Whilst not all of the Heroes & Villains’ ideas land, Metro Boomin utilises his extensive contact book to create one of the better trap albums of the year.
It’s not been an easy year for Metro Boomin. He has revealed as much on social media, lamenting how “crying everyday is the new normal” following the death of his mother in a murder-suicide. It would therefore have been understandable and even expected if the St. Louis’ producer had taken a step back to grieve. Instead, however, it seems Metro has channelled much of his recent energy into his music: a brilliant album rollout, coupled with almost every big name in trap music, sees Metro release one of the better trap albums of the year.
Undoubtedly, being a producer, Metro relies heavily on his connections and who he is able to recruit for his album. He is lucky, then, that he seems to have every contact in the rap scene. The opening track ‘On Time’ sets the tone for Heroes & Villains, as the song transitions John Legend’s gospel chanting into a drum heavy section, before closing with monologues from A$AP Rocky and Morgan Freeman, foreshadowing the clash of genres and artists that appear throughout the record.
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Indeed, Metro finds some considerable success in these crossovers. ‘Creepin’ sees The Weeknd and 21 Savage deliver verses about infidelity and ignorance, in a song that begins as something that could be found off The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy, before Metro’s drums transform it into a track much more suited to the sound of Heroes & Villains.
21 Savage does a bulk of the heavy lifting on the record, appearing in the hard-hitting ‘Umbrella’ before a three-track stretch starting with ‘Creepin’, and whilst the magic of the track is not entirely repeated in Savage’s subsequent efforts, he proves an able sparring partner for Travis Scott on ‘Niagara Falls,’ before Mustafa delivers a mesmerising close to ‘Don’t Kill Civilians.’
Whilst the bulk of 21 Savage’s appearances are clustered together, the crux of the record is formed by recurring features from Future and Travis Scott, and less-so Don Toliver. Travis remains one of the most versatile artists, slowing down the flow of the album on ‘Raindrops’ before providing an alley-oop for Young Thug to provide a signature verse on ‘Trance.’
Heroes & Villains is by no means groundbreaking, but it proves to be an enjoyable record even if it at times feels overwhelmed by the big-names and nonstop features. It would have been interesting to see Metro build off the Hero/Villain concept more, an idea which is ultimately confined to short monologues and a Jay-Z ‘So Appalled’ sample.
At heart, the album attempts to accommodate too many artists. Don Toliver’s recurring presence becomes frustratingly mundane, especially when coupled with Future on several songs in which the rapper steals the show. ‘Feel The Fiyaaaah,’ whilst a good track, is almost haunting as Takeoff features on his first song following his death. Despite this, Metro Boomin still succeeds in releasing an entertaining record, made all the more impressive when considering his current circumstances.