On June 13th of this year, most of the rap-listening universe was still looking forward to June 18th, the release date for albums from Kanye, J. Cole and Mac Miller. It was a great day for rap, really, with three undeniably solid albums from three very different artists. But June 13th was also the day Migos dropped Young Rich Niggas, a showcase of hooks, catchy triplet flows, spectacular production and surprising depth. In maybe a month or so, that tape will be a bigger deal than any of the June 18th releases. The Atlanta trio of Quavo, Takeoff and Offset (free Offset!), are finally starting to get the national attention they deserve, at least partially thanks to a "Versace" remix featuring Drake.
This week, they hit New York for meetings, shows, interviews. I caught up with Quavo and Takeoff in a cramped Upper West Side hotel room while last year's Batman movie played with no sound.
So it’s been funny how much you caught New York by surprise. Tell us your story.
Quavo: The movement started in north side of Atlanta, Gwinnett county. We just put our own grind together. We turned our money into positive money, just doin what we had to do.
Takeoff: We had our first studio at the house, we just started workin out the house. pushin the music, payin the DJs…
Q: We just had the ingredients.
T: Can’t tell anybody the recipe though. You just have to really grind and push your music.
Q: You gotta be consistant. We’ve always been consistant. Just bein in the club, stayin in the club, stayin in the DJ’s faces.
Who was the first DJ to put you on?
T: DJ Ray G.
Q: He’s our childhood friend. He started locally, then he started goin to Mansion and Obsessions, and once he spread out, we spread out. So big up to him.
What was the first tape that really got attention and traction?
T: That was No Label.
Q: It was our second tape we dropped though.
When was that?
Q: That was last summer. The song that made No Label pop was “Bando.”
“Bando” is that old?
Q: Yeah “Bando” is like like two years old.
The production on that track is so strange and unconventional. Who’s Juvie that did the beat?
T: I grew up with him, that’s my partner.
Q: That beat was sitting on my computer for two years before I even made “Bando.”
That beat’s four years old?
Q: Yeah that beat’s old!
T: Juvie … he still don’t take it seriously even though he’s got a buzz! I been trying to tell him …
What was the next big leap after No Label?
Q: We just kept on working. We made our own little club, every Friday.
T: Just showin' our face every weekend.
Q: It’s that consistancy, hittin' 'em with the same song, comin' in and buying bottles. As long as it looks good and the music sounds good, it’s gonna last.
You guys didn’t feel any jump to the next level?
Q: I honestly don’t know because the movement’s always been so consistant.
T: We’ve had a strong campaign!
I was going to ask if you were worried about releasing the tape (Young Rich Niggas) when you did, around Yeezus and everything, but you really felt like you had your own fans regardless.
Q: Honestly we were gonna drop YRN a month earlier but it wasn’t ready.
Is everything else on the tape besides “Bando” new?
Q: The only new songs was “Hannah Montana” and “Baker’s Man.”
T: Oh, the intro’s the newest one. Produced by Mercy.
How’d you link up with Zaytoven?
Q: I bumped into him at the club and he looked at me like “Hey, I been looking for you.” We literally bumped into each other, I almost knocked over his drink.
Talk a little bit about the Spanish thing, the Mexico thing.
Q: We been doin the Migo thing … we’re from the north side and that’s where all the migos at. It’s the hub of the whole drug thing. If you look at the paperwork, Spaghetti Junction is in Gwinnett county. Ain’t nobody really came from north side so we really put it on our back. And we been running together as Migos since high school.
So there’s a heavy Latino population up there?
Q: Yeah, it’s heavy, there’s a lot of Hispanics up in Gwinnett.
That’s where all the “Adios” and “Pronto” and stuff came from?
Q: Kind of … yeah you could say that.
Selling drugs out of abandoned houses isn’t new but was there a resurgence when the housing market collapsed?
Q: It’s just where we always kicked it at.
T: Some people call it a trap house or whatever …
You guys ever watch The Wire?
Q: Nah we don’t really watch TV like that.
T: We just stick to the music 24/7.
There’s a whole thing about abandoned houses on the show so I figured i’d ask.
How’d you link up with Drake?
Q: We ran into Drake at Birthday Bash when 2 Chainz brought him out.
T: He came up to us and just started naming songs!
Q: That meant something to us. So we told him we gotta get one in. He said if I do something, it’s gotta be “Versace” or “Pronto” so we sent him “Versace” and he went crazy on it.
Why Versace as opposed to other labels?
Q: We always be feelin' like Biggie and Tupac. We like that vintage look. All that gold, the silk, the ancient pharoahs.
Some of that is an homage back to what Biggie and Tupac wore though.
T: Yeah, the shades and stuff.
Q: We do it real old school, but in a young way.
What else does the old school look entail?
Q: You might see me with an MCM bag…
T: Belts …
Q: You might see me with my chest out like Jodeci! (laughs)
T: Gold ropes …
Q: Lotta chains on like Mr. T.
We gonna see you guys with beepers and brick phones?
Q: (laughs) Nah, no beepers.
You guys worked with Riff Raff, did you guys get in the studio with him?
Q: Yeah he’s cool.
T: He goes hard!
Q: I think he’s a nice rapper, I think he can spit, once you put him on the right song.
T: … like “Jumpin out the Gym!”
Q: We got the video coming out for “Jumpin Out the Gym” with Riff Raff and Trinidad Jame$. It’s already shot, it’s gonna be crazy.
You want to talk about Offset?
Q: Yeah he’s the third member of the group. Free Offset!
T: Free Offset, he’s coming home real soon.
Q: … and y’all are missing a big part right now … it’s gonna be a whole other movie when he gets out.
T: Y’all gonna like him too. He’s just like us.
Q: He’s just like us, but he’s different.
Skinny Friedman is a writer, DJ, and cat owner living in Brooklyn. He's on Twitter - @skinny412