The State Farm Arena was turned into a church on Friday as family and fans gathered to celebrate Takeoff’s earthbound departure from Migos.
The three-hour send-off was a superstar affair, with performances from Justin Bieber, Chloe Bailey and Yolanda Adams, plus a poem by Drake and words of remembrance from Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and the label’s founders. Migos, Quality Control Music. .
Cousin Offset, who together with Takeoff’s uncle Quavo formed the successful platinum factory known as Migos, struggled to pull himself together as he remembered his bandmate, who he grew up with and whom he considered a brother. Head bowed, dreadlocks obscuring his face, he repeatedly apologized.
“I love you, dog. I love you,” he said.
Offset was unable to sleep or eat after the November 1 murder, he told the several thousand people in attendance, most of them dressed in black. Every time he dozes off, he says, he wakes up hoping the news of his 28-year-old cousin’s fatal shooting in Houston was a terrible dream.
“I wish we could laugh again,” he said. “I wish I could smoke one with you.”
He concluded by saying how Migos changed the future of music – “You did that, Take” – and called for more brotherhood and camaraderie around the world before asking the crowd to pray with him.
The ceremony opened with about an hour of gospel music. White roses covered the stage and Takeoff’s coffin sat at the foot of mother-of-pearl-like stairs. Acrobats in angel garb danced in the back corners, suspended from white ribbons as a choir sang. An infinity symbol with Takeoff’s signature rocket emblem at its center surrounded the arena, a nod not only to his latest productions, but also to how he will be remembered – forever. .
Bieber took to the stage in a dark slide, as candles on stadium screens bathed the arena floor in a soft glow. Perched on a stool with only a piano to support him, the two-time Grammy winner performed “Ghost.”
“What if you can’t be next to me/Your memory is in ecstasy/I miss you more than life,” he crooned.
Drake, who in 2013 catapulted the rising stars into a whole new world when he remixed and added a verse to their hit, “Versace”, relied on British artist Joyce Grenfell and writer Maya Angelou in his eulogy.
He quoted Grenfell: “If I were to go before all of you / Not break a flower or inscribe a stone / Or when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice / But be the usual selves I’ve known.
He then paraphrased Angelou’s “When Great Trees Fall,” a poem about how it’s understandable to be sad when great trees are felled or when great souls pass by, but it’s wise to remember, “They have existed. They existed/We can be. Be and be better / Because they existed.
The hip-hop superstar who just released an album with Atlanta’s 21 Savage then recited his own poem, ‘We Should Do That More’, recalling how he met Migos on their tour of 54 cities in 2018. He cried as he recalled the Swiss wristwatch, an Audemars Piguet, which Takeoff gave him as a gift
“I miss playing with my brothers,” he said. “We should do it more.”
Takeoff will always be remembered as the Migo silencer. But several speakers warned the crowd not to confuse their silence with a lack of things to say. He is considered by many to be the best rhymer of the trio, and Jesse Curney III, pastor of the Lilburn church that Takeoff’s family attends, shared a story Quavo once told him about Takeoff’s sobriquet.
Where Quavo and Offset needed multiple takes to put their verses on tracks, picking up and picking up until they were successful, Takeoff – the youngest of the three – walked over to the mic and dropped his lyrics in one. perfect grip. “He was an introvert,” the pastor said, “but he trusted God” not to hold back.
Between Bailey’s moving rendition of Beyonce’s “Heaven” and Adams’ performance of the gospel song, “The Battle is Not Yours,” Takeoff’s family members took to the podium to offer fond memories of the Humble, wise and peaceful young man who always wanted to be a rapper but never worried about credit or the spotlight. Even as a baby, he had a unique voice, said his mother, Titania Davenport-Treet.
“I could tell his cry from any other child,” she said, adding that God must have given him that voice because he always knew what he wanted to be.
He was calm but always attentive, family members said, and he never bothered anyone. He was the funniest guy in the room, and no matter his fame, he never stopped putting family first and making sure their needs were met, they said.
“He was hugging so tight you could feel the love going through him,” his mother said.
State Farm was a fitting place for Takeoff’s farewell. The rapper was often courtside — usually with Quavo and Offset — for Atlanta Hawks games, icy and dripping wet. For years, his music roared through the PA system during downtime and replays.
Although the doors didn’t open until noon, fans began lining up outside the arena around 8:30 a.m., despite a constant cool drizzle. Around 10 a.m., a woman stuck her arm out of a passing silver Mazda and barked, “Rest in peace, takeoff.” Fans online responded.
Kalandrick Woods, 24, and his girlfriend Kailey Allen, 20, from Covington were second. Woods took the day off as a sandblaster operator and they drove about 45 minutes to get downtown.
Woods grew wistful when asked about his favorite song — “Last Memory” from Takeoff’s 2018 debut solo effort — and said it’s always hard to talk about his favorite Migo. He cried when he heard the news, he said.
“I’m still depressed about it,” he said.
Woods likes the fact that Takeoff was known for keeping to himself, but that in no way meant he was the bottom third of the group. With each new song, he appeared more developed as a lyricist, able to switch from rapid rapping to deliberate bursts of four or five words that painted vivid scenes. He gave stunning displays of lyricism on 2014’s “Cross the Country” and more recently on “Integration” with Quavo, staying on the beat like a metronome as he flipped the styles on the tracks.
“Deadshot (brrt)/AK make that head rock (brrt)” is the start of Fifi Solomon’s favorite verse for Takeoff, although she had to think about it for a few seconds. From the 2017 Migos hit, “Slippery,” Takeoff goes last – after Quavo, Offset and fellow ATLien Gucci Mane – and features his band’s Quentin Tarantinoesque cartel characters.
“He said a lot in a few words,” Solomon said. “He was the quietest, but I think he was the deepest lyrically.”
Solomon, 25, and his friend, Nani Kidane, 28, traveled from Migos’ former home base in Gwinnett County for the funeral. The group’s impact has reached far beyond Atlanta, they said. They were fashion trendsetters and influenced the way rappers inject improvisation into their music.
They also led by example with their work ethic, Kidane said. Takeoff will be greatly missed, she said.
“I’m a huge fan,” Solomon said. “He was my favorite lyrically in the band, and he’s from where I’m from, so it hit harder.”
Kidane added, “It hit close to home being from Gwinnett.”
Maliyah Tindall, 22, of Riverdale, and Sequoia Thomas, 20, of Atlanta also cited Takeoff’s “Slippery” verse as one of their favorites. The couple set off from Clayton State University in Morrow, about 30 minutes away, to pay their respects.
“He’s huge for the culture,” Thomas said ahead of the funeral. “They paved the way for a lot of rappers who are going to be here today.”
“He was quiet but had a big impact,” Tindall said, prompting Thomas to add, “Like a tame lion.”
Migos was part of Tindall and Thomas’s teenage years, they said, and it didn’t always get the recognition it deserved, but it appeared on every track.
“He would even cover people’s songs outside of Migos,” Thomas said of his characteristics with other artists, including Lil Wayne, Roddy Rich and Travis Scott.
Takeoff seemed aware of his notoriety as a moderate Migo, but the Lawrenceville-born rap star also seemed poised to shake up the reputation, eerily telling the “Drink Champs” podcast last month: “Time to pop it, you know what i mean? It’s time to give me my flowers, you know what I mean? I don’t want them later when I’m not there. I want them right away, so…”
After more than a dozen Migos mixtapes and four studio albums — including two platinum records — Takeoff and Quavo recently announced they’ll be performing as Unc & Phew. Last month, the pair released “Only Built for Infinity Links,” with Offset noticeably absent. Although the band didn’t officially break up, there were rumors of some kind of beef among the trio.
From Friday’s recollection, it was abundantly clear that Offset would give a lot to speak with his cousin one more time. Migos fans are hoping Takeoff’s tragic murder might help Quavo and Offset reconsider everything that made them move in different directions.
“I hope they can put aside their differences,” Solomon told CNN. “You know, get together for Takeoff.”