New Metro Boomin album hones producer’s skills

After initially being delayed for over a month, producer Metro Boomin has finally released his long-awaited second solo studio album “HEROES & VILLAINS.” Despite working in collaboration with artists for the past few years, this is Metro Boomin’s first solo album since his 2018 record “NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES.” The project was worth the wait, as Metro Boomin proved once again that he can make beats with the best of them.

The 15-song tracklist is infused with some of hip hop’s biggest names, such as Travis Scott, 21 Savage, Young Thug, Don Tolliver and Future. It is no surprise to see this caliber of names on the album considering the fact that Metro Boomin is highly regarded in the rap community. He is widely considered among the best producers of the 2010s, and this album further cemented his spot with his combination of beats, smooth transitions between songs and his ability to create a cinematic experience through music.

Listeners are greeted with a surprise on the first track of the album, “On Time,” as the main feature on this song is John Legend -– someone who would not typically be associated with Metro Boomin. However, it is a great touch on the album as John Legend provides a great introductory song over a gospel-sounding beat that transitions into a classic eerie Metro Boomin beat about halfway through. 

That beat flawlessly transitions into the second song, “Superhero,” where Future delivers one of his best verses of the year, including the lines, “Two dollar a half, ooh, that’s the cheapest one / Stacking these hundreds up, like coupons” and “I get to represent, money multiple / I’m at the top of the charts, unapproachable” as he is able to effortlessly flow over the beat. The song ends with a 30-second feature from Chris Brown, which seemed a bit unnecessary.

The next two songs are some of my favorites on the album because of their replayability. “Too Many Nights” with Don Toliver and Future is more of an upbeat song, highlighted by Don Toliver’s ability to put together a catchy melody on any track he appears on. The following song, “Raindrops” with Travis Scott, is a great song to blast in your car at night. One of Travis Scott’s best attributes is his ability to layer his vocals to create an ominous and dark feeling, and Metro Boomin executes this perfectly on this track. His dead delivery over the beat creates an addicting contrast.

My favorite song transition comes a bit later in the album between “Metro Spider” and “I Can’t Save You (Interlude).” Metro Boomin is able to use Young Thug’s voice to say his famous producer tag “Metro Boomin want some more” and then begins the interlude with a beat drop that is followed right away by Future. 

Despite all of the great songs in the first half of the album, the project peaked on the 10th song “Creepin’” with The Weeknd and 21 Savage. This song pays homage to and heavily interpolates Mario Winans’ 2004 R&B classic “I Don’t Wanna Know.” 

The Weeknd delivers an incredible rendition of the classic chorus, “I don’t wanna know / If you’re playin’ me keep it on the low / ‘Cause my heart can’t take it anymore / And if you’re creepin’ please don’t let it show.” The slightly remixed beat, even including Mario Winans’ vocals, along with The Weeknd’s makes this a late contender for song of the year. 

The momentum of the album continued into the next song “Niagara Falls (Foot or 2)” with Travis Scott and 21 Savage. Travis Scott is able to deliver a lively and catchy chorus, and 21 Savage stays with him step-for-step with one of his best verses on the album. 

The last track of note is the 14th on the album “Feel the Fiyaaaah” with A$AP Rocky and the late Takeoff. This slower-paced trap song with a lively beat of vocals is performed well by A$AP Rocky, and Takeoff delivers a creative verse, incorporating every letter of the alphabet in his lines.

Overall, “HEROES & VILLAINS” is some of Metro Boomin’s best work in terms of production. His ability to make the entire project feel cohesive instead of a collection of songs is a talent not many in hip-hop are able to execute. He was even able to get Morgan Freeman to narrate over parts of some of the songs, further pushing toward a cinematic experience. 

I do not believe there is a bad song on this album, and the only thing that I was left wanting was a bit more variety in terms of features. With that being said, nearly every artist featured on this album performed exceptionally well, mainly due to Metro Boomin’s ability to adapt to his features.

4/5 Stars

Photo courtesy of Gaby Tenda, Pexels.