There are a few unique challenges in making an album like this. The first is obviously that it’s a movie soundtrack, and while the songs exist independently, there comes narrative pressures as well, the storytelling occasionally interspersed into the songs themselves. The second, especially in this genre, is creating an album suitable for a movie aimed at children and adults alike – i.e. no swearing and none of hip-hop’s more… unsavoury topics.
A third obstacle, present in all Metro Boomin albums, but particularly pronounced on a collaborative album like this, is bringing together such an array of talent and styles, and making them click on a coherent project. Metro Boomin Presents Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse succeeds in each of these categories.
This thing is absolutely star-studded. Swae Lee and Lil Wayne – who both appeared on the first movie’s soundtrack as well – feature on the opening track, and are joined by Offset. A$AP Rocky shows he’s still making very good music on the second track, ‘Am I Dreaming’, which is one of the album’s standouts and also features Roisee. ‘All The Way Live’ is another great tune, with Future and Lil Uzi Vert complimenting each other well.
Offset appears again on ‘Danger (Spider)’, where he joins forces with Dreamville’s JID. The first half of the song basically just sees the two repeat the titular words back to each other, however once JID starts properly rapping, things truly take off.
‘Hummingbird’ feels like the album’s centrepiece, the stripped-back track with James Blake slowing things down. It drags on a bit. A couple of minutes could potentially be trimmed off the track, but it’s picking hairs, particularly when it’s not clear how the length of these songs fits into the narrative of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.
One of the only tracks I didn’t enjoy was the A Boogie wit da Hoodie-led ‘Calling’. Coi Lerai also appears on ‘Calling’, but it is her contribution on ‘Self Love’ a couple of tracks later that elevates it to arguably the best song on the album. It appears to focus on Gwen Stacy, coming from her point of view as she grapples with life in the city and the doomed relationship with Spiderman.
‘Silk and Cologne’ sees Offset’s third appearance at what is still only the halfway point in the album, and also marks his best involvement. It’s an upbeat song with a good tempo set by Metro Boomin and EI8HT.
James Blake returns on ‘Nonviolent Communication’, which sounds a little like something off A$AP Rocky’s Testing. There’s a slightly misplaced 21 Savage verse; the London-native unable to match the quality of the rest of the song. It falls to Nas to round things off, which he does with typical aplomb and gravitas.
The production from Metro Boomin is elite from top to bottom. He navigates changes in mood effortlessly, the 47 minutes flowing better than many other albums made without the framework of a pre-existing movie. Because, instead of seeing this as a constraint for the music, the film is used as a visual platform from which Metro Boomin and his impressive cast create a brilliant project.