Migos’ Takeoff had already changed the sound of hip-hop. He was just getting started on a new chapter.
The Chicago rapper was born in Detroit, but moved to Chicago when he was four. When he turned seven, his mother moved him and his older brother to Los Angeles, where they would make music together as part of the popular Motown label.
Migos grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Lil Scrappy, and his sister, Keisha, who are both members of the hip-hop group the Brothers. As a child, Migos didn’t know much about music beyond what their parents listened to, and spent most of his free time trying to learn to play the guitar.
Sister Keisha taught him how to play the “Cadillac City” single, which became a big hit in the mid-1990s. She would often ask Migos to play the song throughout the day, just to make sure he could play it.
“They would hear the song in the car and then walk or ride in the car with us so we could sing along,” Keisha explained in 2013. “That’s how they heard the song for the first time.”
Eventually, they began to play it more and more, and the song became a sort of “theme song” for both siblings. “We both started going to different concerts, because Lil Scrappy and Sister Keisha were all over,” Migos said.
“We would start playing it. It was something we really gravitated to. It was something with our personalities. It was something that represented our family.”
To make it into the music world, Migos had to create an original sound. He was always good at drawing on the inspiration of his older brother and sister, and as a result, their early material was often influenced by older artists like Luther Vandross, Babyface, Michael Jackson and Mary J. Blige.
His family’s musical influences helped him to develop a sound that combined his hip-hop roots with jazz and classical instruments. His biggest influence was the funk and soul band Parliament-Funkadelic, who was an important influence on his early albums, including his debut, I Can Be The One, which won the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Rap