The “3 Way (Intro)” comes in with such conviction that it effectively erases any memory of Migos’ January dud, Y.R.N. 2. From Quavo’s stuttering syllables to Takeoff’s lively sing-along, each rapper is in prime form. Offset, wedged between the Uncle/Nephew duo, comes in with his own air of defiance, scoffing “huh huh, jumped off the porch” before growling that he’s got “birds like Mighty Duck.” This act of matching eccentric cadences with fantastical stories is what the Migos do best, but for a majority of the year, we’ve seen Quavo and Offset shun their duties at home to deliver stellar guest verses elsewhere, with Takeoff presumably sleeping off the cookie he just smoked. So the arrival of 3 Way EP, a surprise release consisting of only 5 songs, is a much-needed reset button for the collective’s 2016 output.
The godfather, Zaytoven, blesses the production early on with his trademark gritty yet orchestral compositions and his spiritual children, Cassius Jay, Dun Deal and Ricky Racks, all manage to live up to his standards. Together, the team creates a consistent aesthetic of gloomy yet vibrant melodies. The closer, “Slide On Em,” is an intoxicating invitation to anyone brave enough to confront this powerhouse and boasts a mix of menacing bravado and out of control ad-libs over Dun Deal’s sweeping keys. But it’s Ricky Racks (fresh off his 2015 hit with Young Thug, “Best Friend,” which recently went platinum) who proves to be at the head of his class. His contributions to the best cut on the EP, “Can’t Go Out Sad,” plays like a giddy acid trip at a rundown carnival, with the trio frolicking around the trippy soundscape trying to convince themselves that they don’t care about their significant other.
This EP is refreshing simply because each head of this Cerberus beast is foaming at the mouth, fighting for the best moment on a given track. There’s a distinct lack of gimmicks and we’re left with just a well-curated collection of strong music. You have Quavo potentially playing for every sports team imaginable (the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, and Oklahoma City Thunder, to name a few), Offset racking up flows like high scores at an arcade and Takeoff sounding more crucial than ever before. The latter, most undervalued member of the group, even starts to seriously challenge Quavo’s de facto role as HeadHuncho with every morphing voice and unexpected turn in flow.
Despite the engaging rapping, the song structures could still use more variation and certain hooks, handled solely by Quavo, are more repetitive than anthemic. Each rapper waits patiently to go in some predetermined order (Quavo/Offset/Takeoff) and this familiarity does invoke a sense of redundancy. However, when you have Quavo shifting from mourning his incarcerated friends to contemplating buying a helicopter, Offset chastising you for graduating from law school, and Takeoff teaching you how not to fumble a pack, there’s barely any room for a dull moment.
Since Offset was released from his eight-month stint in Bulloch County Jail, Migos fans have been patiently waiting for the #Dab to die out and a new wave to be set by these perpetual creators of culture. 3 Way EP serves as a proper eulogy and breath of fresh air. The joints are well-oiled and cobwebs cleanly swept way. No Label 3 should be something special.