WHO IS THE ALPHA MIGO?
Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff have all shined, but there can only be one alpha-dog
The most complicated aspect of the three-man hip-hop group has always been the delicate balance of skill between each member. No rap trio has achieved greatness without an established hierarchy comprised of an alpha-dog, sidekick, and third banana. For Run-DMC, it was Run (alpha-dog), DMC (sidekick), and Jam Master Jay (third banana); A Tribe Called Quest had Q-Tip (alpha-dog), Phife Dawg (sidekick), and Ali (third banana); Geto Boys, Scarface (alpha-dog), Bushwick Bill (sidekick), and Willie D (third banana).
The most famous rap group on the planet — Migos — is an exception to the rule. The Migos’ food chain has constantly changed throughout their rise, as each member of the Atlanta trio (Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff) has ascended to superstar status. In a way, the group draws comparisons to the Thunder’s Big Three (Durant-Westbrook-Harden) in the early-2010s.
In 2016, following a streak of stellar guest verses, Quavo, a la Durant circa 2010, became the group’s alpha-dog; later that year, “Bad and Boujee”, like Westbrook’s performance in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals, solidified Offset’s superstar potential, before a heat-check during the second-half of 2017, much like Westbrook’s breakout season in 2013, placed Offset in the same tier as Quavo; and with last week’s release of Culture II, Takeoff — just as OKC’s third banana Harden had done in the 2012 playoffs — proved he isn’t Migos’ weak link, but a star in his own right.
Although Migos has mastered the balance of power, every rap group has to have a numero uno. And so, let’s find out which Migo is the best in Migos.
Who is the most famous Migo?
Quavo was the first, most-recognized Migo, reaching superstar status by making a name for himself under his own rap moniker, in large part because he carried so many of the group’s early hits. At the time, Quavo was the Beyonce to Migos’ Destiny’s Child. After breaking through with “Bad and Boujee”, Offset matched, if not usurped Quavo in celebrity-status, linking up with the hottest rappstress alive, Cardi B. And yet, Quavo is still THE star, if only because of his movie-star charisma EDGE: Quavo
Score: Quavo (1) Offset (0) Takeoff (0)
Who Won Their Breakout Hit “Versace”?
Quavo benefits from singing the hook and laying down the first verse; with “Versace” being the majority of hip-hop fans’ introduction to Migos, Quavo is the first voice we hear, and thus, is the first voice we’ll forever associate with Migos. Takeoff comes in next with arguably the best bar-for-bar verse on the track, and easily one of the most underrated of his career; and finally, Offset anchors with a verse that, while solid, pales in comparison to the rest of his discography. Not that it matters much, since Offset is responsible for creating the “Versace Flow” used on the track, a flow that would experience widespread use across the genre after the song went viral. EDGE: Offset
Score: Offset (1) Quavo (1) Takeoff (0)
Which Migo has the best birth name?
Quavo was born Quavious Marshall; While this would be a great name for a star football or basketball player, it doesn’t induce an element of surprise like the other Migos’ names do, because Quavious isn’t much different than Quavo. Offset was born Kiari Cephus; It’s not a great name, in that Cephus is two letters away from sounding a lot syphillis, which is not fun. Lastly, Takeoff was born Kirshnik Ball; Kirshnik is unique, if not bizarre, which makes it perfect, and anyone with the last name “Ball” is born a star. EDGE: Takeoff
Score: Takeoff (1) Quavo (1) Offset (1)
The Nate Dogg Award for The King of Hooks
Takeoff killed the hook on “Fight Night”; Offset, on “Bad and Boujee”. Yet, there’s no question which Migo is the Godfather of hooks; that would be Quavo, undisputedly. On nearly every one of Migos’ biggest hits, notably, — “Versace”, “Hannah Montana”, “Handsome and Wealthy”, “T-Shirt”, and “Slippery” — Quavo lays the smack down. EDGE: Quavo
Score: Quavo (2) Offset (1) Takeoff (1)
Your Rapper’s Favorite Rapper
With all due respect to Quavo and his rapping ability, the two best rappers in Migos are Offset and Takeoff. That being said, who takes the top spot? It’s not much of a debate. While Takeoff’s tone and lyrics are superior, Offset is better in seemingly every other category. Simply, Offset is the most versatile rapper in Migos, mastering the ability to switch flows, tempo, and cadence mid-verse.EDGE: Offset
Score: Offset (2) Quavo (2) Takeoff (1)
Best Performance on a Migos Song
The easy choice is Offset on “Bad and Boujee”, what with the group’s biggest hit effectively acting as an Offset song featuring Quavo and Lil’ Uzi Vert; Your second thought is probably Quavo, because he reigns supreme on a collection of Migos’ greatest songs; Surprisingly, though, Takeoff wins the award. Since its release last week, Culture II has been heralded as Takeoff’s coming-out party. It’s interesting that it took us this long to jump on the bandwagon, since Takeoff’s crowning achievement is his performance on 2014’s “Fight Night”, which was, at the time, their most-popular single since “Versace.” Over one of the best beats in Migos’ catalog, Takeoff plays the hook-plus-first-verse role, making the song entirely his before Quavo even has a chance to counter. What makes the track perfect is Takeoff’s unique baritone; it wouldn’t have been the same, let alone half as good, if Quavo or Offset handled the hook, which is why it’s the most impressive performance on a Migos song. EDGE: Takeoff
Score: Quavo (2) Takeoff (2) Offset (2)
Master of the Guest-Spot
From June 2016 to June 2017 Quavo submitted one of the greatest heat-checks in recent memory. He became the most prolific feature in all of hip-hop in 2016, guesting on Kanye’s “Champions”, Travis Scott’s “Pick Up the Phone”, Young Thug’s “Guwop”, Meek Mill’s “The Difference”, Post Malone’s “Congratulations”, and Gucci’s “Floor Seats”; last year, Quavo cemented his crossover potential by appearing on songs alongside pop-stars Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Liam Payne, as well as collaborating with two of the biggest names in Electronic music, Calvin Harris and Major Lazer.
If 2016 was the Year of Quavo, the torch was passed to Offset in May 2017. On Gucci’s “Met Gala”, Offset had the best feature of the year, kick-starting a sixth-month run where he would wash Drake on Metro Boomin’s “No Complaints”, lay waste to 21 Savage and Nicki Minaj on London on Da Track’s “No Flag”, and single-handedly carry Juicy J’s “Flood Watch”, Cousin Stizz’ “Headlock”, and Ski Mask the Slump God’s “With a Vengeance” to popularity. The moment Offset claimed the ‘best hip-hop feature’ title belt, though, came on “Patek Water”, the stand-out song on Future and Young Thug’s collaborative album Super Slimey. Alongside the only two Atlanta rappers more popular, and arguably, better, than Migos, Offset laid down the best verse on the entire project.
And so, Is Quavo or Offset the King of Features? The best way to answer the question is to re-visit Calvin Harris’ “Slide.” When the song was released last year, it was surreal to see Migos featured alongside Harris and Frank Ocean. Hearing the ultra-poppy beat for the first time, I expected Quavo to carry the load once he came in for an auto-tune-soaked verse. Instead, Quavo’s eight bars were essentially an intro for Offset. In the anchor role, Offset never sounded more polished, laying down arguably the best 16-bar verse of his career. EDGE: Offset
Score: Offset (3) Quavo (2) Takeoff (2)
King of the Ad-Lib
Ad-libs are as important to a Migos song as the lyrics themselves. Takeoff’s “TAKEOFF!” tag is the best lead-in of the three members, while on “Bad and Boujee”, Offset came through with a careers-worth of next-level ad-libs (THOT, WHOO, COOKIE, DRIP); but, Quavo is in a league by himself. If you need evidence, listen to his feature on Drake’s “Portland”, which finds Quavo deploying his go-to “SKRTT SKRTT” masterfully. EDGE: Quavo
Score: Offset (3) Quavo (3) Takeoff (2)
Greatest Solo Potential
Quavo, on star power alone, probably has the most potential as a solo act; and Offset’s “Monday” is the best solo track that any Migo has released; but Takeoff has the highest ceiling, if only because he’s the least-known and most-raw of the three. We already know what Quavo sounds like across every genre, while Offset’s style shows signs of fatigue. Takeoff, though, has evolved as an MC with each Migos release, close to becoming a superstar in his own right. EDGE: Takeoff
Score: Offset (3) Quavo (3) Takeoff (3)
Who’s the MVP on Their Biggest Hits?
We’re dead-locked, with each Migo winning three categories. And so, the only way to determine the alpha-Migo is to determine who was the MVP on each of the Migos’ top-ten songs. To make things fair, only tracks featuring all three Migos were considered, meaning we’ll have to remove the following: “Hannah Montana” (sorry, Quavo), “Fight Night” (sorry, Takeoff), “Pipe It Up” (Sorry, Quavo), and “Bad and Boujee” (sorry, Offset).
That being said, here are the group’s ten-highest charting songs that include all three members, and the MVP of each — “Versace” (Quavo), “Handsome and Wealthy” (Quavo), “Cocoon” (Offset), “T-Shirt” (Takeoff), “Slippery” (Quavo), “Call Casting” (Takeoff), “Get Right Witcha” (Offset), “Motor Sport” (Quavo), “Stir Fry” (Quavo), “Supastars” (Quavo).
Quavo comes out on top with 6 MVPs to Offset and Takeoff’s two each. If we combed through their entire discography, the gap between Quavo and his peers would be greater, and thus, Quavo is the MVP today, tomorrow, and forever. EDGE: Quavo
Final Score: Quavo (4) Offset (3) Takeoff (3)
Alpha-Migo — Quavo
Featured photo by Taylor Jewell/Getty Images for Vogue