In which the author tries to learn more about one of hip hop’s most valuable properties after their surprise show at EA Play, unsuccessfully.
Migos are one of the most talented, prolific and written-about rap groups of our time. They’ve been called out by Donald Glover in a Golden Globes speech, collaborated with nearly every titan in the hip-hop game, and have a sprawling tour with Drake locked for the end of the year. They’ve even drawn comparisons to the likes of The Beatles for their specific sound and influence on the genre and, more recently, tying them for the most singles on the Billboard 200 simultaneously.
Despite their omnipresence, there’s much we don’t know about them. Who are they as people, and what do they do to keep their heads on during one of the most meteoric rises to prominence of their generation? How does anyone keep their head straight in the midst of success like this?
The Atlanta-bred group—Quavo, Offset and Takeoff for the uninitiated—are keeping those last pieces of themselves to themselves.
“[Making music is] work, but it doesn’t feel like it,” Quavo told Paste after the group’s surprise set at EA Play in Hollywood over the weekend. “Recording is like play for us. It’s serious, but it isn’t.”
All three of the Migos are gregarious and engaging fresh off the EA Play stage, where they played most of their seemingly endless string of hits to a crowd of off-their-heads-excited gamers and a few perplexed parents. They’ve been collaborating with EA in various capacities for upwards of a year, most notably on the soundtrack of Madden 18, and it appears they’re gearing up to engage with the brand further. It’s unclear how, though. They reference their time growing up together and the videogames they played, name-checking Def Jam and Mortal Kombat as favorites.
“Some of the time you’ve got to play, everything else is serious. Life is serious out here, you know what I mean?” Offset says. “We don’t play unless it’s EA. EA, EA, EA, EA.”
Did I mention we’re at EA Play? We’re at EA Play.
I try again. What do they do when there’s a moment to themselves, outside of the music and the parties and the EA popup gigs? Hobbies? Wikipedia wormholes?
“We record. When I’m home, I record,” Quavo says after a moment.
“Sharpening up the tools. Brainstorming, understand? I stay away from the studio too long, I feel like I’m abandoning myself,” Offset adds.
Nope. Migos work. Hard. And it stands to reason—with three studio albums, an EP, eighteen mixtapes and a rigorous touring schedule under their belt since first breaking in 2011, they’re some of the most dedicated artists in the game. They’ve revolutionized the genre, and have a unique recording process that often finds the three recording separately, then pulling tracks together as a group.
“Nine times out of ten, we record by ourselves,” Quavo says.
But like, what do you do, Migos?
Offset holds firm. “The light is on us, so, what’s this you call, the oil lamp?” (“The gaslamp,” offers one of the many Migos and EA Sport representatives watching me try to ask this one question.) Offset snaps his fingers. “The gaslamp, it’s like a gaslamp, just keeping it fueled and keeping the sound fueled.”
Our interview never quite cracks the surface, and that could be intentional—they’re an incredibly talented and influential group, and with that comes their newer role as an equally valuable brand. It’s a corporate event. They just got offstage. I try again, and we circle back around—Migos makes incredible music, Migos has this breakneck-pace lifestyle, Migos play the occasional videogame. What do the Migos do when they’re some of the biggest individual stars in the world and need a moment to themselves, or need to avoid getting a little burnt out?
“You take that ‘burnt out’ word and put it in the trash, we never get burnt,” Offset says, laughing.
“We in the moment. We in the moment,” he affirms.
But when you’re offstage?
“Then it’s time to yourself.”
My quest to find out what Migos do when they’re not being famous is not going well. What they are extremely cognizant of are their fans, a group that has multiplied many times over in the past year and will continue to throughout their ever-expanding North American tour later this year. Due in part to their Billboard chart dominance, a lot of Migos fans skew young. Does that inform how they write now?
“We growing with the people,” Offset says of their fanbase. “If you started listening to me in the same time we started rapping, we’re aging together.”
“We’re the wave,” Takeoff adds.
“You get big brother talk,” Quavo adds. “Whether you like it or not, it’s for the good.”
We’ve got a minute left. I decide to try one last time. So you’re one of the Migos, and you need a moment to take a breath, to recenter yourself. What do you do?
“That’s a good question, I don’t do it a lot,” Offset says. He turns to his cousin. “What do you do in your off time?”
Quavo thinks about it for a moment. “Go fishing,” he says.
Well, it was worth a shot.
Jamie Loftus is a comedian, writer and social media victim of the International Olympic Committee. She’s the creator and star of the Comedy Central online original series Irrational Fears. You can find her some of the time, most days at @jamieloftusHELP or jamieloftusisinnocent.com.