Heroes & Villains is gathered by Atlanta’s hall of fame producer and confidants in eventful battle between good and evil.
There is nothing left to prove if you obtain the career and track record that Metro Boomin has. His name is synonymous with the greats of the current era Atlanta’s rap superstars, which has made his name household. His catalog holds weight with records of the 2010 Mount Rushmore rappers of Drake, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West early in his career.
Leland Tyler Wayne has been so much more than someone who can produce for big-time names. He is the sound of the Atlanta trap music scene that took a serious burst to the top in 2016. From records like “Bad & Boujee” with the Migos that took over the world, to collaboration albums with 21 Savage on Savage Mode and Savage Mode II, and close relationships with Young Thug, Future and Gunna. It is undeniable at this point to doubt if he is one of the best ever. He has helped shift the region of Atlanta to superstardom.
His solo albums have been no different in terms of impact. His first full-length album Not All Heroes Wear Capes found itself at the top of charts like the Billboard 200. Add the seven songs off the album that also hit Billboard 100. There is something different to his albums when it comes to this formula. The compilation albums have gotten a bad rep because of producers like DJ Khaled over-saturation in his projects. Metro wants to portray a heroic movie of the superstars of hip-hop within his music. He has a vision that he wants to capture. That’s a testament to not only his craft but the motivation that still revs his engine.
The album rollout on his newest LP Heroes & Villains is box office material. A short film that stars Lakeith Stanfield who plays the obsessive evil villain terrorizing the town. Morgan Freeman as the calm, wise advisor sets the stage for the music to come. It is then followed up by comic book-esque covers of each artist who is featured on the album. It depicts their particular role and lyrics on the album. Metro has a perfectly thought-out plan on what he wants the album to look and sound like.
A quick dialogue on the introduction “On Time” by A$AP Rocky and the powerful sermon-like singing from John Legend lays the groundwork for the epic story-telling through the sounds. The 29-year-old producer is well-known for his eerie, grand production over the late 2010’s. That continues on the very next track “Superhero” with Future being laser-focused on bringing his best performance to the table. Adding yet another notch to the great year Future has had, he delivers this infectious flow sounding immersed by his own powers on the track. With each verse, he levels up and takes on the task of being the superhero. In the shadows waiting to attack is Chris Brown, giving a short ballad about the world being on his shoulders. A battle is ready to ensure as painted from the two artists.
“Ain’t having problems, I’m sipping the Barre Shoutout to Dallas, my bitch is a star Nigga get rich, better take it to war Piss on your casket, shoot at your broad Do you somethin’ nasty, roll you in a ‘gar Bitch get graphic, fuck me in a car I get you a brand new Rollie tomorrow I put a brand new Rollie on your arm.” – Future on Superhero
The darkness continues on “Umbrella” with 21 Savage and Young Nudy who have already worked together with Metro on Savage Mode 2. The piano loops and ominous vibe only sharpen the cold nature that the two have together. 21 provides a more calm, yet still violent aura about “clutchin glizzy’s with the fellas.” “Nudy is itching to get after the evilness, “Stick right here make some noise Grip on that bitch, hundred round, can’t avoid.”
Young Thug delivers the best solo performance on the whole album on “Metro Spider.” The haunting production is right up Thugger’s alley, slithering through the track with poise like he’s on the prowl. Thugger provides flow switches, a variety of melodies, and the best of braggadocio raps of baguettes. It reminds you of that scene in the short film with Stanfield lighting the city ablaze. The following interlude “I Can’t Save You” with Don Toliver and Future puts the exclamation point on a rather thrilling scene. It captivates a flawless transition
Other highlights from the album include the Weeknd’s singing on “Creepin.” He is wearing his emotions on his sleeve, praying he doesn’t find out about the wrongdoings of his woman. The two-part song “Walk Em Down (Don’t Kill Civilians)” works to the strengths of each artist. 21 once again conveys cutthroat energy, playing back to his 2016 vibes of the early Slaughtergang artist. The softer, poetic Mustafa flips the other side of what these killings can do to someone’s psyche. He wants his homies from the hood to go a different route, yet knows the predicted outcome. The late Takeoff steals the show on the outro “Feel The Fiyaaah” with his alive cadence on the very ambitious production by Metro and Thundercat. He saved an electric beat after A$AP Rocky’s disastrous first verse “shittin on a smile, like P like U”.
While the album has a lot of things going for it in terms of success, Metro’s vision has its hiccups. He understandably stuck with his guys to make this record, but there could have been a switch up in terms of appearances to get a chance to shine. While playing it safe with recurring guests, one, in particular, was bringing down the ship. Travis Scott. What his normal strengths have now been lackadaisical at best, and unlistenable at worst. Songs like “Raindrops” are what has been a continuous swing-and-miss opportunity for the Houston rapper. It’s a slowed-down track where he is rapping absolute nonsense to the point where nothing makes sense.
“I’m right now and I’m next / Put the whole game on my neck / I run it up, pills and chiropractor bills / You shoulda charged bills.” – Travis Scott on “Raindrops”
He has another drowsy performance on “Lock On Me” which might be the most forgettable song on the record. You compare his effort to his prodigy Don Toliver, and the gap is wide. Vocals, flow, and vibes are polar opposites of each other. Scott’s only redeemable moment is the hook on “Niagara Falls”, but even his verse falls flat on its face. His legend has grown more than his actual product, and that’s why he continues to get the features he does.
Metro Boomin was the director of this movie, and ultimately he was the star of it too. His production on Heroes & Villains sets the tone for the artists to show and prove. He seeks out the storyline of the pure battle between good guy vs bad guy and demonstrated cohesion. That has been the case for the majority of his career. His selected artists are tailor-made to the vivid sounds he creates. His consistency to this level of stardom has put him amongst the greats in the producing world and keeps the mainstream rap scene fresh. It is not only appreciated but admired.