Quavo & Takeoff Talk Going Back to Their Roots for ‘Only Built for Infinity Links’ Album: ‘It Feel Like We Starting All Over Again’
It’s a new era for Quavo and Takeoff. With the Migos chapter at least temporarily closed, Unc & Phew went forward by returning to their grimy roots, in order to recapture the essence of what made them two-thirds of the ATL trio that shifted the sound of hip-hop in the mid-2010s.
“A lot of artists might get caught up in that space, but you got to go back to what you started from and what you know,” Takeoff says over Zoom. “It’s okay to try different things, but you just got to bring it back to what got you to where you at now.”
Quavo and Takeoff pressed reset, headed to the bat cave, and started with a diverse mood board featuring their favorite duos, like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and didn’t come back up for air until they finished “that Picasso.”
For the first time in a long time, Huncho and Take were free of distractions, and it wasn’t about the ice they were rocking or the luxury car in the driveway, but making “bando music.” If you let Quavo tell it, it was like he was right back home at the 530 house on Atlanta’s Northside.
“It feel like we starting all over again,” Huncho gushes while walking around his mansion. “It feel like something new, and you know you [going] in the right direction.”
The finished product, Only Built For Infinity Links, arrived last week (Oct. 7) — with Raekwon’s blessing, given the title reference — and the joint album is looking at a top 10 debut on the Billboard 200.
Get into the rest of our interview below with Quavo and Takeoff as the fellas sum up the Culture series’ legacy, share Kobe stories, and explain why Huncho wants Jack Harlow as his next joint project teammate.
What was the mindset for you guys coming into recording Only Built For Infinity Links?
Quavo: We just broke it down and wanted to be very aggressive. I think starting with taking it back to the essence [and how we] came up with the title. We had a mood board and put a lot of pictures together. We put a lot of dynamic duos up. We didn’t want to come out there on some regular collab s–t. We wanted to make this look like a movie.
Takeoff: We been had records. We were supposed to drop the project a minute ago. Me and Quavo was gonna drop a duo project, but we pushed it back for Culture III. We stayed cooking up.
How was it getting Raekwon’s blessing? Was there talks of him getting on a record?
Quavo: I wasn’t thinking about a record, but we was thinking like a skit or something like that. It’s fun. We came up with the album title and then ran into him in the club. We was looking for him, and I think Take reached out to him and we saw him on ground in Atlanta.
You guys said, “It runs in the blood.” What does that mean as far as this album?
Quavo: Blood thicker than friendship. Me and Takeoff — Unc and Phew — this my nephew. When I say run in the blood, it’s deeper than rap.
What were the advantages of recording as a duo rather than a trio? Quavo, did you pull anything from the Huncho, Jack sessions that applied to this?
Quavo: Nah, I feel like this was going back to the roots of what I do. Doing other songs with other people, I feel like that’s taking the sauce somewhere else. I feel like when it gets down to me and Take, it’s an automatic link that automatically syncs like a Bluetooth phone. We can go win championships elsewhere, but when we come back and get together, it’s like six, seven, eight rings.
It’s like when LeBron came back to Cleveland. Do you guys feel more proud of this album than your others?
Takeoff: Personally, I feel like it, because we had to work hard. We went back in that bat cave. Dirty, grimy, no cut and scruffy — just ain’t even worried about nothing. Just in that basement cooking up, going in, editing and coming back like, “We got it right here.” Then come back a day later like, “Yo, nah, we need to bounce this off of this.” Those changes made the album. You think you got it and then you keep painting that picture until you come up with that Picasso.
A lot of the album rollout saw you guys comparing yourselves to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as a duo. Those are some big shoes to fill.
Quavo: No it ain’t, I got big shoes too! Them our OGs, so anything less than would be like, “What the f–k are you doing?” We get it from them.
Takeoff: I got Mamba Mentality too. Anything less than would be disrespectful.
Did you guys ever link up with Kobe?
Quavo: Absolutely. I seen Kobe at an Atlanta Hawks-Lakers game, and I think a month later he passed away. I think that was one of the last times he was in that building. I met him and he was straight authentic. I feel like my life was straight complete when I met him.
One of my partners had tears in his eyes. Like we said, them our OGs, and coming from a spot with no father figure or no real dad in the hood, we look up to those athletes, those Kobe Bryants, those Michael Jordans, those LeBron Jameses, to get some type of motivation. Outside looking in, even though you watching on a TV screen. It’s the mentality, the way he work, the way he put in work and go at people about work is all something that I really take pride in, using his methods. It’s a blessing to have met the man.
Takeoff: Kobe was in that gym when nobody was in that gym. You wasn’t in that gym with me, and you wasn’t in that basement with me, and we stayed cooking up that whole time, perfecting our craft and sharpening our tools. We in that basement 24/7, and we actually got a studio in our house. We wake up and go right downstairs.
Quavo: We had just bought a factory. A place so high it’s on the moon.
“Bars Into Captions” does justice by the Outkast sample. Speak to using the “So Fresh, So Clean” beat and turning it into your own.
Quavo: I just wanted to give these folks a “Welcome to Atlanta,” and another feel-good Atlanta record. Lately, everyone been spinning off these old samples and making it into drill and kill zone music and shoot an opp. I just wanted to make a great party song, and let these folks know we grateful for our city.
The best way to do it is on an Outkast beat. That’s somebody who laid down bricks in the city and we just walking on it. We laid our own bricks, and we marrying these two worlds. We been here for 10 years, and they been here for way longer than 10. We just trying to put that hip-hop pocket back onto the music scene. Put the gun down.
Takeoff, how was meeting Lil Wayne and getting to work with him? I know that’s one of your guys.
Takeoff: That’s my brother. I talk to him and have personal conversations, and I can call him. That’s a bucket list as one of my favorite rappers. You don’t think you’ll get the chance to be close to him, and now I did a song with him and have a relationship with him. That’s who I learned the game from. Just learning how to record music — he don’t even write. Just looking at him go off the top of the head, the jewelry — he the GOAT. He gives me good advice.
On “Nothing’s Changed,” Takeoff, you rap, “The money, the car, the chains, the fame, I’d give up everything to see my grandma.” Expand on those few bars.
Takeoff: All this is just material. I could give everything up for my grandma. That was the backbone of the family. I love her. She everything. The love you got for your grandma. That’s my grandma, she made me gentle. Just to care for ya.
How about just seeing Offset and Quavo in high-profile relationships, is that something you shy away from?
Takeoff: I just do what I do. I just chill and stay out the way. I’m enjoying life. I’m blessed, so I’m not really tripping. I don’t like to be in the light of this s–t too much. I’m a laid-back type of person, and keep my life a mystery — like the old days when you didn’t know everything. Now you got the internet, where you know a whole bunch of bulls–t. I just keep my little personal to myself. You know, everything’s on the motherf–king internet.
I saw you guys posing in Kanye’s YZY SHDZ, have you spoken to him recently?
Quavo: Yeah, I talked to Ye. Anything I talk about with somebody that’s Kanye, I keep it private.
Takeoff: Shout-out to Ye. You hear me, y’all stop f–king with my boy.
Has Travis Scott given you guys a call for the UTOPIA sessions? We need that.
Quavo: Yeah, that’s Jack. Whenever Jack call, Huncho in the bat cave watching everything.
Takeoff: Come on, man. You know that.
If the Culture series is really over, how do you feel about its legacy in hip-hop?
Quavo: Most definitely a great, great series. One, two, and three. It’s history — you can’t repeat it, you can’t duplicate it and you can’t beat it. We’re proud of ourselves for that, and we want to see what the new Infinity Links bring. I feel like we laid down the groundwork to let y’all know that we was here to stay.
Takeoff: It’s legendary. We’ve been here a long time. People don’t even get to do it that long, and we’re blessed to keep doing it. We’re gonna feed y’all with more hot music, and we feel like we owe the fans to go back in and take it back to that feeling when we didn’t have the money. We’re taking it back to the hungry vibe. It’s that grime and hunger again.
Jim Jones said rappers have the most dangerous job in the world right now. Following the murders of rappers and most recently PnB Rock, does that change how you guys move in other cities? Quavo, I know you said you have a stalker out there too.
Quavo: It’s hard for us all. RIP to PnB Rock. It’s tough, bruh. It’s either go out with security, or go out with none. It’s either give it all up, or give it all up without a gun. You just gotta protect yourself and get yourself out of situations the best way you can. You can’t run from situations, and you can’t hide. It’s life, bro. I can’t speak on nobody situations because it can happen to anybody. If it do happen, just hope that you make it out that motherf–ker.
Takeoff: Just do what it takes to make it home. You gotta make it to the crib, since you got a family to feed. Something go down, it’s ,”Oh, you had security.” Something go down then it’s, “You dumb for not having security.” So at this point which one is it?
What else is left on the bucket list?
Quavo: Collab albums with everybody. I want to sauce this s–t up. When I took that picture with Jack Harlow, it would be fire if we do Huncho, Jack 2 with Jack Harlow.
Takeoff: Shout out that boy, Jack. Yeah, just taking over. Getting verse of the year, and just ain’t letting up. I ain’t really worried about awards, but [that’s] the cherry on top.
Quavo: He’s right. Takeoff is the best rapper out here, period. It’s been like that for a long time and people need to give him his flowers.