Review | Metro Boomin brings together the brightest stars for new rap classic

On his second studio album, “Heroes and Villains,” Metro Boomin’s production shines alongside some of the best rappers, culminating in an instant classic with high replay value.



Ryan Hansen and Colin Votzmeyer

Producer and trap icon Metro Boomin released his second studio album, “Heroes & Villains,” on Dec. 2 as a contender for album of the year.

Metro crafts this project as a sequel to his debut album, “Not All Heroes Wear Capes,” mirroring its talent and varied sounds. He recruited some of the top names in rap for this project, and his production plays nicely to each of their strengths. “Heroes & Villains” is not without skips, but it still delivers some of the best songs produced this year.

The album starts smoothly with “On Time,” which eases listeners in with some beautiful background vocals and an A$AP Rocky introduction of Metro Boomin. John Legend quickly takes over to amp this intro up with his powerful vocals over a violin, choir, and hard-hitting drums.

Morgan Freeman’s narration surprised us toward the end of “On Time,” but it shouldn’t have: According to Genius, the famous actor narrated Metro and 21 Savage’s 2020 album “Savage Mode 2.” Fans of the TV series “The Boys” will be easily excited by the inclusion of Homelander’s speech at the end of the song that gives Metro a voice. All athletes should have this on a pregame playlist.

The opener transitions nicely into “Superhero (Heroes & Villains),” a theme of this album, with Future taking up the majority of the song. Unlike a typical performance, though, Hendrix does not drop any inspiring bars in his verses. When the beat switch comes, Metro throws in a miscellaneous Jay-Z sample, and Chris Brown’s singing is a bit too autotuned for our liking. Luckily, it’s only up from here.

The album quickly reaches a very high point with the third song, “Too Many Nights.” The beat switches quickly after Honorable C.N.O.T.E.’s producer tag, and it’s wavy. Who better to invite on this one than Don Toliver, his verses catchy as ever. Picture yourself on a late-night drive through the city when you listen to this one.

Metro enlists Travis Scott for “Raindrops (Insane).” His production does not stand out as much as Travis’ vocals do, although Scott’s verses are still bland, they’re interestingly reminiscent of the styles of each of his last three solo albums.

The song is only entertaining for his ability to switch up his flow, and Metro nonetheless keeps up nicely in a change of beat pace here and there. The two have definitely been better than this, but we’re not complaining.

21 Savage makes his album debut on “Umbrella” alongside cousin and fellow Atlanta-ite Young Nudy, reuniting with Metro after the successful, hard-hitting beats of “Savage Mode II” that catapulted 21 into stardom. This song is nothing crazy, but 21’s talk of “clutching glizzys with the fellas” will play in our heads whenever we eat a hot dog for the foreseeable future.

On “Trance,” Travis Scott’s smooth autotune is joined by Young Thug’s unique style for a track similar to the pair’s previous collaborations. The song is the second release from Young Thug since his May arrest on RICO charges, according to Rolling Stone, so it is nice to still see his presence in the rap community despite these legal struggles. Ultimately, among the strong field of songs on this album, this is one that doesn’t stand out.

Don Toliver gets another shot at a Metro beat on “Around Me,” nailing his signature auto-tune-assisted sound as he sings about money, love, and success.

Our heart rates really began to climb at the end of the song, when Morgan Freeman made his return to the record to pump listeners up, talking about the characteristics of heroes and making listeners feel as though they are heroes in their own right. It is a classic 40 seconds and makes for the perfect motivation to push listeners when they’re working out.

Young Thug gets a solo shot of his own over a Metro beat on “Metro Spider,” starting slowly as Thugger struggled to catch his flow on the beat. Once he did, he could not be stopped, with the incarcerated rapper saying he’s “bigger than the president” and that “now his whole life is a scandal.”

Metro’s ability to keep the album moving is highlighted fully by his production between “Metro Spider” and “I Can’t Save You (Interlude),” with Metro’s famous producer tag allowing him to switch the beat behind the listener’s back.

The transition allows Metro to segue perfectly from Young Thug into Future and Don Toliver’s middle-of-the-road interlude. As far as interludes go, this leads into the album’s incredible, star-studded second half.

Metro, The Weeknd, and 21 are like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh on “Creepin’.” This song was definitely a surprise, as Metro establishes his diversity with an ‘80s pop beat that uses the Fugees’ “Ready or Not” as its basis.

The Weeknd is the glue for a heartbreak song like this, allowing 21 to branch out and surprise audiences: He solidifies this song as that villain mentioned in the album title. “Creepin’” is different, so be sure to give this a run in your first rotation of the project.

While Travis Scott was lowkey on “Raindrops (Insane),” he brings more energy on “Niagara Falls (Foot or 2).” His lines are catchy, and Metro complements them with a lurking piano beat despite it being a rather conservative production from him. 21 broadened his versatility with flow switches amidst funny bars like “Porsche headlights on, Kermit the Frog,” and these really make this song a fun one.

On the other hand, the album takes a quick detour with “Walk Em Down (Don’t Kill Civilians).” The initial beat had potential, but it quickly gets overcrowded by way too much progressively added on. 21’s creativity drops off, and his chorus is beyond disappointing. With Mustafa’s part, listeners get bored. He adds nothing to the song, and it drags on way too long. Feel free to skip this one.

Getting back on track, Travis and Future team up on “Lock on Me,” dropping bars over a beautiful, string-led beat. This is the highlight for both of these artists on the album, as they perfectly accompany the beat with raw verses and minimal autotune.

Metro again delivers on “Feel The Fiyaaaah,” with a Kanye-Esque soul beat fitted perfectly for A$AP Rocky. You have got to let Rocky warm up a bit on this one because he comes in hard after Takeoff does his thing. In fact, Takeoff’s verse here might be the highlight of this album. Not to disregard his impeccable flow, but Takeoff’s alphabet-based bars make this one of his best verses ever. May he rest in peace.

In a bonus track from also-incarcerated Atlanta rapper Gunna, “All the Money,” is a braggadocious finish to an epic track lineup, highlighted by the Atlanta-based rapper’s smooth, calm flows. Metro still tries to add a little too much to this beat, but Gunna’s melody certainly saves it in a great finish to the project.

From beginning to end, “Heroes & Villains” delivers on everything Metro’s first album did. Although there are certainly lows on this joint, the highs are even higher and prove Metro is still a top producer in the game. With this album, Boomin has solidified a beautiful track record for his career, so we’ll wait in extreme anticipation for his third project in the coming years.

Favorite Song:

Ryan: ‘Metro Spider’ – Phenomenal bars, incredible transition.

Colin: ‘Niagara Falls (Foot or 2)’ – Closest we’ll get to a new album from La Flame.