In Offset's latest radio interview with the Breakfast Club, he kicked off the Q n A confessing with a loud proclamation, that he has, indeed, has had "a rough year.”
“Rough” is hardly the word.
The 27-year old superstar was caught, in public, twice, and with a different accessory to each public infidelity; he endured multiple moments of harsh social media backlash; added a short jail stint on gun possession charges for good measure; and was involved in terrifying car accident while his superstar wife and Grammy winner Cardi B, was at that time pregnant with his fourth child.
If it sounds overwhelming, Offsets feelings speak to a hard won humility, an attempt to stay chilled out knowing he has dealt with a lot . Offset (legally: Kiari Cephus) has emerged from a termalotus time as more mature, open, and most importantly, more comfortable with himself than ever.
Through his effort to show his true self, and to show his listeners the comfort zone he has carved out for himself through the benefit of communication, and stepping into the courage to express his thoughts, feelings and emotional truths on social media and on records, to express perspectives, harsh and honest, and experiences from the past and present, Offset has given the public an example of the benefit of being completely truthful and himself. As he’s said on multiple media platforms, including a visit to “Ellen”, in the lead up to putting out his album, this is his priority.
And he gets this expressive perspective crystal clear and beamed directly from his frontal lobe to you, conveying an emotional and spiritual thesis on something more than just what happened, but about how he is healing from the past, even as he is repairing his present, which manifests itself in a list full of serious, direct pieces on his debut album, Father of Four.
For a young black man and popular member of one the biggest groups in music, to be able to survive, mature and reach success in the music industry, with a desire to better himself and to be seen for only himself, is noteworthy; this fact is the most important part of what influences the style of writing, production, and the mature feel on Father, and the reason why his music is maturing at the same time he does.
The title track cycles on with Offset sailing us through his struggles with being a young father, and apologizes to his kids for not doing a better job. He weaves our way gracefully through the mistakes and missteps that indelibly mark each child. The song starts out with a spoken word piece from Atlanta rap legend, Big Rube, (known for his poetry on several Outkast albums) which works like an open door for the listener, and helps ground us in the importance of what Offset will talk about, and prepares us for what’s to come.
Offset delivers up a rap/croon vocal performance over a bleak, soulful piano melody, with light sounding, perpetuating traditional trap drums, sounding more introspective rather than self pitying and self loathing. He maneuvers through experiences, coupling events with reflections, framing his narratives more like a nonfiction piece than a rap song.
Through Offset’s desire to be known and to heal himself, his truths become a guide to maturation, by demonstrating transparency and openness in his lyrics, by the way he relays what he has to say as is if he is having a conversation, with his audience. In an effort to be and show his human side, and bare himself, the young rapper reaches new depths as a human being, and emcee and, with offering himself rather than concepts, or stuntin bars, he becomes like a connector between his truths, and the transformative power expression can bring for his community.
His new way of record making and communicating to his audience, provides loyal fans, as well as the occasional listeners, and the constant dismissers, a strapping work of art. Offset moves through the songs with flow and grace, and approaches the beats–a bulk of them produced by frequent collaborator Metro Boomin which are noticeably more bare, consisting of lighter drums, absent of booming sub bass drums-- with sophistication rather than mobbing on a track, like songs of old, such as"Bad and Boogie". At this point of his life Offset is more interested in making something everlasting than making culture. He utilizes the minimalism, and the openness of music to make sure his lyrics remain with the listener. Offset’s more focused and down to earth lyrics make it clear that it’s less about the flash and triumphs, and it’s more about the inner and the eternal.
On “How Did I Get Here”, he rhymes smoothly, and effortlessly having his rhymes glide over a drum lead beat, surrounded by a muffled monster like call that sounds like some escaped monster is approaching the listener, with creepy keyboard riffs, and a melody resembling the theme from X Files, returning in and out to create a eery, displaced feeling, that is fitting for Offset’s well painted picture of being self conscious, feeling unknown at his level of fame in the rap industry, and the weirdness one can feel when you’ve achieved success but still feel like you’re not supposed to be at that height.
“Felt like I was born on Mars/Everybody staring too hard/They didn’t really think I was start/Then I f****** up and beat the odds/How Did I Get right here? Neck, wrist on chandelier/Made me wanna drop some tears/Thank God that I switched gears”.
Offset finds a way to intertwine the personal, move towards self introspection, while still stuntin, and bragging, likening to work that come close to the song crafting abilities and skills of the likes of Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, and is still able to outshine a regarded lyricist in guest J.Cole, on another of the album’s standouts.
Even on a more radio potential track, “Lick”, Offset spends time sharing his experiences while contemplating his past, his present and politics, all within the hook.
“Born in the wild, so many trials, I ain’t quit/ all the people I robbed I bought em down I repent/Dirtied the money I let down, watch it cleanse/selling these pounds a hundred, times I jumped the fence/Breaking it down I made a pound turn to ten/The hunnids ain’t found in the ground don’t get sent/way back in time the black and brown you get lynched ….see the pain in my eyes, I hold it down, causes I’m rich.”
Offset, while freeing himself by offering himself, provides his fans an example of gifts of self expression and being honest. Father of Four ‘s, foundation is rooted in the belief in building power of communicating. The project is solidly crafted exemplar of the adult existence– the compilation of the good and the bad in our lives. On the song “After Dark”, he strolls through the pain he carries from the death of a friend, betrayals, and moments of twisted thoughts that he deals with and tries his best to let go. On the somber and gaunty, “North Star”, a notable point of departure, that suddenly makes the listener feel as if they’ve been dropped down into a dusky dungeon, Offset, details his feelings about the backlash from blogs, social media, and “people lying on him”. On the track he sounds saddened and determined–but also seems to be a little unaware of the impact of his actions while he pours out his frustrations about the criticism concerning his character, and his crashing of Cardi B’s live set, in his notorious attempt to apologize. His feelings are enhanced by the albums best feature in Cee-Lo Green, who gives one of his best performances in some time, singing in his usual high pitch belt , but on the hook, bridge, and ending of the song, the background vocals layered with a few of his vocal tracks, render his voice strikingly unrecognizable and making up a company of captivating harmonies, carrying the grace and convicting power of a good church choir.
On “Don’t Lose Me”, a direct tribute to Cari B, Offset intelligently weaves in his experiences with Cardi, excerpts of his infidelity, and his love for her, on a moody but lush, tropical sounding piece, where the drums are light sounding, with popping percussion, and a glossy flute that rides in and out, adding brightness to the dark tone of the pads, helping create the perfect balance between care and lingering hurt. The tracks ontological core, like most on the album is the healing and progressive power of communication. By allowing the thoughts and sayings of Cardi to take the forefront for the content, Offset, wonderfully, and easily includes women in the community he is desperate to reach.
“You have to fight for what you believe in, fight for what you love, because it’s going to come. You can be tough but it’s going to show in your career, it’s gonna show in your music, ya hurt, man. It’s ok bruh..it’s ok to be regular…”, he says in a Hot 97 interview.
Father of Four is not without its throwaway tracks. Flossing records like “Wild Wild West” which features Gunna, “On Fleek” featuring Quavo, “Underrated,”or the head bopping single “Quarter Milli” featuring Gucci Mane, are songs where Offset and guests stunt, and resemble songs of old with mostly empty lyrics. The songs don’t drag the album down, but they do end up creating somewhat of a bit of lull when going through the album.
Father of Four is not only an unfiltered view into Offset, but a model of the healing power of expression for every type of fan, and the youth that follow him and his band.