The initial plan, according to a tweet posted by Offset in September 2022, was for his second solo album to drop in November of that year. But on November 1, his fellow Migo and brother-in-arms Takeoff was murdered outside of a Houston bowling alley. The tragedy hit Offset hard; the trio of Takeoff, Offset, and Quavo had become the preeminent rap group of the 2010s through the sheer force of their chemistry, lifelong friends and relatives whose respective talents kept each other on their toes. If Quavo was the showman and Takeoff the glue, Offset was the wild card of the bunch, introduced to the world by the “Free Offset” T-shirts his partners wore in early videos while he served time in Georgia’s DeKalb County Jail for a probation violation. He could also be a scene-stealer, the lyrical force behind the group’s first and only No. 1 hit, “Bad and Boujee.” Four years after his debut solo album, 2019’s FATHER OF 4, SET IT OFF is a portrait of a rapper who has challenged himself to evolve rather than rest on his laurels. “My whole mission for this album was to not get caught up in ‘I’m that guy,’” Offset told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “I feel like sometimes when you get caught up in that, you create the same thing because you’re comfortable in that element.” By now he’s a father of five, healing from the loss of his friend and bandmate while navigating a solo career and the stressors that come with his high-profile marriage to Cardi B. (She appears twice on the album, stealing the show on the Three 6 Mafia-sampling “JEALOUSY” to spit, “Bitches don’t wanna go Birkin for Birkin/Bitches ain’t got enough hits for a Verzuz.”) There’s the requisite odes to exorbitant flexing with help from Future, Latto, and Chlöe, where Offset’s voice is as sharp and percussive as ever over beats from Boi-1da and Vinylz—producers he’d yet to work with before now—alongside the usual suspects like Southside and Metro Boomin. “I use the A&Rs to [my] advantage,” he told Lowe. “I feel like a lot of people talk down on the A&Rs, like you don’t need them. But they bring you another element that you wouldn’t have thought of.” The album’s standout moments happen when the rapper lets his guard down. “Keeping all of this to myself ain’t healthy,” he warbles on the understated “HEALTHY,” and on “SAY MY GRACE” he wonders: “Ask God why I didn’t get an answer/Why I lose my brother to bullets?/Why I lose my grandma to cancer?” Much ink has been spilled over what appears to be the end of the Migos in the aftermath of Takeoff’s death, a subject Offset addressed poignantly. “It can’t be a group, because our main member is missing,” he said to Lowe. “It’s just like, for us, we can’t continue that way. But even on my own journey, I still feel his presence and his energy, like, ‘Bro, we got to go hard. This ain’t the end of it.’ I just keep that in my mind and just keep pushing.”

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