Migos might be a big part of music culture today, but they were almost not a part of anything. After two years of charges since the 2015 Georgia Southern University incident in which they not only performed an hour and a half late but were caught in possession of drugs and firearms within a school zone, all three members were released on plea deals—but not before inciting a riot in the prison and courtrooms. That’s just a little taste of the trap rap family trio known as Migos, made up of Quavo, his nephew Takeoff, and his cousin Offset.
Migos were previously most famous for their 2013 hit “Versace,” in which the group says the brand “Versace” seemingly ad nauseam, as well as their 2014 single “Hannah Montana,” which, you guessed it, follows the same monotonous template. I thought after that we had seen the end of Migos, but I was dead wrong. Sure, artists like Young Thug, Future, and the return of Gucci Mane didn’t mean “high-brow” trap was going to be a reality for 2016, but it meant that I could possibly get something good out of it (sadly I didn’t).
Then came “Bad & Boujee.” It was already a #1 hit on Billboard before it got the Golden Globe shoutout from Donald Glover (Migos was featured in his award-winning show Atlanta), but he certainly helped get the group onto Jimmy Kimmel the following week, and promote their sophomore album Culture.
I’ve mentioned a certain opinion I hold about trap music before, but I can’t help but speak my mind about it once more upon hearing Migos. Many people have told me before that “people don’t listen to club music for the lyrics,” and that the words are often “drowned out” over the beat in their minds, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be.
Last week I went to a bar that played all of Kaytranada’s record, 99.9% and everyone was dancing, just like they would to any other club banger such as “Bad & Boujee.” The difference however, is that Kaytranada’s music doesn’t contain any lyrics like: “beat the hoe walls loose” or “big dyke hoe, get the doe, Macy Gray,” which are both lines from “Bad & Boujee.” That is to say that this isn’t to make a point of pedestalizing Kaytranada’s music, but it is to make the point that the #1 song listened to in the country right now contains both of those lyrics and even more that I didn’t include, not to mention the entirety of the record.
I happen to enjoy trap rap production a lot, and have enjoyed songs that employ it, for instance, Metro Boomin produced “Bad & Boujee” and the production is great. The song is just garbage, and it’s solely because of the lyrics. Plain and simple, there is no rule that says that danceable music has to be misogynistic, drug-ridden, womanizing, violent, and disrespectful. That night at the bar that played Kaytranada’s record is case in point. Chance the Rapper is case in point. Anderson .Paak is case in point. Danceable music can also have great lyrics.
Artists like Migos, Young Thug, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, and the list goes on, are getting away with mind-numbing lyrical material that includes celebrating misogyny and violence that go on to become the #1 songs in America. If we don’t all agree that “fuckin’ on your bitch she a thot” is a sentence that shouldn’t be normalized as an acceptable way of speaking to women, then our music won’t be the only thing that suffers because of it.
Update (2/8/17 2:00pm): As if being misogynistic and violent wasn’t enough of a reason to prove why artists like Migos shouldn’t be anything close to #1 artists whose lyrics permeate the zeitgeist of what is considered acceptable thought, in an interview published by Rolling Stone just this morning, Migos added being homophobic to the list.
When asked what his favorite thing about Atlanta was, Quavo responded “diversity.” It’s a great thing to have and love about your city… except when you hypocritically don’t accept it yourself. The topic of diversity prompted the interviewer Jonah Weiner to mention how great it was that iLoveMakkonen, an MC and producer also from Atlanta, was receiving tons of support after coming out as gay, something that has been especially difficult to admit in hip-hop/rap, a genre that included homophobic slurs as insults just 15 years ago in the heated Jay-Z vs. Nas feud. One could say that those were different times, and that it’s been 15 years, but clearly it hasn’t been for everyone.
Migos responded with surprise to the news that Makkonen was gay:
“Damn, Makonnen!” Quavo bellows after an awkward interlude…”they supported him?” Quavo asks, raising an eyebrow. “That’s because the world is fucked up,” says Offset. “This world is not right,” Takeoff says. “We ain’t saying it’s nothing wrong with the gays,” says Quavo. But he suggests that Makonnen’s sexuality undermines his credibility, given the fact that “he first came out talking about trapping and selling Molly, doing all that.” He frowns. “That’s wack, bro.”
The interview continues from there, diving into “a day in the life of Migos,” but I couldn’t read past their blatant homophobia, just tacked right into the middle of the interview like any another comment they had. All three of them, not just one, had said that Makkonen was now essentially less credible as an MC and producer solely because he is gay, as if trapping or making hip-hop music in Atlanta were mutually exclusive from being gay. The message they just sent their audience was: being gay is a weakness, and you’re not a real rapper if you’re gay. I wonder what Donald Glover thinks now.
Atlanta, a city loved for its “diversity,” should no longer champion Migos, and neither should the rest of the music world, but I haven’t seen any real backlash yet, not even from Makonnen. The saddest part isn’t that people still have these thoughts, or that homophobic people can sit at #1 on the charts and sell millions of records. The saddest part is that there will likely be little to no reprimand or negative outburst regarding these comments from Migos. Please prove me wrong.
Update (2/8/2017 5:18pm): Migos have released a statement regarding their comments from the Rolling Stone interview (above).
Despite reacting by questioning why people would support Makonnen coming out as gay and saying that it was because “the world is fucked up,” Migos now claim in a twisting of words that they quite feel the opposite in what I can only call bullshit.
Update (2/8/2017 5:30pm): So far, only Atlanta star Lakeith Stanfield has commented, tweeting “Time to be honest. Migos are garbage,” but has since deleted the tweet. Luckily, Complex grabbed it in time here.