Four years after the last Migos split that heralded solo albums like Quavo Huncho and The Last Rocket and only a little more than a year past the trio’s Culture III, a lengthy list of inter-group conflicts and drama has led us to Only Built for Infinity Links, a team-up between Quavo and his nephew Takeoff. Revealed by Quavo in an interview that his desire would be for this new duo to be the standard going forward, Offset’s absence certainly doesn’t cause them to lose any significant part of the Migos magic. Still, despite reinvigorating the formula by basing the project’s sound mostly around Takeoff’s perennially underrated technical abilities on the mic as he finally gets the spotlight he deserves, these two still don’t have much else new to offer from a musical standpoint. The group got the hits they did because there’s something about their unique delivery that’s always going to be fun in the right mindset – and there are some truly fun moments scattered throughout here – but don’t go in expecting more than that.
With everything going on, the attitude we get across the board is revealed when Quavo immediately addresses Offset and Saweetie, shrugs off the ongoing beef, and kicks the party into gear over a wailing soul sample and a heavy trap beat on “Two Infinity Links.” The two rappers are up to the task the beat provides, and Takeoff contributes to the strong start by dropping the album’s most technical verse, switching up the typical triplet flows and speeding things up while still infusing it with a ton of personality. “Tony Starks,” on the other hand, kills the energy as quickly as it began. It seems like the duo are trying to pull off a Metro Boomin-style horror-inspired tracks, but since Quavo and Takeoff have established themselves as such jokesters, they can’t quite pull off the menacing angle and mostly just sound like they’re bored. Still, they each drop a couple hilarious pop culture references along the way. Lead single “HOTEL LOBBY” has to be the most average Migos single of all time, obviously regarded as single status because it was the safest choice. It’s not their strongest beat or performance, nor is it them stumbling while trying something other than what they’re good at. Of course, an average Migos single still makes you nod your head. Producer Buddah Bless, who also worked on the intro, provides what might be the two strongest beats on the project as he continues with a great flip of OutKast’s “So Fresh So Clean” on “Bars into Captions.” We have another duo trying to recapture the spark, and incredibly, they kind of do. Takeoff pays homage to Andre 3000’s verse by offering his own take on a couple lines, while Quavo’s hook is memorable and, as the title implied, truly caption-worthy.
As far as producers go, however, Mustard is the only one to get a credit on “See Bout It.” It’s certainly deserved – the muted trumped fanfare in the back rolls out the red carpet for a party anthem of the highest order and gives space for the most ad-libs, camaraderie and energetic performances on the whole project. Featuring some outlandish lyrics ready to be yelled by crowds, the sheer excitement when they drop some more novel flows just demonstrates that Migos would still be the biggest rappers in the world if they had a little more creativity to go with their endless charisma. “To The Bone” kicks off a weaker stretch of tracks, as NBA YoungBoy completely ruins this one with his feature. It’s not even a great performance from the two Migos – the drums should never be cut behind them – and YoungBoy sounds like an unmusical amateur beside them as he falls off the beat. “Not Out” finds Takeoff doing his desensitized, dead-eyed baritone flows over a beat with some muted flutes, which makes for a track that’s half engaging, and half overdone – though Takeoff’s ad-lib as he gives up counting his money might be his all-time best. “Chocolate,” with its midtempo trap guitars, is equally boring without those redeeming qualities – when you can barely even notice Young Thug on a track, things have gone wrong.
One of the main reasons it seems Quavo and Takeoff often work as a dup is because you could almost consider Offset the middle ground between them – now we have Quavo’s laid-back cool juxtaposed with Takeoff’s eccentric, Busta Rhymes energy. That’s clearly evident on the track “2.30,” where the duo get a Zaytoven beat with synth flutes trilling while offering a Migos classic – delivering a simple message, in this case, their dedication to the Percocet, with the kind of conviction that makes it sound like the most imperative thing in the world. “Look @ This” keeps the orchestral angle going with a piano and violin intro, eventually dropping into a trap beat with a refined-sounding, opulent edge reminiscent of something like Travis Scott’s “5% Tint.” It’s one of the more interesting beats on the album, and one of the only tracks where Quavo outshines his nephew, fitting more into his laid-back wheelhouse. Summer Walker appears on “Mixy” with her typically gorgeous vocals, but if we’re talking about wheelhouses, this isn’t the space for the Migos – their Auto-crooning can’t measure up, and the forgettable melodic track “Nothing Changed” doesn’t raise many eyebrows either. “Messy” is the track where Quavo addresses his romantic drama most directly, and he picked an icy cold beat of shifting synths to sound very passionate about it over – but Takeoff’s “Just pulled a muscle, god damn, too much flexing” singlehandedly sells the track.
You have to start wondering what could have been if Migos didn’t bow to streaming supremacy and instead emulated the success of their original, classic Culture project, trimming things down. The final moments of the project are predictably inconsistent as it stretches to an hour in length. “Integration” has some decidedly strange energy and a whiny hook as Quavo makes a number of puns about racism, while “Hell Yeah” essentially sounds like a freestyle, as they pick a single, titular motif and repeat it too much over an underdeveloped beat. “Big Stunna” and “Us vs. Them” are elevated by respective features from Birdman – who actually drops a verse – and Gucci Mane, who always sounds great alongside Migos members, while “Tools” closes things out with some more strict adherence to formula.
Overall, the novelty of being able to hear a project from two out of the three Migos delivered some quality tracks, as well as a big helping of everything you already knew to expect. If the duo is truly set on continuing into the future together, they’ll likely do the same thing every couple of years – and that’s OK in my book.
Favourite Tracks: See Bout It, Two Infinity Links, Bars Into Captions, 2.30
Least Favourite Track: To The Bone