Sunday’s 2023 BET Awards were one big block party as the music industry gathered at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The night honored some of the genre’s best and brightest, rounding up everyone from OGs like The Sugarhill Gang, Busta Rhymes, Redman, and Warren G to the new leaders of the pack (Latto! Doechii! Bobby Shmurda!) to rock the stage. Every performance had the audience in the theatre and at home on our feet, but one music moment that no one saw coming had just about everyone in tears: a surprise Migos reunion.
Atlanta-based hip-hop trio Migos (featuring Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset) made their official debut in 2011, but things really kicked off for the rap group in 2013 when Drake hopped onto their popular single “Versace,” elevating them to a global level. Migos quickly became the face of trap music, and their signature flow could be heard all over the radio as they worked with hip-hop legends like Pharrell, Kanye West, and DJ Khaled. Though the group fractured in early 2022 when Quavo and Takeoff announced that they were working on a project without Offset — “We want to see our career as a duo,” Quavo said during an appearance on Revolt TV’s Big Facts podcast, hinting that Migos were over. “Because you know, we just came from a loyal family, sh*t that’s supposed to stick together. And sometimes, when sh*t don’t work out, it ain’t meant to be.” — it still seemed like their respective careers were unstoppable, until November 1, 2022, when what should’ve been a casual night at a Houston bowling alley ended in tragedy as Takeoff was killed in a shooting.
In the weeks that followed, authorities began an in-depth investigation into the fatal gunfire incident (a man named Patrick Clark, 33 was arrested in connection with the death in December and indicted on murder charges last month), and the hip-hop community mourned the profession and personal loss of the Atlanta rapper. Takeoff was the glue of Migos, a master lyricist as well as the calm, level-headed energy that kept the group together. Without him, it seemed unlikely that Quavo and Offset could ever be on good terms again; the former friends allegedly even got into a fight at the 2023 Grammys, right before Quavo was supposed to pay tribute to his late nephew and group member. (Though the scuffle was caught on camera, Offset would later deny the rumors.)
As fate would have it, Migos aren’t quite done just yet. Almost a year after Takeoff’s death, his brothers made their first public joint appearance at last night’s BET Awards and paid homage to him in the best way possible by performing one of their greatest hits. With a giant image of Takeoff projected on the screen behind them, Quavo and Offset took the stage to the sounds of Takeoff’s iconic “Hotel Lobby” verse. Throughout the five minute performance of their Billboard chart topping anthem “Bad and Boujee,” complete with a laser show, pyrotechnics, and backup dancers, the duo enthusiastically rapped Takeoff’s parts from start to finish, closing to a standing ovation.
Quavo and Offset’s surprise reunion moved everyone watching the awards show, and the timeline erupted with emotion during their performance.
Cardi B, who is married to Offset and has spoken openly about the heavy toll of Takeoff’s death on her family, also shared an emotional reaction to the special moment on her social media. “I can’t take it right now,” Cardi captioned a meme of a man crying during the performance. “Proud of the boys.”
The Migos duo also went on to share clips of the tribute to their respective social media pages, capturing the videos with near-identical stating that they “did it for the fam.” Backstage, when asked about how they put the performance together, Quavo chalked it up to “rocket power,” the spirit and influence of Takeoff. (The rapper’s forthcoming solo album is also called Rocket Power and is said to be dedicated to his late nephew.)
We’ll never know the details of exactly what happened to split up the Migos in the first place, but honestly, it doesn’t even matter now. What’s more important than what broke them apart is what brought them together again: the legacy of their fallen brother. Long live Takeoff. Long live Migos.