Quavo & Takeoff "Only Built For Infinity Links" Album Review

BYJoshua Robinson16.9K Views
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"Only Built For Infinity Links" is a testament to the Yin and Yang-like nature of Quavo and Takeoff's individual styles.

Last summer, the Hip-Hop community witnessed the long-awaited return of Migos. The trio’s fourth studio album, Culture III, arrived three-and-a-half years after the second installment of their fan-favorite album series, and, perhaps more infamously, it also followed the release of Migos’ mixed bags of solo studio albums: Quavo’s QUAVO HUNCHO, Takeoff’s The Last Rocket, and Offset’s FATHER OF 4. Yet, thanks to singles such as the NBA YoungBoy-assisted “Need It” and the bounce-back anthem “Straightenin,” as well as popular album cuts like “Avalanche” and the Drake-assisted “Having Our Way,” Culture III still managed to be met with positive reception and significant commercial success. Having effectively released a comeback album, Migos seemed perfectly poised to recalibrate and find their new place within the contemporary Hip-Hop landscape, but less than a full year later, all of the momentum they had built with Culture III came crashing down once the classic Atlanta trio was hit with breakup rumors.

Although fans and reporters have been picking apart their music and interviews for answers, there is still so much that we don’t know about the internal riff between Offset and his Migos collaborators — from the confirmed cause of the breakup to whether or not they’ll ever team back up as a trio — but for the foreseeable, we do know that Quavo and Takeoff are pushing forward as a duo. And for their first offering, the two Nawfside rappers have supplied fans with their 18-track studio album, Only Built For Infinity Links.

As any well-versed student of Hip-Hop would guess from the record’s title, Quavo and Takeoff’s debut joint outing takes a few cues from Raekown’s highly coveted Ghostface Killah-assisted album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, which was practically a collaborative album in its own right. Like Rae and Ghost’s 1995 classic, the album artwork for Only Built For Infinity Links features two close collaborators at the center of the cover, but in contrast to OB4CL’s striking red and yellow dual tones, Quavo and Takeoff employ a monochromatic look for their cover. The Infinity Links duo also pays homage to Ghostface Killah on the album’s second track “Tony Starks,” and while their album doesn’t bear many other sonic or thematic resemblances to OB4CL from then on out, Only Built For Infinity Links is an album rooted in homage.

On the album’s opening track, “Two Infinity Links,” Quavo and Takeoff immediately address the album’s Wu-Tang-inspired direction while explaining the spin that they put on it, saying, “An Infinity link — see that's the strongest link in the world, by far stronger than the Cuban. It runs in the blood.” Snapping over Buddah Bless’ exhilarating soul chop, Quavo also acknowledges a veteran rap executive who changed his and his family’s lives forever — QC’s own Pierre “Pee” Thomas. “If it wasn't for P, shit, it probably wouldn't be no me (Truе story),” Quavo spits before switching gears to give himself and his fellow Migos members credit for their influential run during the 2010s. “And if it wasn't for me, shit, it probably wouldn't be QC (Uh-uh)/Just some young rich n*ggas, tryna gеt it out the streets (Get it).”

Elsewhere on the album, Quavo and Takeoff also pay their respect for a variety of Southern Hip-Hop legends. “Bars Into Captions” — which is also produced by Buddah Bless — incorporates an immediately recognizable sample of OutKast’s Stankonia classic track “So Fresh, So Clean,” and while Takeoff’s verse is essentially a love letter to André 3000’s iconic performance, the uncle and nephew duo bring their own steeze to the Atlanta staple. Later, on in Only Built For Infinity Links, Quavo and Takeoff give props to Birdman on the frantic DJ Durel and Budda Beats-produced track “Big Stunna,” which boasts a hook that directly references the Cash Money record label executive and features a guest feature from the Big Stunna himself. The following track, titled “Us vs. Them,” highlights Gucci Mane — one of Migos’ earliest believers — with a fiery guest verse of his own, and in the hook, Takeoff even gives a nod to 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ hit single “Many Men (Wish Death).”

Beyond all of the classic Hip-Hop references that are sprinkled throughout the album, Only Built For Infinity Links succeeds due to the sonic identity that Quavo and Takeoff are able to establish over the course of its 18 tracks. While the aforementioned intro track, “Hotel Lobby,” “Bars Into Captions," and the lively Mustard-assisted “See Bout It” warm listeners up to the possibility that a full-length Takeoff and Quavo collaboration album may actually work, the songs stuffed into the middle of the project range from unimpressive to downright disappointing, and that’s largely due to their lack of identity. The NBA YoungBoy-assisted “To The Bone” and the Percocet anthem “2.30,” for example, feel like Offset-less Migos throwaways rather than new Quavo and Takeoff tracks, while tracks like “Not Out” and the Young Thug and Gunna-assisted “Chocalate” are just simply not that interesting. It really isn’t until the final stretch of the project — from “Mixy” to “Tools”— that the former Migos really knock OBFIL out of the park and cement themselves as a viable duo.

“Mixy,” the Summer Walker-assisted album cut, made for an unexpectedly smooth collaboration that found Quavo and Takeoff charting new sonic territory. Engulfed in a moody, late-night soundscape, “Mixy” is one of the few near-perfect tracks on OBFIL that’s actually hard to critique. Quavo lays the groundwork of the track with emotional and ambitious vocals while Summer Walker and Takeoff both deliver scene-stealing verses. It’s a rare occasion where everyone shines equally. As Quavo talks his shit during the outro of the track, it becomes clear that “Mixy” is a bonafide moment on Only Built For Infinity Links, which is crucial, because after the middling stretch from “To The Bone” to “Look @ This,” the album was really starting to lack in great standout moments.

Two tracks later, Quavo and Takeoff strike gold once more with “Nothing Changed,” which easily has the waviest production on the entire album. The spacey and dreamlike beat is both eerie and enthralling, and after Quavo gets the vibe going with some earworm melodies, Takeoff comes through and floats over the Marcel ’‘Mars’‘ Korkutata and DJ Durel-produced beat with ease. Then, in almost comedic fashion, the duo follows up the hard-hitting track with an unlikely banger: “Integration.”

Despite its misnomer of a title, “Integration” is both infectious and considerably conceptual, as the song is divided into Quavo’s “white” half and Takeoff’s “black” half in which they rap about the contrasting tones of their luxurious possessions. Coupled with the use of an audio clip in which a white girl complains about having to turn down white guys, “Integration” is an admittedly funny addition to OBFIL—but the contagious nature of the Atake and Sluzyyy-produced gem is nothing to scoff at. After listening to this record numerous times, “All my diamonds white but I'm not racist” and “All my diamonds whiiiiiiiiiite” are some of the most memorable and fun lines from the whole album.

Following the aggressive energy of “Big Stunna” and “Us vs. Them,” Quavo and Takeoff transition into “Hell Yeah,” leaning back into the subdued vibe that made highlights like “Mixy” and “Nothing Changed” stand out so much. Sort of like a contemporary and acoustic take on Gucci Mane’s “Wasted,” the uncle and nephew embrace white boy wastedness on “Hell Yeah,” and once again, Quavo and Takeoff’s distancing from the expected Migos sonics pays off. The final track, “Tools,” sticks with that aesthetic, and while it’s far from an epic outro or an exuberant victory lap, it’s a song with production — courtesy of the duo’s infinitely linked producer DJ Durel — that evokes the feeling of finality. Furthermore, “Tools” also yields some pretty quotable lines that offer hints as to what the future looks like for the close collaborations, from Takeoff’s confirmation that they are far from finished — “They look at us like leprechauns, like, 'Damn, them niggas ain't run out of luck yet?' (No)” — to Quavo’s reaffirmation of his and Takeoff’s influence — “We'll set the trend, then we on somethin' else, yeah, yeah.”

At its best, Only Built For Infinity Links carves out a lane for Takeoff and Quavo that feels entirely separated from their decade-long work with Migos, and at its worst, you can hear the newfound duo’s growing pains from figuring out how to keep an Offset-less ensemble work interesting. Still, despite a mediocre stretch of songs in the middle of the album, Only Built For Infinity Links is a solid and ambitious debut from Quavo and Takeoff. It's a testament to the Yin and Yang-like nature of their individual styles, and it will be intriguing to see where the duo goes from here. 

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