Every trilogy needs its final instalment to deliver a satisfying conclusion to make the whole exercise worthwhile. That objective may not have been top of Offset’s list of priorities when he was writing his debut solo album, but ‘Father of 4’ has almost unintentionally become the rapper’s best shot yet at stealing the show from those closest to him.
While none of the three Migos are likely to break rank from their tight unit to declare superiority over the others, hip-hop fans may never have had a better opportunity to decide which member – Offset, Quavo or Takeoff – reigns supreme. Independent releases from each of the Atlanta trio have emerged over the past four months. Quavo’s lengthy debut ‘Quavo Huncho’ came first, but it flexed and bragged far too much. Takeoff’s ‘The Last Rocket’, on the other hand, presented a rare chance to solely appraise the underrated talents of the group’s most phlegmatic member. Yet while the album itself was an intriguing and surprisingly eclectic listen, those qualities weren’t sufficient enough to rid Takeoff of his underdog tag in the long run.
All eyes, then, are on Offset. The past 12 months have seen the 27-year-old become easily the most talked-about Migo, primarily as a consequence of his very public marriage, break-up and reconciliation with his superstar wife Cardi B. Offset’s relationship with Cardi is naturally broached multiple times on ‘Father of 4’ (the title of which refers in part to the couple’s daughter Kulture, who is Offset’s fourth child), whether he’s expressing his gratitude to the Bronx Grammy-winner for “holding me like holsters” on the title track to sampling his own infamous Instagram apology to Cardi on ‘Don’t Lose Me’. He even yields the floor to Cardi on the domineering piano-loop of ‘Clout’, with the latter spraying knock-out punchlines referencing Destiny’s Child and Oscar the Grouch (obviously), demonstrating her show-stopping prowess.
Cardi is just one of the beneficiaries of ‘Father of 4’’s open-door policy to guest features: strong contributions from J. Cole (‘How Did I Get Here’), 21 Savage and Travis Scott (both on ‘Legacy’) are counter-balanced by a disappointingly phoned-in verse from Atlanta rap regal Gucci Mane (‘Quarter Milli’) and an unnecessary warble from the miscast CeeLo Green. Offset’s wisest move in terms of recruitment, though, is the appointment of Metro Boomin (who notably helmed Migos’ megahit ‘Bad and Boujee’) and Southside as executive producers, who together craft a tight and inventive soundboard which keeps the record ticking throughout without ever over-complicating things.
But what of the leading man of ‘Father of 4’? Well, we refreshingly see Offset opening up like never before, with the rapper clearly intent on delivering on his pre-release claim that “I put my all in my album”. Ruminations on the responsibilities of fatherhood are placed at the top of the agenda as he acknowledges his own parental missteps and pledges loyalty to his children: “I’ma keep grindin’ for my kids, never gon’ let up,” he vows on the title track. “I’ma put the money up for y’all; I can’t be selfish.”
It’s a proclamation which evidently comes from an accumulation of experience and perspective, the latter of which was significantly impacted by the near-fatal car crash he was involved in last summer. “I like to throw up when I think about the crash,” he admits in reference to the memory of that traumatic experience on ‘Red Room’. “Not playing: when I hit the tree I smell the gas.” On this album, Offset frequently presents himself as someone willing to count his blessings and, while life may be good to him now, he’s still keenly tied to and respectful of his humble background. The rags-to-riches narrative on ‘Lick’, for instance, sees him lament about being “stabbed in my back a million times, this shit deep,” as well as losing his grandmother and a number of close friends while growing up. These sentimental expressions hit increasingly harder with each return you make to ‘Father of 4’, and, with those repeat listens, the sincerity of its creator becomes all the more credible.
As with most Migos-related projects, a good editor might’ve been a wise addition to the production process – the generic, Quavo-featuring ‘On Fleek’ and the autotuned I’m-gonna-prove-everyone-wrong exaggeration of ‘North Star’ should’ve been cut. Overall, though, ‘Father of 4’ is a fine body of work that builds a convincing case that Offset is currently best-placed to be Migos’ break-out solo star: once again, the final act of a trilogy proves to be the finest.