Following the release of Metro Boomin's resurgence album NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES, the Burbs staff came together to dissect and appreciate one of the year's most well put together projects that was selectively curated by Sir Boomin. Here, Burbs writers discuss, and answer questions from the album's best guest feature to the status of the hip-hop producer's placement in the rap game's pantheon.
1.) First of all, what is your favorite song on the project?
Ralph James: To me, "No More" is the perfect conclusion to this project, and that naturally makes it my favorite (I don't count "No Complaints" because it was released almost an entire calendar year ago). The pain of addiction just feels so real on behalf of these A-list celebrities who are still attached to double styrofoam cups, and backwoods as much as they are leasing the newest McLaren model. The regrets of fame have to become real at some point in their music, and this fusion of Metro producing a synth-less, guitar-heavy instrumental while Travis rips a chorus that sounds like an addict's against-the-grain ballad is just too perfect.
Carter Ferryman: "Don't Come Out the House", Metro's first of two collaborations on the album. The first time I heard the track, I was taken off guard by the "whispering" from 21 on the first beat pivot, but after a few listens, I really came to love the song. I don't know whose idea it was to have 21 Savage whisper for his first verse, but it's something I’ve never heard to this point besides the Ying Tang Twins on "Ms. New Booty". For that reason, I give points for creativity, as it's definitely a risk to do something like that. In addition, the song acts much like "SICKO MODE" in how it switches instrumentals more than once, and 21 compliments this experimentation from Metro Boomin perfectly.
*Correction, upon further examination, Only 1 (interlude) may be my favorite track on the album. Just give it a listen.
Jack Martin: "10AM/Save the World" by Gucci Mane. I like just about everything on the album, especially anything with Travis. There's something about this song that I just really like. Maybe the lyrics? I feel like I should find something I love as much as Gucci loves checks.
Hunter McNeeley: "Space Cadet" By Gunna, I'm not even that big of a fan of Gunna, but something about the melody he is rapping in, and the classic Metro beat just fits so well together. Makes me wonder what a Gunna x Metro project would sound like? If only Gunna was relevant a couple years ago when Metro wasn't "retired".
2.) What is your least-favorite song?
Carter Ferryman: "Borrowed Love" was an incredible disappointment in my eyes. Metro got me so hyped when he started the track with a sample of Wendy Rene's "After Laughter (Comes Tears)”, a sample that was used on one of my all-time favorite 90's rap songs, "Tearz" by the Wu-Tang Clan. For some odd reason, however, Metro cuts the sample off and gives us a lackluster collaboration from Swae Lee and Wizkid (two artists that don't leave much excitement to be had as of recent (especially Swae Lee)). Thumbs down.
Hunter McNeeley: "Borrowed Love", It kills me to write that because honestly I love the instrumental, but I really hate the lyrics and melody that Swae Lee sings. WizKid also just sounds like garbage to me.
Ralph James: For some reason, I haven't been able to hop on board with the latest Latin wave in hip-hop, therefore "Only You" bored the living shit out of me. I regret not having another Metro-based banger to connect with. This track just feels like a failed attempt at becoming a Mariachi band's most popping performance.
Jack Martin: "Only You". Like what Ralph said, the Latin wave just isn't for me. I get it, but I just won't go out of my way to put it on.
3.) What moment on the album made you say, "Fuck, I really missed Metro."?
Jack Martin: I feel like he never left. This album made me want more. The fact that he could get all these artists on one project and then just kind of toss it out to the world shows his prowess.
Hunter McNeeley: This honestly didn't happen for me.
Ralph James: When I think of Metro Boomin, the first thing that comes to mind is the infamous DJ tags that are incapable of being ignored in his music. Therefore, the classic Future line, "If Young Metro don't trust you, I'm gon shoot you," at the end of "Don't Come Out The House" was essentially all of my hip-hop wet dreams collapsed into one concrete moment. 21 Savage spitting alleged death threats, then he's immediately followed by Future and Metro's hypnotic tag. Yeah, that's when I knew I fucked with this album super hard leaving me thinking: MORE METRO PLEASE.
Carter Ferryman: Metro is so good on the keyboard (second to only Zaytoven in the modern rap game), and his utilization of "drowning" effects and strings is impeccable. That being said, I think that "Overdue" with Travis Scott was a perfect return to form, as he blended a sample with his own personal touches, allowing for Travis to do his thing on a beat that's all to familiar to his style.
4.) How do you feel about 21 Savage's whispering?
Carter Ferryman: See question 1.
Ralph James: I don't really know what he's saying, but I know I want more of it. Prior to this track, I didn't think anybody whispering could legitimately make me concerned for my life. I now think otherwise.
Jack Martin: I agree with Ralph. I'm terrified of 21 Savage and his whispering didn't make him seem any more approachable. If I were ever in the same room as 21 I'm not sure I'd be able to make direct eye contact. Remember that picture of him pulling a pistol out of his waistband during a fight at a pool party?
Hunter McNeeley: To me, 21 Savage is someone who could say the most suspect shit ever, but nobody would question him because everyone would be too scared to say something to rebuttal him. I felt like it was interesting and could be used as a marketing move to get people to talk about the song, overall though, I'm indifferent about the technique 21 presents.
5.) Are all of these Atlanta-inspired rappers (Thugger, Gunna, Kodak, Travis, etc.) better on Metro Boomin produced tracks than they are on their own other-people-produced solo albums?
Ralph James: Metro Boomin is the perfect catalyst for these spitters to swim to when they’re in need for a pick me up single. That’s just always the way that it’s has been, people ride waves off of Metro beats for months and, sometimes, years of dominance. Metro produces a swagger in other artists while he’s cooking up instrumentals. 21 blew up after his collab project Savage Mode with the St. Louis rep, and Offset evolved into one of the game’s most coveted lyricists after “No Complaints”. I just like the way Gunna sounds on Boomin beats more than LondonOnDaTrack’s.
Jack Martin: I don't know if I'd say better. It's rare they sound bad on a Metro track. Probably different? It just seems like the standard to put out a hit with Metro, but I like when artists expand and work with different producers and experiment with different styles.
Hunter McNeeley: No, no explanation needed.
Carter Ferryman: Does Jay-Z sound better on a Yeezy-produced song? Does Drake sound better on a 40-produced song? I'll let the reader answer this one.
Ralph James: I'm an optimist, some of the time, so naturally I didn't believe the report when I heard it. But, hypothetically, let's say that Metro did retire from hip-hop, I think I would have to as well. It's like when LeBron will inevitably have to retire due to father time, I'll react like: what the fuck, who am I going to root for now?
Jack Martin: Not really. Why would he? I feel like artists are doing such big numbers right now that it'd be hard to sit back and watch if I were in Metro's shoes. If Travis and Drake are going to be cranking out chart-toppers, why not have your beats backing up their sermons?
Hunter McNeeley: When I first heard that Metro was retiring, I was like 50/50. 50% of me was like "Okay, this is bullshit, no way he retires," while the other 50% of me was like, "Okay, good for him, this young man got his money and now he's gonna chill for life!" After a while of him not releasing anything I was convinced he was done (he for sure was ghost-producing). This album proves I'm ignorant, I guess.
Carter Ferryman: No. I'm a realist, and if there's money involved to the degree that a big name producer can make, there's no way he even thought about retiring. It was a marketing ploy, nothing more, nothing less.
7.) Is Metro Boomin's style more similar to that of Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan?
Carter Ferryman: Magic Johnson. He's a producer (assisting the rappers on his tracks), but his sheer glamour and expertise with each beat he makes overshadows the "players" he's dishing the rock to.
Ralph James: I feel like he's a blend between the two, a la LeBron James. Metro has the innate ability to lift those he's around, which is Magic-esque, but he also has the ability to completely take over as an individual through his instrumental sorcery rendering some guest appearances less valuable because almost any glorified artist could fill in and do a spectacular job. Say, if you were to take 21 Savage off of "10 Freaky Girls" and you fill in Lil Wayne instead, the song would perhaps be even more valuable.
The same way if you took Scottie Pippen off the '96 Bulls and replaced him with '85 Dominique Wilkins, the results may be relatively similar, but the highlights are going to be even more mesmerizing, awe-inspiring and game-changing.
Jack Martin: Jordan. I feel like Metro is so good at getting the best artists on his other-worldly beats it's probably like how Jordan felt anytime he stepped onto the United Center's court. Just sheer power and dominance. Just fuck-your-face, no regards for those around them. (Do you think players secretly liked being dunked on by Jordan? I think I would. "Jordan dunked on me and put his balls in my face in front of 20,000 people." That'd be cool to tell people.)
Hunter McNeeley : I'm gonna say MJ because he's so well known and I can just listen to a Metro beat with nobody else on it, but if he can produce Perfect Timing 2 and have NAV sound listenable (seriously NAV, wtf happened) maybe I'll consider the Magic Johnson parallel more.
8.) Which artist stands out the most aside from the Faded Fresh Prince of Producers? (Gunna, Travis Scott, Young Thug, Swae Lee, 21 Savage, or Kodak Black)
Jack Martin: Gunna. He's everywhere now, which is not a bad thing. As he continues to become more of a household name, Gunna is working with more and more hip-hop superstars. If you think he's a star now, just wait.
Carter Ferryman: I'm really, really trying to ride the Gunna wave, but I just don't see the appeal. All I see is a generic rapper who has been carried by Young Thug since his inception; there's just nothing that sets him apart as a unique artist in my eyes (maybe his flow, I guess?). That being said, I think Travis and 21 were the best features on this project.
Ralph James: Despite my intense bias of "Young Thug and Travis Scott are better than every rapper at every thing," I believe that Gunna out shined the rest of Metro's supporting cast on this project.
"Space Cadet" and "Lesbian" capture me in a manner that few other Gunna tracks have in the past. Metro and Gunna feel like the perfect ATLiens marriage made in a promethazine-drenched heaven.
Hunter McNeeley: Kodak Black, in a bad way. Seriously, please take a page out of Metro's book and retire, just don't come back.
9.) Finish this sentence: "Metro Boomin is the _____________ producer in the game right now."
Hunter McNeeley: "Most *established and marketable" *For the new wave*
Ralph James: "Best" I don't even think there's a close second honestly. I have all the respect in the world for Kenny Beats, Tay Keith, Kanye West, Boi1Da, 40, and DJ Esco, but, with that being said, Metro is so far ahead of everybody else as far as elevating other people's performances go.