You’ll most likely find Quavo at the intersection of professional sports and hip-hop. Before gracing the mic, Huncho had dreams of playing in the NFL, where he started at quarterback for Berkmar High School in Georgia and left holding the Gwinnett County record for completions in a single game — twenty-eight — back in 2009.
Nine years later, the Migos frontman is leading another team to the top, as the rap trio has powered its way into the mainstream of hip-hop, becoming the culture’s trendsetters in the process. Bleacher Report named as Quavo one of the 50 most influential people in sports culture, deeming the 27-year-old as “tha quarterback of the culture.”
Growing up, Huncho would often visualize himself playing in the EA Sports Madden series every year as a dedicated gamer throughout his childhood. Now, Quavo has the privilege to become apart of the game he loves by crafting “They Can’t Win” alongside the Migos and DJ Durel as a fresh tune for Madden 19′s soundtrack. The Quality Control trio is joined on the videogame’s star-laden soundtrack by the likes of Young Thug, Lil Skies, A$AP Rocky, T.I., Cardi B, Post Malone, and others.
Billboard caught up with Quavo to hear the unlikely scenario that led to “They Can’t Win” becoming a possibility, his favorite memories of playing Madden growing up, plans while on tour with Drake, how “Apeshit” got into Beyoncé and JAY-Z’s hands, new music on the way, and much more.
How did you end up landing “They Can’t Win” on the Madden 19 soundtrack?
I actually ran into the [President of Music] of EA [Steve Schnur] in the middle of Times Square in New York. He was like, “How would you like to work with EA and be in the new ‘Madden?'” I was like, “Shit, I would love it.” I got his information right there on the block of New York, and ever since then it was history.
He texted me, “Do you remember the record that Ludacris did for Madden 2000?'” I was like, “Yeah.” That was one of my favorite songs and I remember John Madden was on the cover. The song was that good and I was trying to make a song that could possibly be a banger and a good Madden song at the same time. That’s where “They Can’t Win” came from. It was crazy.
Were you always playing Madden throughout your childhood?
Yeah, of course. I had them all from the ’90s through the 2000s. I’ve been an EA Sports fan ever since. I’m a sports guy and an athlete as well. I’ve been playing for a long time.
Which year of Madden was your favorite growing up?
Madden 2004 with Michael Vick on the cover was my favorite. He was just unstoppable on there. It was unreal. You could just scramble with him and run for a 90-yard touchdown down the field. It was out of this world.
I know you can sling it in real life, and you even had your own flag football tournament called Huncho Day earlier this year. What other rappers would you want on your team next year?
I’d go with the same Huncho Day team. I’m going to do it again next year. I’m going to try to incorporate more basketball players this time, but it’s hard, since they’re in season and it’s around playoff time.
I’ll take Gucci Mane. He’s been working out and going really hard on his training shit. I see he’s been even doing some football drills. I would love to have him for Huncho Day. Trouble was great, actually. A lot of these guys have good athletic ability, even 21 Savage. 21 thinks he’s good at everything. Just to see him out there fall over and try to compete was fun. Right now he’s at an all-time high of trying to conquer everything. He wants to be first place in everything.
What are you looking forward to most regarding going on tour with Drake?
I’m looking forward to this basketball tournament we got going on the whole tour. It’s like a playoff game and a trophy made. It’s going to be really intense. Every day we’re going to work out and get to the athletics.
Is that going to be the Migos gang against OVO?
It’s probably going to be that just to start with, but once he realizes those Migos can really hoop he’s going to want to mix it up.
Since we now learned that “Apeshit” was originally a Migos record, how did that get into Beyonce and Jay-Z’s hands?
I was in the lab with Pharrell. I actually made “Apeshit” and “Stir Fry” in the same day and hour. I made “Stir Fry” first, then right after that he pulled up another beat and we made “Apeshit.” I left both records and he sent me “Stir Fry.” I told him I was going to use that for the album. I totally forgot about “Apeshit” — I just forgot about it. I knew he was going to do something with it and then he called me one day saying, “It’s out of here” and it definitely was.
Another reference track that came to light was you, Future, and Young Thug on “Upscale,” which eventually got turned into Cardi B’s “Drip.” How did that happen?
That was originally Future, [Young Thug] and I in the studio and we did “Upscale” and I recorded a verse to that. What happened was me and Offset actually recorded on the same beat. Offset was somewhere else recording on the same beat, and me, Future and Thug are in the studio recording on the same beat. When it came about, it was a whoever wants it thing. We just came together for a meeting and decided to put my verse on “Drip.” We were all on the same song, so I guess great minds do think alike.
What are you and the Migos working on at the moment?
We’ve got a lot of top secret music coming. What I can give you is that we’re dropping a single first day of the tour. The first day of the tour will be a Migos single. Just to give the fans something new. We haven’t dropped that much new music but we’ve got feature shit everywhere. I think dropping a Migos record right before tour will give us something fresh and new to perform would be dope. It’s produced by DJ Durel and it’s crazy.
Is there any update on the release of the Quality Control compilation album?
Yeah, we pushed it back. We’re letting Control the Summer roll over to the fall.
Is Culture III the next step for you guys?
The culture never dies. It’s top secret.
Did you get anything special for Offset and Cardi B’s daughter Kulture?
Yeah, a baby care package with a whole bunch of designer clothes and baby stuff. I was just trying to do my uncle thing and make sure the kid was equipped with a whole bunch of gear.
What did you think about Trae Young getting drafted by the Atlanta Hawks?
I like it a lot. We’re going to have fun. He’s a young player that’s going to be good for Atlanta. In Atlanta, we get geeked off the highlights. From Dominique Wilkins starting that shit to Michael Vick, we come to the game for the excitement. Of course we’d love a championship but we’ve been shot in the foot so much and always come up just short.
I think just having great excitement on our team and then a championship comes would be best. Just bringing the culture back and influencing the youth with a good group of young guys playing together.
Let The Ice Trae Form!!!
Let’s Go @TheTraeYoung
Won’t Be Long
— QuavoYRN (@QuavoStuntin) July 7, 2018
How was hanging out with UFC fighter Conor McGregor?
Oh, that was fun. That was an experience. I didn’t know he was that cool. He’s a cool dude. He’s a great guy. Hopefully, I’ll go see him at his next fight which is supposed to be soon. We built a nice relationship. He came and kicked it in the studio for a minute. We all talked and had fun.
— QuavoYRN (@QuavoStuntin) July 14, 2018
How did you land on the “Boo’d Up (Remix)?”
I think it was through Nicki [Minaj]. She was actually in the studio recording and I was like, “Let me get on the second verse.” We were in the studio recording and working on something else and she said she was doing the remix and I was like, “Alright, cool, I’ll hop on with you.”
Do you think the Atlanta Falcons are going to have a good season?
Yeah, if they keep Julio happy. I just told him to keep his head up and play the game he was born to do and it will come to him. They can’t discredit hard work and his dedication. The numbers and stats are there. Atlanta needs him.