his nephew or cousin: “LAMB TALK,” “BUBBLE GUM,” and “WORKIN ME.” Each record was met by a complete lack of enthusiasm. After six years and countless records, there simply wasn’t anything exciting about what Quavo was selling. Only “WORKIN ME” scored an entry on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 56.
In the coming months, Quality Control’s trap Voltron will be dispersing to release solo offerings, starting with Quavo’s QUAVO HUNCHO. Capitalizing on the group’s current popularity and their domestic tour with hip-hop’s biggest act was a smart move. But will it be a good move? Can each Migos member carry an entire project alone? Well, we’re all about to finally find out.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. "BIGGEST ALLEY OOP"
We're starting with a choir of women. A change of pace. Maybe this won’t be a bunch of throwaway Migos ideas. I don’t recognize the drop but it sounded like Yachty. It’s a flute-esque trap beat. Think of a clearance sale version of Future’s “Mask Off.” Quavo sounds good. “It’s only one mic in the booth” haha. I've never seen multiple mics in a booth. “I’m not Beyoncé, it’s bigger than Jay.” Quavo said he’s been making beats, no Ye. This record is starting to lose steam, and I’m really questioning if Quavo can keep my interest for almost 20 songs. I need Quality Control to start practicing more quality control.
2. "PASS OUT" ft. 21 Savage
Thank the highest for these features. Buddah Bless came through with a ground shaker. Nice bounce. Not a bad start on Quavo’s end, either. He’s going into a skrt skrt vomit. Man, for a star artist, he’s having a hard time finding the energy to keep me awake. Savage! He’s coming with bars. He should’ve just given this entire record to 21. He ripped this. Rewind the Savage verse for all the namedrops. I hope 21 finds a way to reference Boyz n the Hood in every verse.
3. "HUNCHO DREAMS"
Quavo sampled ATL! Let’s go!!! “Rashad a New New man.” We have to discuss how ATL is one of the most quotable movies to star a rapper. I like the production, but I’m not interested in Quavo’s sex talk. Nahhhhh. He did the “In My Feelings” flow but said Nicki instead of Kiki. Is this song about Ms. Minaj? Stop the madness. I’m crying at the “Straight out the jungle, no Safaree” line. I hope these tears short circuit my iPhone and stop this album forever. I can’t stop laughing.
4. "FLIP THE SWITCH" ft. Drake
I'm praying for a Tay Keith beat. Quavo is using the Juvie “Ha” flow. Not the smoothest rendition. Not at all. Drake is rapping rapping. He really loves a trap beat. I wish this beat had a bit more bite. A good verse but this is not a strong record. I can see why Quavo doesn’t know what his album sounds like; it’s just a bunch of random ideas pieced together.
5. "GIVE IT TO EM" ft. Saweetie
Some dramatic keys. I like this buildup. It’s slower. Never mind. This is just bad. Quavo's flows, bars, and lingo are unbearably trite. I’ve heard it all before. Saweetie, what was that? What was this entire song? We are four skips strong. Someone rip the Drake verse.
A Tay Keith drop! He really has an ear for monster truck trap bangers. “She can make diamonds shine on the darkest nights,” whatever that means. The problem here is that Quavo isn’t really saying ANYTHING. Like nothing. He doesn’t even sound interested in the words he's saying. Quavo used to be great at selling himself. Now, he’s just selling versions of songs that Migos would never try to serve me.
7. "WORKIN ME"
This sounds like a recycled version of “Stir Fry,” but I’ll take an off-brand version after the mediocre records. I like the Young Buck bar. This beat isn’t it. It sounds like something made in a microwave instead of Fruity Loops. “If you want smoke, smoke alarm me” hahaha. Quavo apparently has something that will extinct your whole family so, yeah, the remainder of this review will be positive. Why didn’t Travis Scott executive produce this album?
8. "HOW BOUT THAT?"
I miss Offset and Takeoff. But shout out to Quavo for all of these songs clocking in around two minutes. At least Quavo can practice brevity. OG PARKER! This beat knocks! We finally have a record with some life. There’s blood finally pumping. The production really matters. Everything has to work for Quavo to really give us a strong record. A nice flow switch-up and we're on to verse two. I can hear this being the drunk anthem that inspires couch jumping. Puffy would endorse this while holding a bottle of Cîroc. Come for Quavo, stay for OG Parker.
9. "CHAMPAGNE ROSÉ" ft. Madonna & Cardi B
Madonna and Cardi B? That’s… different. Madonna sounds robotic. Like, what is this? Usually, Migos pick great beats, but I’m underwhelmed by these slappers. That knock is now just a light tap. Cardi! Thank the heavens. She’s skateboard sliding. Courtside stunts. That was far too short. I love the bar about being called Met Gala Gang. Can we get more Cardi? If rap didn't work out, Quavo could've gone into advertising—he knows how to sell a product. Madonna sounds like if you asked Alexa to rap. Did Quavo not pay Cardi to clear the rest of her verse? I swear it was no more than six-and-a-half bars. I don't need this one again.
10."KEEP THAT S**T" ft. Takeoff
I like these keys and snares. The Quavo hum. Yep, this sounds like a Migos record and that’s a blessing. So few rappers realize what does and doesn't actually work. Wow, the quality of this record is light years ahead of what we've heard through the first nine songs. The mix even sounds better. Is that Takeoff doing the ad-libs? They need each other. Everything's better when they're all together. Quavo has found the bag he lost. Takeoff rapping over Quavo’s hum is lifting me to the ceiling. Takeoff and Offset have better rap voices than Quavo. Keeper.
11. "F**K 12" ft. Offset
Malcolm X is on Quavo’s album. I didn’t see this coming. Only Quavo would follow up a Malcolm X clip about race with the lyrics “fabrics, fabrics.” Expensive linen will end racism. I like this drunk flow he has going on. “Get no playing time, Kendrick Perkins.” Offset doing ad-libs. Please never break this beautiful family up. The aggressive “Fuck 12” chant. This song is all over the place. But I love this chant. This is going to ring off at shows. OFFSET! His voice is the right texture for this record. Flow is strong. He’s bobbing and weaving through these keys. “You better watch out for the boys when your black.” Yooo! Let's hear this Offset album. Quavo's second verse is good. He said he gets his bricks from Wakanda and now I’ll never stop laughing. Quavo’s first verse was so POINTLESS. This song would’ve been great without it. A "Hands up, don't shoot" clip. The first "woke" Migos song. It was a roller coaster.
12. "LOSE IT" ft. Lil Baby
We've stumbled into a solid three-song stretch. Video game trap beat. I’m ready to fast forward and hear Lil Baby. Yeah, Quavo fumbled another one. I really like this beat, though. BABY! He came in SMOOTH. He raps like he’s running from the cops. Parole flow. Lil Baby has a great rap voice by the way. It adds flavor to every record he touches like cheese on grits. I’ll take another Lil Baby album @CoachK. Someone remove Quavo from this song for me, please. We have to get Quavo some new life experiences.
13. "RERUN" ft. Travis Scott
The fourth, unofficial Migos member appears. Remember “Sloppy Toppy?” That was a great moment in Migos history. I like this. It sounds like a Travis record. Whoa. Wait! Did these two just pop up with a song that is better than every record on their joint album? Yes, I think they did. What a knock. What energy. Reverb is a little heavy. Quavo rapping over Travis’ ad-libs. Their singing together could be in a Disney movie. How do I still have six songs left? Travis sounds Henny drunk in the booth right now. A functioning zombie. I have no idea what he’s saying. Whatever the hell that was is the new poster child of mumble rap. I don’t know if this is a keeper anymore. It was so good up until he went Walking Dead.
14. "GO ALL THE WAY"
We might have something here. Yes! We have one. Why did it take Quavo forever to make a techno-pop trap song? This is some 1980s coke music. Do a line and go to Vegas music. It’s infectious, groovy, and high energy. Quavo is finally using his harmonies effectively. This man can write when he wants to. I’m so upset this record is buried underneath all the fluff. How was this not the single!? Fire everyone. Every single employee must go.
15. "LAMB TALK"
Quavo is capable of so much more. I’ll forever be frustrated by the ceiling he created for himself by essentially making a throwaway Migos album. Wait, I might’ve been wrong about “LAMB TALK.” I like the beat and this first verse is way better than my first listen a few months back. Sheesh. He really ran off with the flow. Quavo, much like all trap rappers, needs better editors. There are one or two jewels on this bloated Snorlax of an album. This song could’ve used his missing group members but I think I’ll keep it.
16. "BIG BRO"
Dun Deal! I hope all these producers are getting paid. This one is a little different than the previous stuff. It’s a quieter beat. Quavo is being weird with this delivery. He’s making a song about being the big bro of the rap game. It’s almost weirder than the song about wanting Nicki ("HUNCHO DREAMS"). I can’t wait for someone to make a song about how their big brother was Takeoff’s uncle. Ha, the kid calling Quavo about his chain being snatched. “Instagram and guns don’t go right.” Well, there's some truth. The Quavo hum is not the Cudi hum, and that’s the major takeaway from this song and this album as a whole.
17. "SWING" ft. Normani & Davido
I’m interested to hear what this lineup might accomplish. Love the guitar. Another record that proves Quavo should not have spent this entire album making dumpster trap records. It’s warm. The song title is right about the swing. “I don’t care what I drink just keep pouring,” yeah, this is energy. After the success of “Slide,” Quavo should’ve pivoted to pop records. This is money. DJ Khaled has to be upset this isn’t on his next album. Normani sounds great. He might have a hit with this one. Davido is bringing vibes. This trainwreck of an album could’ve been a pop powerhouse. Shame.
18. "BUBBLE GUM"
Another Buddah Bless beat. The production is too good for what Quavo did to it. I wish I could skip this track. How could you hear “SWING” and then make a song like “BUBBLE GUM?” No more, please.
19. "LOST" ft. Kid Cudi
The hums unite. I wonder if Quavo was a big Cudi fan growing up. Loving this buildup. It sounds like his voice is traveling the astral plane. This is… strange, yet interesting. Yeah, Quavo is doing something here. “Accomplished all my goals congratulate me.” CUDI! He sounds good. This is a way better idea than I could’ve imagined. “Take care of my family I know my mama need me.” There's some good self-reflection here. This robotic closing was unexpected.
Final (first listen) thoughts on QUAVO HUNCHO:
When Migos initially broke out, Quavo navigated trap with an effortless ease. Yet, the biggest issue plaguing QUAVO HUNCHO is its author's inability to sound captivating in that very same space without Offset and Takeoff. He has little to say, and even fewer ways of saying it.
In total, Quavo’s 19-track solo debut produces two standout records, which, of course, feature the Migos members he’s supposed to be operating without.
If Quavo is going to make trap music, he requires assistance. It’s hard to hide your flaws when your flashy partners who carry what you can’t aren’t present. Quavo doesn’t have the voice, production, bars, or finesse to carry a bulky album on his back alone. Most of the material on QUAVO HUNCHO would have been better off unreleased.
The most interesting moments on QUAVO HUNCHO—the moments where Quavo shines the brightest—are found on “GO ALL THE WAY” and “SWING,” two records that operate outside of the comfort zone associated with Migos. Tragically, rather than presenting himself more as an individual, Quavo opted to sound like an extension of his group.
QUAVO HUNCHO should’ve been a daring effort into the realm of pop music rather than a collection of recycled, lackluster bangers. A chance to reinvent himself was completely missed. As a quarterback, Quavo should have known he was operating QUAVO HUNCHO with the wrong playbook.
By Yoh, aka Yohavo Huncho, aka @Yoh31
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