Trends. They are known to rise and fall like the waters of the ocean. We, as the purveyors, participators, and producers of popular culture, often find ourselves influenced by someone or something, and the lines of inspiration and duplication can be blurry. Such is certainly the case with hip-hop culture, where many artists are heavily influenced by the work of others.
‘We in a time right now where we setting a trend, we started this whole lil wave, we started the whole genre, we started the whole flow, the whole melody. Ain’t nobody right now who can say they ain’t took our flow at one point in their career.’
Migos is easily one of the most popular rap entities in recent memory, as the Atlanta trio has stayed true to its unique sound since the beginning, gaining legions of fans along the way. As Down South rap has instilled itself as a consistent force in the genre over the last 20 years, new artists have unapologetically drawn inspiration from the South in all aspects of their music, from the instrumentation and production, to the slang and flows in their raps, to their sartorial choices. And Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff can honestly say they have seen their style jacked by the masses. In fact, that’s exactly what they did in a new interview with Montreality on their impact on the rap industry:
“We in a time right now where we setting a trend, we started this whole lil wave, we started the whole genre, we started the whole flow, the whole melody,” said Quavo. “Ain’t nobody right now who can say they ain’t took our flow at one point in their career. We ain’t tripping, we never did trip. Hip-Hop has changed in a big way, we changed it.”
It’s a very bold statement, but he may have a point. From their latest album Culture going number one on the Billboard 200 charts, to singles off the album such as “Bad & Boujee,” “T-Shirt,” and “Call Casting,” to a gang of features, there aren’t many places in modern rap that Migos hasn’t touched. Popularizing the dab with mainstream America, making jingles about bags of chips (which weren’t that bad, by the way)—Migos has surpassed their label as rappers and have turned into true cultural influencers. Going back to one of their earlier hits “Versace,” one can say that Drake has borrowed the Migos flow on wax (though one can also say that Drake borrows a lot of things from other rappers). But looking closer, there is audio proof that artists such as Kanye, J.Cole, Meek Mill, and Jeezy have used that now trademark sped-up flow pattern, which is often referred to as the “Triplet Flow.”
On the other hand, for those who’ve been listening to Southern rap, that flow isn’t necessarily stamped with the Migos logo. Listen to Crime Mob’s urban classic “Knuck If You Buck.” Diamond ran the same rhyme pattern on her verse, and that legendary masterpiece of a song was created in 2004. And there are several other artists that used that template before Migos: Three 6 Mafia. 8-Ball and MJG. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Even Chuck D’s verse on the 1987 classic “Bring The Noise.” It’s clear that the Triplet Flow existed in the rap lexicon long before Migos’ ascension.
While the group’s claim of starting the flow and melody may not be historically accurate, their place as one of Southern rap music’s key leaders does provide some credence to the idea that newer rappers have borrowed the musical style it popularized of late.