Offset, born Kiari Kendrell Cephus, is an individualist. It’s safe to say every member of superstar rap group Migos is idiosyncratic, but during this current, collective career arc of solo albums, only Offset has successfully created a campaign that centers around the personal.
Only one single—the meditative “Red Room”—preceeds the release of FATHER OF 4, the title of Offset’s oft-delayed solo debut, but based on the tone of his press run leading up to the album’s arrival, there appears to be an emphasis placed on revealing who Offset is, and what he’s been through.
In name, the title is meant to highlight family and fatherhood. These subjects aren’t new territory for the Gwinnett County, Georgia-raised rapper, but exploring intimate topics within a group of three is far different than doing so alone.
“Fuck all that stream shit because I don’t do music for money. It’s my heart. This is what I believe in. It’s my creativity and I do it for the people,” Offset said in an interview with Esquire. Let’s go, then.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. Father of 4 ft. Big Rube DOWNLOAD MP3
Hearing Big Rube on the intro is a beautiful way to begin Friday. His poetry is still so potent after all these years. “A realitysmith” is a great play on words. Loving the bounce. Offset with a touch of Auto-Tune on his vocals. This is nice, meditative and confessional. I love how, on the hook, he mentions that his son will scream if you don’t play his dad in the car. That’s a real fan. “If I don’t ball everything around me fall.” Father Offset is currently my favorite Offset. Keys and strings, is this Metro on the beat? Yep, sure is.
2. “How Did I Get Here” ft. J. Cole DOWNLOAD MP3
Deep down, I wish this album had no features. [Editor’s Note: It was reported prior to the release that the album would have no credited features.] But, another J. Cole feature is something I won’t complain about. Man, these keys are speaking to me already. Production-wise, I’m excited about more moody hard hitters. Metro makes trap beats for October 31 festivities. Some nice honesty from Offset. I wish his energy was a bit higher. Some insightful lyrics mixed in with the swagger and hater talk. Loving all the references to his upbringing. The locations he’s naming is giving the album a setting. Cole! Nice flow, sir. He’s working a lot of words into this pocket. I like how conversational his verses have gotten. It’s very André 3000-esque. This is a good song.
3. “Lick” DOWNLOAD MP3
Build up is pretty cool. The drums are hitting. You could start a Soul Train line with this bounce. Lyrically, he’s keeping things focused and thoughtful in a very Offset way. Loving the beat, the way he raps is such a bonus. This sounds like a trap music confessional. “All the people I robbed I brought them down, I repent,” such an interesting reflection. There’s a maturity here that’s enthralling, but I wish he was better at projecting these emotions.
4. “Tats on My Face” DOWNLOAD MP3
Another blistering banger. Now on the fourth record, I’m hoping he finds some unique ways of using his voice. As gripping as his voice and flow can be when he isn’t assisted by Quavo and Takeoff, it’s very easy to be trapped in repetition. Wait, this second verse is the switch up I was looking for. Energy and style really added to the record. I can see “Tats on My Face” being a fun record at shows.
5. “Made Men” DOWNLOAD MP3
The Rick Ross song called “Made Men” is great, by the way. Offset got the nightmarish trap pack. Southside drums just hit differently. Anytime your eardrums feel like they’re being kicked in, that’s Southside. Not in love with this one, but it does have flavor. Okay, this beat really is jumping on my skin. Offset is a wave rider. His flow, at its peak, walks on water. It’s athletic. A flow that feels physical, moving through the pocket. Keeping this one.
6. “Wild Wild West” ft. Gunna DOWNLOAD MP3
Metro gave him vintage Three 6 vibes. Yo, Offset sounds good, but Gunna came on this record like his voice is dripping in gold. Wow, I did not think he would fit. These two are surprisingly seamless together. Offset is taking off. This is entrancing. The hook is lacking, but everything else is working like a well-oiled machine. Gunna’s verse is good. Happy to say, this album has yet to sound like songs meant to be a Migos project that shaved off Quavo and Takeoff. We’re completely in Offset’s world.
7. “North Star” ft. CeeLo Green DOWNLOAD MP3
Whose vocals are those? Okay, Offset. “I got scars under my sleeves.” He’s talking about the blogs and the media. I’d be down to hear Offset do a blues-esque album as Lil Boosie did. I like this one. A solid switch in tone and textures. Mentioned a lean addiction and how the drank helps him sleep. This one could’ve been a bit more heartfelt. CeeLo! He’s singing his soul out. The choir backing him is sending me up, but CeeLo didn’t give Offset a “Tears Of Joy” performance. Plenty of cool ideas here, memorable, but just not as striking as it aims to be.
8. “After Dark” DOWNLOAD MP3
Building up like a Travis Scott record. Says he was in Paris recording, and then R.I.P to his brother Paris. Sheesh. Now, this is striking. His voice has the same weight that the beat does. Honest, very honest. Is the hook about breaking Cardi’s heart? Hmm, interesting. I wish Offset would let a topic carry through the entire verse. He raps in vignettes like his Migo brothers. This is a good record. Metro killed the beat. These strings are frightening. Someone get Jordan Peele and Metro Boomin together.
9. “Don’t Lose Me” DOWNLOAD MP3
A clip of his apology to Cardi. “I want to be a better person.” This album seems to be themed around facing his past and growing up. Another beat! Woooo! Only Offset would say he misses his wife over a snapping groove. If you want to spill out your soul, yes, please, do it over something I can shimmy to. Metro Boomin, ladies and gentlemen, is the real MVP. Trap finally has it’s 4:44. Someone is going to yell nasty things in my Twitter mentions for writing that sentence and I deserve every single one for that hot take, lol. How much is Metro paying for these strings!?
10. “Underrated” DOWNLOAD MP3
Sounds like we getting back to the bangers. Oh yeah, this is for the trunks. I can already tell I would love this album more if this was a 10 track album. It’s starting to drag a bit. “Underrated” could’ve been left off. It doesn’t offer more than what has already been delivered. No country for fillers.
11. “Legacy” ft. Travis Scott & 21 Savage DOWNLOAD MP3
808 Mafia tag! The first tag I’ve heard all album. Southside tag! Nasty, just nasty. Travis comes in strong. This trio is a strong group. Scott is in his JanSport. “I always talk to myself because it’s only us.” He tagged Offset in and they’re running a poetic triangle offense. Rhyming bando with abandoned did something to my soul. I love how this record is structured. It’s so compelling. 21! His voice was made for this beat. This is a good flow for 21, too. His improvement as a rapper is so impressive. I laughed at the shot at rappers veneers. “You can get shot in the wave cap.” I would never question the authenticity of someone who talks about shooting people with such matter-of-fact conviction.
12. “Clout” ft. Cardi B DOWNLOAD MP3
Keys! These keys! “They do anything for clout.” True, true. Haha, I love how he mentioned Kim K, and made sure to say no disrespect, we love Ye. “I took the crown off the king, like Mike and Elvis.” This is cool, I’m ready for Cardi. The hook has the potential to make for a cool chant at shows. Cardi! She showed up to talk cash shit. She has so much personality, charisma, and presence. It’s officially her song. Sorry, Set. A solid record.
13. “On Fleek” ft. Quavo DOWNLOAD MP3
There are no bad beats on this album. Everyone is hitting. Not gripped by the Offset performance thus far. Both flow and content are on brand. Wondering what Quavo will add… He’s arrived! Okay, he actually sounds more fitting for this one than Offset. “When you get caught turn into singers” was a nice way of saying snitches be snitching. I like Quavo on this more than the songs on his solo album, but it doesn’t hold me.
14. “Quarter Milli” ft. Gucci Mane DOWNLOAD MP3
Length is what really hurts the Offset album. There’s not enough diversity in this record to have 16 songs. Like the Rolls Royce/Casper line. I will say, having the features on the back half gives the latter songs something new to look forward too. Gucci! OH! THIS IS A YES! Gucci’s delivery is something else. Really love the way he attacked this feature. Ran off with the song. That’s what I wanted from Offset, more inventive rhyme schemes.
15. “Red Room” DOWNLOAD MP3
I really like this song. It’s a record that’s slow and contemplative, like really getting into the mind of Offset. I had a feeling the car crash would be a bigger subject on the project, but it wasn’t. That’s pretty disappointing, would’ve been a good topic to really touch on how it changed his life. “Red Room” is filled with imagery that brings you into his world. “I’m a maniac go crazy for the cash.” There’s a depth to this record that is apparent in the album but isn’t done as well it is here.
16. “Came A Long Way” DOWNLOAD MP3
Last song. “Magic for the streets.” Okay, closing strong. I’m happy with ending here. “I won’t let the fame or these chains break the family.” A lot of talk about generational wealth. “Came a long way from the chopper in the car, when I’m on the Norf they treat me like Escobar” is a good hook. One of my favorites.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on FATHER OF 4:
FATHER OF 4 aims to peel back layers of Offset’s story as a father who only wants to provide for his children, and there are genuine moments throughout the long-winded, 16-track affair where the person is separated from the persona. This is noteworthy because the Migos, as a group, are known only for what lies on the surface.
In the process of giving more of himself, though, Offset failed to realize that it isn’t just about what is being said, but rather how it is being said. Stylistically, FATHER OF 4 finds a pocket and doesn’t divert. A sound and mood are created through the production, but by relying on his comfortable and familiar flow, each song sounds like an extension of the previous song rather than a fresh, new record.
If some of the filler songs were shaved off, and a more concentrated effort was made to really driving home the personal narrative of the album, Offset would’ve had a much stronger body of work. FATHER OF 4 is an album of great intentions but lacks in manifesting its ideas into great songs. Once Offset figures out how to emote, sincerely, then he’ll really be on to something.