There was a chance this could’ve been an unbearable thinkpiece about how we chew people up to spit memes out; about how a week’s time is a throwback and six months can go forgotten; about how we’re so dependent on the next hit that we forget about the first ten; how even a current hit can feel irrelevant; about how we go from ignoring someone while alive to making them a trending topic after death; how we turn outsiders to art to caricature to trash; how we shouldn’t treat real-life situations like The Highlander; about how Atlanta isn’t a fetish.
Instead, this is a concert review of Migos and Rich the Kid's show at New York’s Irving Plaza.
You probably know the Migos. Maybe you listened to “Bando” early on; maybe you found them when Drake swooped down and Versace’d their remix, maybe you saw Vice’s Thomas Morton ask them if “molly” was the same as “Miley Cyrus” as they roamed the kitchen of their country club mini-mansion, holding guns. Even if you don’t, the dab – a dance move credited to them but really created by their former shooter and current show opener Skippa da Flippa – has been desecrated by everyone from Cris Carter to kids at the most recent GOP debate. Oh, and try finding an Atlanta rapper or Complex reader who can put a sentence together without the Migos’ help: “finesse,” “plug,” “juug,” “bando,” “pipe it up,” all them.
But life moves pretty fast. If you don’t juug around once in a while, you might miss it. The Migos occupy a very weird place in music's current landscape. They have become Maxim magazine: present but invisible, popular but not cool. (Actually, maybe they’re on the verge of becoming T-Pain, creators of a sound that ends up passing them by.) In the past five months, Migos have culled together 30 million YouTube views— pretty good! But in the same timeframe, Young Thug has a light 150 million, Future has dropped two number-one albums and a mixtape, Kevin Gates sold a gang of albums, Yo Gotti released “Down in the DM,” and even Lil Yachty (who is barely a rapper) is somehow getting buzz. All of this shrinks their space even further.
So, in this crucial moment, you’d hope their live show would put them back on top, give people a reason to root for them again. But alas.
Their opener, Rich the Kid, came out, all high energy, a Red Bull cartoon yelping about “fuck it I'm back on the dirty Sprite / I'm catching the plays like Jerry Rice.” He was a whirligig of motion, backed by two traveling dabbers; a juggling act that moved like Saturn, a blur of gold hair, chains and wrists. And that’s when the Migos walked out, sleepwalking. Unfortunately, saying the three have stage presence is to mean they were quite literally standing on a stage. Takeoff was practically catatonic, at one point breaking his thousand-mile stare to approximate a bird with his fingers. Really, they moved like Sims characters, bobbing in place, as if controlled by someone who had walked away from the console. At least their lyrics— multi-syllabic, technical masterpieces, where they reference everything from Gullah Gullah Island to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – were kept intact. Watching Offset fully dive into his verse from “Fight Night” is something to behold: he doesn’t take a breath. But he also doesn’t need to. Because he doesn’t move. It was only when Rich appeared at the end of their set, for “Trap,” that they were released from the invisible bonds that held them in place. Honestly, Bob Dylan could've been onstage, sitting on a stool.
Maybe none of this matters; they sold out the venue and people knew the words to most songs (several of which were off their latest mixtape YRN 2). The nice thing about the Internet is that nothing ever disappears and everyone is only one hit away from being the most popular thing ever. The bad thing is that— because most everyone has the same access to the same things— your spot can be taken by anyone. You can't be better than The Beatles once you can't hold a grip. If there can be a horrible metaphor one can draw from their stage show, it's that absolutely no one can take their place. Because they’re already standing in it.
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