Quavo has released a poignant tribute song for his nephew and longtime collaborator Takeoff, who was killed in Houston early on November 1. The single, “Without You,” is the first release from the normally prolific Atlanta artist since the tragic event, and his first overall public statement since he posted a transcript of his funeral speech a week later.
“Without You” is accompanied by a somber, minimalist, one-shot music video in which Quavo, filmed in greyscale, is seen pensively smoking in a studio chairas the lyrics of the song appear below him on the screen. The track features five credited producers, three of whom (Mike Dean, Zaytoven, and Murda Beatz) were close collaborators with Migos. The slow, pensive “Without You” is a departure from the usual musical style of Quavo and Migos, which is characterized by athletic, triplet rap flows, a massively influential delivery that has been widely credited to Takeoff specifically. Here, Quavo solemnly croons, his voice audibly cracking at certain points.
“I wish I had a time machine / Just so you can take a ride with me / I miss just how you smile at me / Unc and Phew until infinity,” Quavo sings. He also seems to allude to the pain felt by his sister, Takeoff’s mother: “I wouldn’t have got it out the mud without you /
It’s hard to see Mama Love without you,” he says. Towards the song’s conclusion, Quavo delicately croons “Take, I’m sorry.”
An official memorial for Takeoff took place at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on November 11, with both Offset and Quavo speaking publicly. Quavo spoke about Takeoff’s love for music and their childhood dreams of being a WWE tag team. “This whole time I’ve been trying to figure out what you really are to me because nephew wasn’t it. We hated that word ‘nephew’ or when they said ‘Unc and Phew,’ ‘cuz we always knew we were way closer than that and it made me feel old, too…Now I finally get it, you are our angel.”
Three weeks ago in one of his first performances since Takeoff’s death, Offset played the Jackson 5 song “Never Can Say Goodbye” and had an image of his late cousin projected onto the screen as he walked on stage.
“Without You” is currently unavailable on streaming services. It follows Quavo and Takeoff’s last project together, Only Built for Infinity Links, which was released to critical acclaim just weeks before Takeoff’s death.