LOS ANGELES (AP) — On Friday, Offset released his ambitious second solo album, “Set It Off.” In doing so, he also announced a new era.
“My goal changed,” the Migos rapper told The Associated Press over Zoom.
It’s been four years since Offset released his debut solo album, “Father of 4.”
“’Father of 4′ was giving you the inside of me, but I wasn’t really focused on doing solo stuff,” he says. “So, for this one, it was just a process of me learning for myself and pushing myself more as an artist.”
And specifically, as a soloist. Last year, rumors circled around a second album tentatively titled, “Blame It on Set,” that would be released in late 2022, seemingly delayed by the fatal shooting of his Migos bandmate and cousin, Takeoff, late last year.
Offset says some of the songs written in that time made it onto “Set It Off” — but the title was just gossip.
“’Blame It on Set’ is just a song. People just, like, ran with that narrative,” he says. “I had not put no album name out because during that time I ain’t have an album name figured out, to be honest.” He’s grateful to have waited to put out his sophomore release.
“Some of the songs I made within them two years is, like, magical,” he says. “I feel like with this album you can just ride it through, top to bottom, one to 21.”
In that way, he thinks of “Set It Off” as possessing a kind of theatricality.
“Instead of it being a movie, it’s a series,” he says. And one with a lot of players: His wife, Cardi B, drops bars on two tracks, “Jealousy” and “Freaky.” Elsewhere, Latto, Young Naddy, Chlöe, Mango Foo, Don Toliver, Future and Travis Scott feature.
That may very well be the result of a mindset change. Offset is interested in being a well-rounded entertainer these days, like his hero Michael Jackson. The influence is apparent on the album’s cover, where Offset wears a single white glove, and certainly in the MJ parodies throughout the music video for his single, “FAN.” But there are other connections, too: MJ left The Jackson 5 to embark on a solo journey, like Offset’s work in a world after Migos.
“Creativity — I wanted to push myself there,” Offset says. “And I’m in my Mike bag right now.”
He’s also acutely aware of the power of strong visuals, one of the many things Jackson mastered, and how that extends to content creation in the modern era.
“I don’t want to put myself in a box. I would challenge myself — that’s why you see me pulling out choreo, just taking it to the next level of entertainment without being scared of thinking about what people are going to think,” he says.
That multimedia approach is also one of the reasons why the video of his interview with social media personality Bobbi Althoff went viral. She’s known for a particularly dry, uninformed, sometimes combative hosting style, which he met with similar humor. He now calls the interaction a “win-win,” for both, and for promoting his album.
“People fell in love with my personality and my jokey side,” he says of the clip. “We needed that laugh.”
Online shenanigans aside — On “Set It Off,” Offset offers 21 tracks of real rap records — a change of pace in a genre currently led by a trend of rappers who, well, sing.
“I wanted to bring rap back, not so much melody,” he says. “Metro (Boomin) was telling me, ‘Hey, bro, people wanna hear you rap, dog. The singing s—- is cool, but people want to hear you, specifically, rap.’” He took the advice to heart.
As for Migos, the familial group that started it all, Offset considers his performance of “Bad and Boujee” with Quavo at the 2023 BET Awards, celebrating 50 years of hip-hop, as “a great way to close that chapter.”
He also doesn’t consider “Set It Off” to be an homage to his late cousin, either, unlike Quavo’s solo record “Rocket Power” released in August. That album featured posthumous verses from Takeoff.
“I’m going hard for him, but this is not a tribute,” Offset says. “Me, personally, I don’t want to do that because it is reminding me, he’s gone.”
Though references to Takeoff do appear on a few tracks, like “Say My Grace” with Travis Scott and “Night Vision,” where Offset raps, “Thinking ‘bout spinnin’ bout my brotha Take that s—- been eating me (crazy) / I can’t get no peace when I be sleep be seeing.”
He pauses: “I’d rather just have his legacy keep going. Take is that guy, like, I don’t want to lean on that.”
And on “Set It Off,” he doesn’t — instead, Offset reintroduces himself.