Migos is a hip-hop trio from Lawrenceville, Georgia, comprised of family members Quavo, Offset and Takeoff. Known as purveyors of trap music, the group has ignited global trends like the dab — the head-dropped arm-bent dance — and their mixtapes and videos have gone viral. Among their notable hits are "Versace" and "Bad and Boujee."
Migos: The Fab Three of Trap
“They’re the Beatles of this generation… There’s a generation of kids — like, the YouTube generation I came up with — that are growing up on something that’s completely separate from a whole group of people. That song, Bad and Boujee, is just fly. There’s no better song to have sex to.”
So spoke the actor and musician Donald Glover at the Golden Globe awards on January 8, 2017. With these words, he sent the internet into meltdown — and "Bad and Boujee" to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, officially ordaining Migos, the trio from Lawrenceville, Georgia, as hip hop’s hottest property — the Fab Three of trap.
How Old Are Quavo, Offset and Takeoff?
Migos are a family affair. They are two cousins, Quavo, 26, and Offset, 25, and Quavo’s nephew Takeoff, who at 22 is just four years younger than his uncle. Purveyors of trap music, the bass-heavy Southern variant of hip hop, Migos are renowned for their distinctive offbeat “triplet” rhyming style — rapping to a frequency of just three beats in a standard 4/4 time signature — copied by Kanye West and Drake, among many others. Migos’ mixtapes and videos have been going viral — igniting global trends such as the dab, the head-dropped arm-bent dance — since 2013; now they have exploded into the mainstream.
Growing Up in Georgia
Quavious Marshall (Quavo), Kiari Cephus (Offset) and Kirshnik Ball (Takeoff) were all born and raised in the sleepy suburban town of Lawrenceville, Georgia. They grew up together. Quavo’s father died when he was four years old; Takeoff and Offset’s fathers both left when they were young. So Quavo’s mother, a hair stylist, often looked after all three boys in her small house. The boys all called her Mama, but “she was the father figure,” Quavo told Rolling Stone in February 2017. “She knew how to raise you as a man.”
The three boys had different personalities. Takeoff loved wrestling and used to practice in a makeshift ring in the back yard. Quavo was obsessed with marine documentaries on the National Geographic Channel — though he was also a star quarterback at Berkmar High School. Offset played football, too, but his short fuse repeatedly got the better of him — as a result he ended up at military school.
Quavo and Takeoff began rapping early, the former recording mixtapes as Crunk Boy by the time he was in the eighth grade. His classmates did not see his potential. “Everybody laughed at me,” he told XL Magazine in May 2014. When Offset spoke up in support of his cousin, Quavo persuaded him to try rapping, too. The following year, in 2009, the trio had formed their first group: Polo Club.
But rapping was not their only extracurricular activity during high school. The lyrics of their song "Bando" detail their involvement in the drug trade — a “bando” is an abandoned house where drugs are sold and/or manufactured. As Offset told Rolling Stone, making music “took dough,” which they needed not only for expensive recording equipment but also for clothes and jewelry, so they looked the part.
What Is the Meaning of Migos?
Their eventual band name, Migos, is also thought to be a reference to a drug house, although a more innocent interpretation is that it is an abbreviation of “amigos,” of which there were famously three.
From the Bando to 'Versace'
Migos dropped their first download-only mixtape, Juug Season, in August 2011. They have released a further 14 mixtapes, as well as two studio albums, since then. Their strong childhood bond created an innate understanding between the three rappers that fuels a prodigious work-rate: they allow each other just 15-20 minutes to record a verse, which helps explain the urgency in their sound. They are also renowned for littering their lyrics with pop-culture references — everything from Malcolm in the Middle to Hannah Montana — the result of all those hours they spent as teenagers working inside the bando with the TV on.
Their song "Bando" became a local hit in 2012 and caught the attention of Zaytroven, the Atlanta producer and collaborator with trap-superstar Gucci Mane. Zaytroven began to work with Migos, and introduced them to Kevin “Coach K” Lee, who became their manager. In June the following year Migos released their mixtape YRN, which featured Gucci Mane among its guests, and which appeared on a Billboard chart for the first time — reaching No. 74 on the US Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart. Their big breakthrough came in October 2013 when Drake — whom they met at an Atlanta Hot 107.9 birthday bash — contributed a verse to a remix of their song "Versace," which propelled the group into the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, albeit at No 99. The song became a bona fide pop-culture phenomenon: the eponymous Italian fashion label used it to close its Milan fashion week show; Justin Bieber posted a video online of him singing the lyrics.
'Yung Rich Nation'
Migos’s first studio album, Yung Rich Nation, was released on July 31, 2015, on the independent label Quality Control Music, co-founded by their manager Kevin “Coach K” Lee. By now, Migos were touring extensively and commanding a fee of $40,000 for live performances (a figure that has since doubled). But at the time of the album’s release, their line-up had been temporarily reduced to two: Offset was in jail.
Trouble had been stalking the group for some time. In March 2014, they had exchanged gunfire with another vehicle while on the road in their van near Miami, according to Rolling Stone. Then in April 2015 Quavo and Offset were arrested on guns and drugs charges at Georgia Southern University, where they had been booked for a gig, after police officers smelled marijuana coming from their trailer. Also arrested was the Atlanta rapper Rich the Kid. Quavo and Rich the Kid were fined and sentenced to community service — but Offset, who already had a criminal record, received an eight-month jail sentence. “When you’re young, black and successful, cops don’t like that,” was manager Kevin Lee’s interpretation of events. With Offset in jail, Quavo and Takeoff teamed up with Rich the Kid on the song "Free Offset," released in September 2015, though his freedom did not come until December that year.
Offset was arrested again in July 2018, after being pulled over for what was reported as an "improper lane change" while driving his Porsche. Following a vehicle search, he was charged with possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. His lawyer called it an "improper arrest" and said the rapper would have his day in court.
'Bad and Boujee' Goes Viral
On October 28, 2016, Migos released "Bad and Boujee," the lead single from their then-forthcoming second studio album. The song — about “cooking up dope with a Uzi” — was already an internet phenomenon by the time Donald Glover name-checked it at the Golden Globes in January, sending it to the top of the Billboard chart; it received 2.4 million YouTube views in a single night after his speech.
Culture, Migos’ second album, came out on January 27, 2017. It featured guests DJ Khaled, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott and Lil Uzi Vert. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 131,000 copies in its first week, and was certified platinum three months after its release — by which time, "Bad and Boujee" had accumulated nearly 350 million YouTube views.
In April 2017, Migos made a guest appearance on Katy Perry’s single "Bon Appétit," and were reportedly working with Liam Payne, formerly of the pop band One Direction — another act that has been compared to the Beatles. At the top of their game, the three amigos suddenly seem to be here, there and everywhere — getting by with a little help from their friends.
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