Metro Boomin Comes Out of Retirement for Surprise Album
By Adrian Garces
Coming off an apparent “retirement” in April 2018, the Saint Louis producer Metro Boomin has come back with a surprise album with little to no media rollout. The only advertisement was Billboard teasing the title of the upcoming album days before release, “Not All Heroes Wear Capes.” His last body of work was a collaboration with Big Sean on “Double or Nothing,” which released on Dec. 8, 2017, so fans were anxious to hear his signature tag again, “Metro Boomin want some more.”
The album is scattered with a star-studded cast, including 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Latin artist J Balvin, and even more in between. The album does not fall in line with Metro’s past work of heavy trap music; it is grittier and darker, with more low and dark beat selections. I feel that shying away from what made him popular is purposeful, as his sound has been played out in today's hip-hop scene consisting of energetic tracks with little-to-no substance in terms of lyrics. This is Metro’s attempt to “save hip-hop” by focusing on quality music rather than trap music. This is shown with a mini skit at the end of “No More (feat. Kodak Black, 21 Savage, and Travis Scott),” where a man can be heard saying, “ (expletive) cannot listen to that save the world (expletive), we’re totally against that ... I’m here to tell you to keep rap the (expletive) same. He’s trying to save it, I’m not.” His attempt of crossing over into different, more serious music succeeded, showing why he never left his throne as rap’s most sought-after producer.
Kicking off the surprise album is “10 AM/The World (feat. Gucci Mane).” It sets the vibe of the album as gritty and melodic instead of hype. The production is very clean, with a very slow-paced, haunting beat. The record ends with a sample from The Loving Sisters’ “Save the World”, and nicely flows into “ Overdue (feat. Travis Scott)” with a quick yet subtle beat change.
Many of the songs in the album could be used to identify a period in an artist career. For example, “ Dreamcatcher (feat. Swae Lee and Travis Scott)” seems to come from when Travis was working on “AstroWorld”; the track is very psychedelic rather than energetic, which can be heard in a lot of Travis’s earlier work like “Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight.” Although appreciated, the song “Up to Something (feat. Travis Scott and Young Thug)” seems like a throwaway or a cut from “Days before Rodeo.” Metro combines these records together, making them mesh somehow as if they were recently produced.
Throughout the entirety of the album, it is noticeable that many songs blend into each other; if you did not check the current track, you may even think the album was one long song. Metro cleverly uses an artist to end one song with subtle lyrics or ad libs along with beat changes creating a seeming transition. This is seen on songs like “Only 1(Interlude)(feat. Travis Scott)” whereas the song dies down, the instrumental for “Lesbians (with Gunna and Young Thug)” begins creating almost one long song. He does this multiple times and often creates something beautiful.
A Metro Boomin album wouldn’t be complete without 21 Savage, as they usually go hand in hand. The chemistry between the two is undeniable and a breakout hit usually comes from a collaboration from the two. They both have a history together, collaborating on more than one project including “Without Warning” and “Savage Mode.” Their appreciation for each other is evident and even more when both decided to hop on a record. The Atlanta rapper even speaks on their relationship numerous times in the album, saying, “ Metro worth a lot of Ms (expletive) me too,” on “10 Freaky Girls.” He also says, “As long as I have Metro I’m gonna shine,” on “No More,” which also explains drug problems from 21 Savage, saying, “I feel weak for using drugs to ease the pain.” This is not a side we usually see from him, as he is known for his menacing verses about violence. However, 21’s open candor about his past allows listeners to hear an amazing final track for “ Not all Heroes wear Capes.” I say amazing because, although “ No Complaints” is “ the final track,” the song was released in early 2017, so I would call it more of a bonus track.
Overall, the album was very well produced, showcasing Metro’s versatility while experimenting with his sound, which at this stage of his career is very refreshing. The album could have done without “No Complaints,” “Up to Something,” and “Only 1 (Interlude)” in order to make this a more concise and current body of work. “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” easily earns an 8.5/10 and should be viewed as a reason why 2018 was a great year for music.