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Quavo - QUAVO HUNCHO Music Album Reviews

The proper, widescreen debut from Quavo is filled with passable, professional songs that pale when compared to nearly any full-length Migos record.

This was always inevitable. The laws of physics and commerce and Spotify guaranteed, from the moment they vaulted into stardom, that the Migos would try to conquer the world as solo artists. From the jump, Quavo was thumbed as the breakout star. His voice was (and is) lighter and more slippery than Offset’s or Takeoff’s, and he seemed better-suited for the rap/R&B hybrid songs that have dominated the charts for much of this decade.

The truth is that Quavo’s early lurches into solo work were uneven at best. He laced 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane’s excellent 2017 track “Good Drank” with a very good hook and turned in a superb verse for Travis Scott and Young Thug’s “Pick Up the Phone,” and has also been grafted onto sure bets by Post Malone, Lil Yachty, and DJ Khaled. But his collaborative album with Scott last year was a quickly-forgotten dud, and his true solo efforts have so far have been merely fine, tepid, there.

QUAVO HUNCHO, the proper, widescreen debut, sees Quavo trying to shoulder long stretches of a 66-minute record by himself. What the experiment yields are passable, professional songs that are barely moving and pale when compared to nearly any full-length Migos record, including this year’s Culture II—which, flab aside, was a showcase for the trio’s interplay and 2+2=5 alchemy. By contrast, QUAVO HUNCHO is flat and nearly anonymous.

There are a couple of deeply bizarre successes, though. “FUCK 12” calls on Offset (and Malcolm X, and a disembodied voice shouting lyrics from Boosie’s “Set It Off”) for a woozy, hallucinatory anti-police anthem. The following song, “LOSE IT,” features yet another star turn from Lil Baby, and “CHAMPAGNE ROS´´É makes excellent use of Cardi B and, quizzically, Madonna. But the collaborations on QUAVO HUNCHO are, almost uniformly, stronger than the tracks without guests. Quavo’s voice works best as a foil for others, and the competition seems to bring out the best in his writing: On the Drake duet “FLIP THE SWITCH,” Quavo gives his take on the Juvenile “Ha” flow, making for one of the album’s more interesting passages.

The production comes from a smattering of stars and near-stars in the Migos extended universe: Dun Deal, Murda Beatz, Buddah Bless, Wheezy, Tay Keith, WondaGurl, etc. It’s darker and muddier, with less snap or playfulness than can be found on either Culture installment. In a way, this is good: The grim feel is a welcome counterpoint to Quavo’s voice, which tends to waffle and warble rather than force the listener to lock in and engage with it. Unfortunately, amid the competent-if-indistinct beats are a few inexplicable clunkers. The worst offense is the Pharrell production “GO ALL THE WAY,” which is so digitally glitzy that it sounds like a video game where the final boss is a teenager who buys and resells Supreme to pay for more Supreme.

At least QUAVO HUNCHO is not a complete trainwreck—it works fine as a stopgap or as background music. It sounds like license-free 2010s trap, for which there always seems to be a market. But it is so ordinary, so uniquely uninspiring that it makes it difficult to imagine a solo work from Quavo that would truly grip our attention (or our club nights or car stereos). The gap in quality between the collaborations included here and the solo songs is a gulf. The interplay of voices is sorely missed, as are the more consistently engaging pens that Takeoff and Offset provide. At least the cover art is great.

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