This piece has been updated.
This past Sunday, with 131,000 in album equivalent first-week sales, Migos landed their first no. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with Culture. Meanwhile, the album single “Bad & Boujee” was entering its 2973923742th week as the no. 1 song in the country (we can just go ahead and pretend that Ed Sheeran week never happened). The Super Bowl was a three-touchdown game. Both the Falcons and Migos had a 28–3 lead. Then Tom Brady looked James White over and noticed White had pulse-jet engines where his legs were supposed to be, right as Dan Quinn, Kyle Shanahan, and Matt Ryan all forgot what the word “run” even meant.
Then just days later, when Rolling Stone published a profile of Migos, we found out that Jonah Weiner had mentioned to Quavo that fellow Atlanta rapper iLoveMakonnen had came out as gay, and God DAMN it all, anything can happen but the right thing:
Do you think it might’ve been fine if everyone had just stopped right here? I think if everyone had stopped right here, we could imagine that Quavo felt pride and happiness over his friend Makonnen, who’d taught him how to “Whip It,” and also that Quavo felt genuine surprise at the outpouring of support. No? You’re right, that is overly generous and wilfully ignorant. We live in a post–“awkward interlude” world now. But it’s pleasant, if for a moment, to think it’s possible. Let’s put our glasses back on and face facts, though:
[Rubs temples.] OK. Teachable moment.
No one was expecting Migos to deliver some grand treatise on allyship, but this isn’t helping anyone. For starters, you can’t gesture at homosexuality being against the natural order of things and expect to broad-stroke over it with a half-hearted qualifier. There’s a scene in The Family Stone — a terrible movie that I love very dearly and watch every Christmas, whatever — about this exact thing.
As far as qualifiers go, wanting to “make things easier, for the child” is a sight more rounded and noble than “We ain’t saying it’s nothing wrong with the gays,” which is no better than saying nothing at all. And Diane Keaton was still ready to come across the dining table on/slap fire out of Sarah Jessica Parker. Categorizing a person’s identity or sexual orientation as wrong, inappropriate, or disadvantageous — regardless of how the statement is said or what one might’ve meant by it — will be received poorly. So don’t do it. Reconsider.
Second, Quavo suggesting that Makonnen’s sexuality somehow magics away the fact that he sold Molly — and no longer does — is the kind of garden variety anti-gay sentiment that permeates hip-hop under the guise of performative black masculinity. Remember when Rae Sremmurd appeared shirtless on their FADER cover and a bunch of people told on themselves in the comments? Remember the Vanity Fair photo featuring Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler that elicited a similarly backward response?
This is unprogressive thinking for a rap trio that invents new words on every other song. They’re still a fine rooting interest to have, but Migos have got to do better.
Update: Migos responded to the controversy with this message on Wednesday afternoon: