Migos Credit: David Rams

The chief innovation Atlanta trio Migos have brought to rap music is using words as punctuation. (Period). Quavo, his cousin Offset, and his nephew Takeoff don’t merely rap or sing or rap-sing, they pepper their bars with stray words or onomatopoetic sounds that aren’t just stylistic quirks or sound effects (boom), but integral components of their vocals. (Critical). Sometimes the device works like the connective tissue of em dashes (continue), ellipses (dot dot dot), or rhetorical questions (what). Aesthetics aside, what’s brilliant about this technique is twofold (double time): How Migos make the words fit within the beat, and how that approach contributes to the sonic world they inhabit (it’s Atlanta). Take the chorus of “Slippery,” one of the best tracks on Migos’s recent masterpiece, Culture (Atlantic): “Pop a perky just to start it (pop it, pop it) / Pop two cups of purple just to warm up (two cups) (drank) / I heard your bitch she got that water / Splash (drip, drip), woo (splash).” (Ergo) Migos revel in the musicality of the English language -30-.   v