Unsung Hero | Kyle Kim
“If Young Metro don’t trust you, motherf***er you better run.” Morgan Freeman’s voice still rings in my ears even a full week removed from Metro Boomin’s newest album, Heroes & Villains. Despite his firmly established place as a superstar producer in the modern rap game, Metro Boomin really impressed me with his visionary ability to curate a cohesive album, taking his idea of a superhero themed album to an impressive degree through the use of comic books on his social media, cinematic narration throughout the album, and even a two disc separation into a “Heroes” side and “Villains” side. And so, here’s a song-by-song review of the producer-extrodinaire’s newest release.
On Time (feat. John Legend)
Along with the aforementioned Morgan Freeman lines, John Legend’s soulful vocals compliment Metro’s trap-heavy production surprisingly well. The much discussed Homelander sample is also fitting. All things considered, it’s a pretty good intro, although perhaps not really indicative of the rest of the songs, which are much more rap heavy.
Superhero (Heroes and Villains) (feat. Future and Chris Brown)
This was one of my favorite instrumentals upon first listen, but I will admit that it gets a bit repetitive over time. Also, Chris Brown singing, “Who’s really the villain?” is frustratingly ironic. Truly, what a terrible person.
Too Many Nights (feat. Don Toliver and Future)
Don Toliver’s vocals really shine throughout this album, complimenting Metro’s production really beautifully. The Future feature is really confusing, as the beat almost completely changes, making it feel like a jarring afterthought than a cohesive song.
Raindrops (Insane) (feat. Travis Scott)
This really feels like a chill Travis Scott track, akin to recent releases like “Mafia.” It’s nice and atmospheric, with a catchy hook and a complimentary backing instrumental. I wouldn’t say it's anything too memorable or mind-blowing, but it’s a nice listen.
Umbrella (feat. 21 Savage and Young Nudy)
As “Family Ties'' proved, when rapper cousins join together, it can produce great works of art. While this doesn’t exactly live up to the heights of the Baby Keem/Kendrick Lamar collaboration, the track does display each rapper's distinct strengths. My only complaint is that the beginning sample/instrumental is really interesting, but it suddenly devolves into a much more basic trap beat.
Trance (feat. Travis Scott and Young Thug)
The title really adds to my enjoyment of this particular song. The way that the instrumental sort of warps and reverbs really does feel like a trance-like state, with Travis and Thug’s vocals swirling around my head. It’s really interesting, although I could see how the song wouldn’t have the most pop appeal.
Around Me (feat. Don Toliver)
Another really great Don Toliver track. Like “Too Many Nights,” it’s catchy, smooth, and an interesting listen. I’m starting to feel like listening to Don Toliver in this varied sort of context, where his noted lack of variety isn’t really noticeable, really adds to his enjoyability.
Metro Spider (feat. Young Thug)
It’s Quinn Satterlund’s favorite, which should be enough to warrant a listen. Otherwise, I’m not the biggest Young Thug fan, but the beat is nice.
I Can’t Save You (Interlude) (feat. Future and Don Toliver)
For an interlude, this accomplishes a lot for me. It’s punchy and hard, while exemplifying both artists' strengths despite its rather short runtime. It’s so good that I wonder if it could have been a song instead.
Creepin’ (feat. The Weeknd and 21 Savage)
The popular and extremely hyped Weeknd song is, in my opinion, pretty average. While it's catchy and a nice break from the rapping, I think The Weeknd isn’t given a lot of room to shine on this blander trap production. If Metro leaned a bit heavier into the current synth-pop wave that The Weeknd is riding right now, I think it really could have been a contender for song of the year. But, for what it is, it’s fine.
Niagara Falls (Foot or 2) (feat. Travis Scott and 21 Savage)
This song has some above average production, even for this production-heavy album. I really like the way the beat kicks in and out, allowing each artist to shine during important moments in the runtime.
Walk Em Down (Don’t Kill Civilians) (feat. 21 Savage and Mustafa)
While the chorus can get a bit repetitive, I appreciate the gangsta rap approach that 21 Savage and Metro were going for here. Also, this was my first introduction to Mustafa, and he really does have a beautiful voice. I’m excited to see what he will do with this newfound attention.
Lock On Me (feat. Travis Scott and Future)
The more muted production choices and sing songy verses are definitely a change of pace, but I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan. Out of all of the artists to feature on such a melodic and acoustic song, I’m not sure if Travis and Future are the best choices.
Feel the Fiyaaaa (feat. A$AP Rocky and Takeoff)
Although I feel like this is another example of a slightly repetitive instrumental, it really is a touching sendoff to Takeoff, complimented well by Rocky’s bars. Although I’m sure the song was conceived prior to Takeoff’s untimely demise, it’s strangely fitting to his memory.
All The Money (Bonus) (feat. Gunna)
I really like this instrumental, and Gonna really has the opportunity to shine under Metro’s production. Like “Space Cadet '' from Not All Heroes Wear Capes, it’s clear that Gunna doesn’t need other features or intense production to make hits under Metro’s tutelage.
All in all, Metro Boomin’s new project is a compelling step in the right direction for the producer, and I’m extremely excited to see where his whole superhero theme goes from here. And, if you’re going to take anything away from this review, or the album as a whole, just know: Young Metro don’t miss.