Offset abandons the shield that he’s held in front of his persona for so long, giving us an accurate portrayal of Kiari Kendrell Cephus, flaws and all.
Offset was once referred to as the "Kelly Rowland" of the Migos by Wendy Williams. Although his talent was always recognized, he was never the center of attention, nor did he really try to be. He's always been a vital component to the Migos sound and success, but whether he’d be able to stand on his own two, independent of his teammates, was often doubted.
Offset’s always had a subtle star-quality to himself that just needed to be unleashed. Cardi B credits Set for helping her navigate and manage the music business, but she too deserves recognition for unlocking Offset’s full potential.
In the past year, Offset’s been a magnet for controversy. Allegations that he cheated on Cardi B were rampant on the Internet, ultimately leading to their short-lived break-up in December, right before he was initially supposed to release his debut album, Father Of 4.
Some speculated it was a publicity stunt for the project but it never ended up dropping -- and, realistically, Offset’s story wouldn’t have been complete if it had dropped on time. He made it clear, even before the break-up, that he would give his story on his solo debut, and Cardi B has quickly become an integral part of his narrative and, more than that, his life.
Father Of 4 is an introduction to Kiari Kendrell Cephus, the Gwinnett County, GA native who’s seeking redemption for his past actions, whether it is being an absentee father to his kids in order to provide for them or trying to make things right with his wife. Offset cements himself as a solo entity while delivering the most honest and vulnerable offering from the whole Migos camp.
The thing about Offset’s album, especially in comparison to Quavo and Takeoff, is that he embraces his Southern heritage to the fullest, clearly essential to his personal portrait. Elements of blues are heard in his auto tune-laden harmonies, and there are appearances from two legendary Atlanta artists, Big Rube and Cee-Lo, adding deeper historical context to Offset’s Atlanta connection.
The production on Father Of 4 is predominantly handled by two architects of the current sound of trap, Metro Boomin and Southside, who make their debut as the production duo “SO ICEY BOYZ” on the project. They both have long-standing relationships with Offset. Metro previously worked alongside the rapper and 21 Savage on Without Warning. These Southern roots provide a launching pad for Offset’s impassioned story-telling. The album, in a way, is Offset’s coming of age story from getting it out the mud to his current peak of mainstream success. Southside’s production maintains the grit of trap while Metro’s symphonic production adds an eloquence that parallels Offset’s rise from the bottom.
Father Of 4 kicks off with the titular track featuring Big Rube, a first-generation member of the Dungeon Family. The OG opens up the project with an enchanting spoken word piece over Metro Boomin’s haunting string arrangement that builds up until Offset’s voice kicks in. “I am who you see/ What you hear is part of me/ But there's so much more to me/ So much more to be than just alive/ A son, a brother, a husband, a father,” Rube says at the beginning of the track, essentially providing us with the thesis statement for Father Of 4
From there, the revelations about Offset begin immediately, setting up the expectation for the rest of the album. Offset offers apologies to his kids for the mistakes he’s made. He opens up about being locked up at the time of his first son’s birth. He admits that he wasn’t sure if he was Kalea’s father. Overall, he acknowledges his own faults and makes an oath on wax to be there for his kids, unlike his own father. Offset is seeking redemption from his children and loved ones, another clear throughline we’ll see in the project.
“When I made that song, I just felt relieved, honestly,” he told The Breakfast Club about the project’s intro. “People ain’t really know that. Some of my partners don’t even know that. It’s thangs I was keepin’ in but I felt like, this album gotta be different because I’m grown. I’m doin’ real grown man thangs. I can’t keep talkin’ about these diamonds, cars -- because I go through real life all the time.”
“North Star” featuring Cee-Lo is Offset’s most open moment on the project. Offset bears his soul on this record, speaking candidly about the hardships of leaving the streets of Atlanta while adjusting to the fame. He makes his most honest revelation on the second verse about his struggles with opiates. “Crown me the King, addiction to lean/ But if I can’t sip it then mama, I can’t even sleep (yeah)/ Got skeletons all in my closet, I’m scared to peak (Scared to peak),” he raps. The reverb effects added to his adlib in those bars alone echo the paranoia and fear he expresses throughout the song. Cee-Lo’s vocals carry out the end of the track, bringing everyone to church with a gospel delivery to his tone. If Offset is seeking answers, Cee-Lo serves as guidance for the rapper’s search for mental freedom.
Offset delivers a lot of serious and personal moments on the project but sticking to his roots also means the inclusions of a few necessary bangers. He enlists frequent collaborators to help get the deed done, while also continuing to pay homage to artists from Atlanta that came before him, came up with him and came after him, not to mention, his baby mama.
Offset and Gunna connect on “Wild Wild West,” a muddy banger that finds Offset and Gunna navigating through the violent streets of Atlanta. On “Legacy,” Offset reconnects with 21 Savage and Travis Scott for a menacing heater exploring status and the harsh realities of the streets. 21 uses 6ix9ine as an example of not being solid in the streets, rapping, “Catch me in the 6 with a Blicky/ N***a took the stand, he Mickey/ N***as get to tellin’ when it’s sticky.” Hip-hop’s power couple get together for “Clout.” Over the trunk-rattling production of Southside and Cubeatz, Cardi B and Offset deliver the hardest-hitting banger on the project, blasting the opps while they’re at it.
The project closes out with the eerie “Red Room” and the easy-going “Came A Long Way.” The former centers around the car crash he narrowly survived in May 2018. In “Red Room,” Offset’s life is flashing before his eyes. Sequentially, “Came A Long Way” is the moment after surviving the crash, where he’s gained clarity and newfound gratitude after a near-death experience. Both songs tie up the album neatly, summarizing all the access we were just granted into Offset’s life.
Despite the two-month delay from its initially scheduled release date, the wait was worth it. On Father Of 4, Offset delivers his complete story-- at least, thus far. Offset abandons the shield that he’s held in front of his persona for so long, giving us an accurate portrayal of Kiari Kendrell Cephus, flaws and all.