by Daniel Paskowski
Takeoff’s solo debut The Last Rocket is the most recent release in a string of albums that feature the members of Atlanta trap trio Migos branching out into independence. After their breakout #1 single ‘Bad and Boujee’ from the warmly received Culture, they have wasted no time attempting to replicate their success and, in the process, have saturated the market with their style of music by releasing some of the longest albums to come out in recent memory. Takeoff, who usually has a less prominent role compared to fellow members Quavo and Offset, seizes the pilot’s seat here to lead a project that does not have much, if anything, to offer over an album with the full trio.
The Last Rocket begins with a skit narrating a launch sequence in the opener ‘Martian – Intro.’ It raises eyebrows, and a few questions, given the album’s title and Takeoff’s own pen name. Is he exploring new territory for the Migos by laying down elements for a concept album? Soon enough, we receive our answer in the form of a resounding negation. A couple of skits bookending the album and a NASA bar or two throughout are about the most that it offers, leaving an attempt that is clumsily executed at best and downright confusing at worst since by the end it’s easy to forget that the album opened with this “theme” in the first place.
As the album progresses, it becomes evident that despite his group members’ absence, (save for an unlisted Quavo feature on ‘She Gon Wink’) it is still a Migos album through and through. The subject matter rarely deviates beyond the group’s standard repertoire of material possessions, drugs, and women, such that each chorus of the first five songs straight could reasonably be exchanged for one another. Takeoff switches things up on the sixth track, ‘I Remember,’ but with it he begins a streak of songs with highly repetitive choruses that almost makes you wish he’d go back to the formula of the first five since hearing eight bars, an entire half verse, of the track’s name on repeat is even less interesting.
Old ad-libs and bars about smoking cookie that we’ve already heard on countless songs detract from the album where no innovation is presented on top of them. The opening to the third track ‘None To Me’ gives the hopeful impression that Takeoff might dwell on a different topic – perhaps how his newfound material possessions mean nothing to him in comparison to maintaining the relationships he forged during the years when he was coming up. Instead, on the sole verse he brags about how he can buy any car he wants to and manages to pack in an entire two bars talking about how he can’t explain the way a particular Rolex feels to wear. Many songs feature this simple chorus-verse-chorus structure, which if utilized well would entice the listener back in the future, but here simply relieves the listener of having to sit through the same song for too long.
The most interesting track on The Last Rocket, ‘Infatuation,’ reveals the album’s main issue as featured artist Dayytona Fox manages to steal the show with just a passable contribution consisting of him crooning over retro, synth-laden production. Quite simply, Takeoff is not able to generate enough interest by himself to make even this 38-minute project exciting. He is an effective foil on a Migos album due to his stern delivery and lyrically dense bars that contrast Quavo’s and Offset’s styles, but here they become monotonous and a chore to listen to. Die-hard Migos fans may be able to find some tracks here to enjoy if not for any reason other than Takeoff presents more music that follows the same formula they already love. Ultimately, however, The Last Rocket fails to launch.