Review: Takeoff, ‘The Last Rocket’

The Last Rocket may be succinct but lacks the fuse for the missile.

For the Migos, 2018 was a sprint rather than a marathon. As a collective, the trio dominated the charts, stamping the Culture brand for a second year in a row. Proving their capabilities as solo artists also became a must, beginning with Offset’s collaborative album with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin and continuing with Quavo’s Quavo Huncho. Unlike the other two members, Takeoff bears a bundle of pressure on his shoulders to escape from the butt of the “Bad & Boujee” jokes and silence naysayers who believe he is the weak link of the Migos.

On his solo debut album, Takeoff delivers the raps but not the hits. As observed from his performances within the Migos, Takeoff rarely commands a hook, a weakness legible throughout the album. Takeoff opts for the simplicity fans applaud; triplet flows without the Auto-Tune. These raps maintain their integrity independently, but pale in the context of a full-length album intending to create memorable songs with replay value.

The loose space theme is introduced on the opening track “Martian”, immediately setting a compelling expectation, but is a mere placeholder to tie in with the album art rather than a polished concept. Expectations for the concept to continue are hastily swabbed and replaced with consistently forgettable production, the undisputed selling point for a memorable trap album. Though the concept is barely explored Takeoff earns merits for the effort nonetheless, especially when compared to the playlist complexion of Quavo Huncho.

Accompanying the album’s hollow production are nonexistent hooks. Tracks in question include “Lead the Wave”, featuring memorable verses and flows yet a flat, repetitive hook drained of any melody. Quavo’s performance on “She Gon Wink” involuntarily embezzles the song from Takeoff’s grasp, overpowering Takeoff’s timid and short-lived verse. Thankfully, vibrancy is injected in the hooks and verses of “Vacation”. Takeoff’s performance possesses energy, deploying marque flows and charismatic ad-libs (“momma!”).

Ironically, Takeoff’s sole attempt at experimentation results in the pretentious “Infatuation”. The upbeat disco-pop tune is dominated by guest vocalist Dayytona Fox on where Takeoff eventually registers his appearance in the second half. The track is awkwardly outside of Takeoff’s ballpark, posing a guest on his own song. Coupled with its striking similarities to Kid Cudi’s “Enter Galactic (Love Connection)” strips the track of innovation, despite interrupting the rattling trap monotony.

Penultimate track “Soul Plane” narrowly illustrates the potential of Takeoff, incorporating the rapper’s strongest attributes over eerie production (“My pinky ring your savings”). The sweet sound of “Casper” is another welcoming trait, complying to the intergalactic aesthetic depicted by the intro and cover art. Attempted melody throughout “None to Me” adds substance to the song’s skeletal trappings. Such highlights may not provide enough to plaster longevity in replay value, however check the boxes of achievable expectations from an average Takeoff song.

Without memorable hooks and standout production, The Last Rocket is an ordinary trap album that outshines Quavo’s Quavo Huncho though holds no remarkable values itself, revealing Takeoff is in the conversation for best performer within the Migos, but not as the best solo artist. The Last Rocket doesn’t do much wrong, but doesn’t do enough either.

Rating: 5 / 10

Best tracks: “Casper, “Soul Plane”, “Vacation”