Looking Back at Takeoff’s Transformative Career
As one-third of the rap group Migos, Takeoff embodied a calm and effortless cool. He’d quite literally float over any beat, serving as a generative force behind Migos’ signature sound — snappy and ebullient trap anthems, equal parts menacing and playful.
Born Kirshnik Khari Ball, Takeoff was nothing if not consistent throughout Migos’ rise. Before his tragic death on Tuesday, he’d told interviewers that he was ready to receive the recognition he deserved. In photos, it’s clear that Takeoff played a bigger role in the spirit of the group than he let on.
The “Quiet” Member Of Migos Was Magic On The Mic.
The world awoke to heartbreaking news this morning as Takeoff, a founding member of the wildly influential hip-hop trio Migos, was shot dead in the early hours of November 1 at a bowling alley in Houston. He was just 28 years old.
Born Kirshnik Khari Ball on June 18, 1994, Takeoff was the youngest rapper in a group that included his uncle Quavo and cousin Offset. His tragic death comes mere weeks after he and Quavo released Only Built for Infinity Links, their first album as a duo.
While Takeoff and Quavo had reportedly been feuding with Offset, and the future of the trio seemed uncertain at best, there’s no denying the massive impact Migos had on music over the last decade.
Recommended:Migos Rapper Takeoff Dead at 28, Shot in Houston
Takeoff, Who Was Best Known For His Part In The Popular Rap Trio Migos, Has Died Aged 28 After Being Shot At A Bowling Alley In Houston.
Formed in 2009, Migos popularized the triplet flow, created a bouncy new cadence, and helped to cement Atlanta’s place as hip-hop’s epicenter. Back in 2014, fans started declaring Migos “better than the Beatles,” and it wasn’t all generational trolling. Migos energized their audience and pushed the parameters of their genre much in the same way the Fab Four did 50 years earlier.
If Takeoff was a Beatle, he might’ve been George Harrison, the so-called “quiet one” whose contributions to classic songs are sometimes overlooked. Quavo was generally heralded as the group’s leader, and Offset—the husband of Cardi B—was arguably the most famous member.
Takeoff was more mysterious. He’s not on “Bad and Boujee,” the group’s chart-topping trap anthem from 2016, and on 2018’s ad-lib-packed Culture II album, Takeoff had the fewest memorable exclamations. But when Takeoff was on the mic, he made an impression.
If Takeoff Was A Beatle, He Might’ve Been George Harrison, The So-called “Quiet One” Whose Contributions To Classic Songs Are Sometimes Overlooked
“Take been spitting bars,” Quavo said in a 2018 interview with Beats 1. “In my opinion, he’s the best one out of all of us.” In honor of Takeoff’s incredible career, we’ve put together a list of the Top 5 songs on Genius, as measured by pageviews, that feature his inimitable rapping.
First on the list, with more than 4.5M pageviews, it’s “MotorSport,” the lead single off Culture II, the anticipated follow-up to 2017’s landmark Culture. A Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, “MotorSport” features Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, both of whom grab the mic before Takeoff. So do Quavo and Offset. But when Takeoff finally steps up for the fifth verse, he brings the goods. Right out of the gate, he paints a vivid picture of himself evading the police in luxury footwear.
Claiming the No. 3 spot, with 2.7 million pageviews, is “T-Shirt,” the third single off Migos’ trailblazing 2017 Culture LP. Produced by XL Eagle and Nard & B, the song lets each Migos member showcase his unique flow over a sparse, warbled beat. Putting aside his group’s signature triplet cadence, Takeoff mimics the instrumental’s stop-and-start sound for his verse. He keeps his eyes on what’s most important to him—money, success, and family—despite all the noise from haters, copycats, and fakes.
“T-Shirt” may have followed close behind Migos’ smash No. 1 “Bad and Boujee,” but the song still got its time to shine. It climbed to No. 19 on the Hot 100 in 2017, and it has become the second-most streamed song on Culture, with more than 432 million streams on Spotify alone.
With over 2 million Genius pageviews, Migos’ 2017 Gucci Mane collaboration “Slippery” takes the No. 4 spot on this list. Produced by Deko and OG Parker, the Culture cut finds each Migo deftly holding his own alongside fellow Atlanta legend Gucci Mane. Takeoff closes out the song, and his signature ad-libs provide punchy flair to his classic laid-back flow and lyrics about all the legal and illegal goods he has to offer.
“I May Sound Like I’m The Oldest, But I’m The Youngest.” , RIP Takeoff
Takeoff knew his ability to masterfully switch between styles was a large part of what made him stand out from the other Migos. “I can go slow, I can go medium, I can go fast,” Takeoff explained in an interview with The Fader. “We all have different voices and ways that we come in and out of the song. I can go deeper. I may sound like I’m the oldest, but I’m the youngest.”
Rounding out this list, at No. 5, is another Gucci Mane collaboration, “I Get The Bag” (1.6M pageviews). This time, Migos hop on a Gucci track off his 2017 LP Mr. Davis. The song rose to No. 11 on the Hot 100, becoming their second link-up to crack the Top 40. Only Takeoff and Quavo spit on the track, but the full Migos energy is present—partly due to Takeoff’s return to a classic, braggadocious triplet flow. He spits the first verse, where he name-drops everyone from Kris Jenner to Jimmy Kimmel.
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Back in Migos’ heyday, fans and critics liked to argue about which member was the best. These conversations are bound to continue, just as they do with the Beatles, but there’s no debating the fact that Takeoff was a crucial part of Migos’ sound and success.