Hip-hop is in a better place because of Takeoff and his ad-libs, bars and energy. Takeoff brought so much to the table.
Kirshnik Khari Ball, better known as Takeoff, was a member of the rap group Migos. The family affair composed of Takeoff’s uncle, Quavo, and Quavo’s cousin, Offset, molded the path for many rappers in this era to succeed. Takeoff, Quavo and Offset began rapping in 2008, and released their first project, “Juug Season,” in 2011.
Takeoff and the Migos could make just about any topic sound interesting through their unique style. Their perfect blend of chemistry and talent was put on display in a Power 106 FM interview. The rap trio was tasked with rapping the words to a children’s book over the “Bad and Boujee” beat. The finished product is a light-hearted and fun rendition of “Llama Llama Red Pajama.” Takeoff danced and added his patented ad-libs of “Momma” and “Llama” while everyone in the room smiled and laughed.
Despite his incredible rapping talent, Takeoff was regarded as remarkably down-to-earth: someone who didn’t bother anyone. Fellow rapper and Atlanta native 21 Savage echoed this sentiment in a recent interview.
“He was not really in the way,” he said. “He was just always in his own world. He’s really quiet unless he knows you. I ain’t never seen him out of character. He was always the exact same way every time I saw him. He’ll smile, dap you up. Mind his business bro.”
While Takeoff may have been calm and not worried about anyone else’s business except his own, when he got behind a mic, all bets were off. There are viral clips of Takeoff and his personality. What makes them great to look back at is that they are genuine and truly entertaining because he never tried to be something or someone that he wasn’t. His presence on social media was minimal and going viral was not a goal of his unless it had to do with his music.
For example, a video of Takeoff DJing in the Migos’ dressing room made the rounds on the internet a few years ago. Everyone in the room danced and sang except Takeoff, who remained calm while moving slightly as he created a remix of a Quavo song out of the blue.
The Migos first caught their big break in 2013 when Drake remixed their song “Versace.” His version quickly became popular and reached No. 99 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
After this first taste of fame, the Migos released their second album, “Culture.” This marked the point of superstardom for the group, with the album debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. With this meteoric rise to fame, the Migos began to shift the culture of hip-hop.
Takeoff is listed in the credits as a writer for nearly every song that he is a part of. The bars you hear from him are his own creation and not ghostwritten.
After “Culture II,” the sequel to “Culture,” was released, Takeoff put together his first and only solo album. The album was titled “The Last Rocket” and featured songs such as “Casper” and “Last Memory.”
Quavo and Offset both released solo albums around the same time as Takeoff. Although there are more factors that go into determining who the best rapper of the three is, Takeoff proved to be the most capable of creating an enjoyable listening experience throughout an entire solo album. The Migos are the Migos because they bring out the best in each other. But pound for pound, Takeoff was the best pure rapper in the group.
While his technical rapping and wordplay are impressive enough on their own, Takeoff differs from most other rappers because of his style. Adding ad-libs to the background placed emphasis on parts of sentences and rhyme schemes without overpowering the songs themselves.
Sadly, before his true talent could be realized, Takeoff was shot and killed on Nov. 1, 2022, in Houston. Police reported that the shooting occurred after an argument over a dice game. Takeoff was hit with a stray bullet and was not the intended target. He was only 28 years old.
The Atlanta rapper’s funeral was held in the 20,000 seat State Farm Arena in his hometown. The walls of Atlanta, as well as the rest of the world, have been painted with murals honoring the rapper’s life and legacy. This outpouring of love is no surprise based on the reactions of the people who knew him best and the widespread sorrow that followed his death.
Unfortunately, Takeoff’s death is not an anomaly. Many hip-hop artists have passed away prematurely in recent years. PNB Rock, Juice WRLD, XXXTENTACION and others passed away before they reached 30.
Each time, social media is flooded with condolences and statements from those who were close to them. But as more news continues to pile up and life goes on, these names get lost in the shuffle. In a way, we have become numb to their untimely deaths.
Takeoff’s legacy will live on because he was such an influential figure and a great talent. His gift will also live through Quavo and Offset as they perform and remind everyone who Takeoff was and how much he meant to them.