Offset – SET IT OFF

A musical autobiography...

On the surface, Offset has got it all. One of the most successful rappers of his generation, his glittering lifestyle – complete with beautiful, incredibly talented in her own right, other half – is the envy of just-about anyone on the planet. Scratch the surface, though, and some deep fissures open up – emerging from a background blighted by poverty, and losing someone close to him in unimaginably tragic circumstances, have left their mark.

It’s these twin poles that frame ambitious new album ‘SET IT OFF’. A 21-track blockbuster, it’s spark by love and grief, success and a pervasive feeling of being unworthy. Fuelled by braggadocio and a desire to set things right, ‘SET IT OFF’ is his testament, and it’s the closest we’ve come to the real Offset.

The peaks are huge. ‘SAY MY GRACE’ is an unruly mosh-pit starter, while ‘HOP OUT THE VAN’ is as raw as they come, the club-focussed production echoing that ominous line “murder in my soul”. Two Cardi B collaborations tower over the album: ‘FREAKY’ is cartoonish, playful, and completely catchy, while ‘JEALOUSY’ self-consciously plays with the media attention surrounding their relationship. It’s a neat moment, flipping the cameras back on those who look into their lives on a daily basis.

As much as ‘SET IT OFF’ is a testament to success, it’s also a document of loss. ‘WORTH IT’ has an emptiness at its core which is incredibly affecting, the opening reggae sample – “wake the town and tell the people” – offering Offset a chance to speak from the heart. ‘I’M ON’ is enveloped by an eerie paranoia, while the understated ‘HEALTHY’ tackles repressing emotions, and trapped rage. It comes to the surface on ‘SAY MY GRACE’, in which Offset directly addresses the murder of Takeoff, a potent statement of grief that finally allows the rapper to haul down his guard.

It’s a brave moment, on a record replete with highlights. Chlöe’s vocal on ‘PRINCESS CUT’ is sublime, further sign of the beauty inherent in her talents; Future adds a different form of energy to ‘BROAD DAY’, the two MCs racing each other in the booth, the competition evident from the off.

A glittering project that underlines Offset’s status as one of American rap’s MVPs, ‘SET IT OFF’ doubles as an emotional mirror, as a form of autobiography. All that glitters isn’t gold – and very often the finest moments on this album are its most humble.


Words: Robin Murray

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