It’s 2017, so non-Drake rap artists are allowed to have follow-up hits now! Skrt skrt!
Jibril Yassin: Anyone that tells you Quavo is the only one that matters in Migos is wrong. End of. Thankfully, CULTURE has proven an effective Migos Separatist deterrent and “T-Shirt,” one of its firing salvos, is great because you get to see just how fantastic Migos are now that they’ve dropped their namesake flow and have opted to just ride over what could be the best beat of 2017. Takeoff’s stutter flows, Quavo’s leaned-out background humming, Offset’s melodic verse — there are enough highlights to fill a list. If “Bad and Boujee” can be considered the first great Migos song, here’s the second, no debate.
Alfred Soto: Takeoff punches monosyllables like he’s thumbing texts. Over a foundation of click track, piano line and organ, Migos interject barks, woos, hey, vocodered uhhs — anything approximating spontaneity and improvisation and for all I know keeps them awake.
Maxwell Cavaseno: The unfortunate aspect of “T-Shirt” is one of the biggest albatrosses of Migos: Quavo. Quavo is not the most adept rapper in the group (Takeoff) or the actual star (Offset) but he got to be the earliest standout in Migos rise. After being benched to allow space for Lil’ Uzi on “Bad & Boujee,” Takeoff getting a chance to frolic with Quavo’s flow of the day and do his usual twists and turns is enthralling, as he finds a number of pockets to play with in the swamp mists of Nard & B’s production. And who sounds more enticing than Offset’s bizarre cryptid-like autotuned wails? However the focal point is the SAME BULLSHIT FAKE GUCCI MANE FLOW Quavo’s been milking since fucking “Bando” that he uses when he isn’t doing it in triplet, which really drags us down. I guess now that it’s Migos Comeback season, we also get Quavo thinking he should rap like it’s 2014 again. BAH.
Thomas Inskeep: Back in the day, no one had coke raps better than Clipse; in 2017, Migos might well own that title. “T-Shirt” is simple and sharp: Nard & B and XL keep the track stripped-down (I love that heavy synth bass), and Takeoff, Quavo, and Offset’s verses are each their own, easily distinguishable from each other’s. Even though all three of them are riding the same beat, they manage to sound entirely individual. Not as ear-grabbing as “Bad and Boujee” maybe (though it’s close), but still a standout single.
Joshua Copperman: One of my favorite things anyone said about “24K Magic” last year (I don’t remember who, though) was that Bruno Mars sounded like even he couldn’t believe that he was getting away with “Uptown Funk” 2. I feel a similar way about Migos and this song – Migos are getting away with doing the same thing they always do but on a bigger budget, and they’re clearly aware of how incredible it is that this silly underground rap trio has inadvertently taken over the world. When Quavo starts crooning “mama told yooooooouuuu”, he sounds amused by the gloomy, likely expensive effects on his voice, and the enthusiastic adlibs sound even better against the glossy production. While I can’t say I’ve always understood the massive popularity of Migos, “T-Shirt” is infectious enough that even I’m not entirely immune.
Anthony Easton: The anxiety of late capital, with the baroque word play — the slang and puns held against each other, the anxiety of figuring who has what, fractured into an angular and quite aggressive frame work. It’s hostile in its angular beauty, and a deepening of a genre that has proven more fertile than it might have seemed at first glance.
Rebecca A. Gowns: Hypnotic use of autotune and undulating tones. The lyrics are simple, and delivered staccato, but there’s a sneaky cleverness underneath that makes you do a double-take. Haven’t heard a better ode to a t-shirt in a long time.
Adaora Ede: In 2017, the shiny and garish Migos of “Hannah Montana” and heck, remember “Versace”?, has 360ed into the cold and chic Migos (and Lil Uzi, Gucci Mane etc.) of Billboard topping hits. “T-Shirt” sounds like your mom’s preferred version of Travis Scott: production team Nard & B do a precise job of turning the bass up and sloooooowing it down. The Migo Boys slither across the slowed down trap- Takeoff is matter of factly with his verses as if to atone for his absence on “Bad and Boujee”, Quavo gives us triple threat, cooing, hypemanning, lackadaisical spitting, Offset ties up with one melodic verse that parallels the cadence of “Antidote”. Given that braggadocious odes to the struggles of social mobility has to be my favorite subset of rap music right now, I think I’ve finally accepted Culture era Migos. I mean how can you not? Quavo’s hook reads like a mantra, every (MAMA) word (TOLD) emphasized (ME) by (NOT) the (TO) syllable (SELL) and (WORK) just meant to be ingrained in your mind.