2022 has undoubtedly been a great year for the trap subgenre of Hip-hop. Starting with Atlanta rapper Gunna releasing his third studio album “DS4Ever” in January, the streak of great trap albums kept on going. Whether it was NBA Youngboy dropping 5 albums, Lil Durk’s “7220,” Future’s “I Never Liked You,” or EST Gee’s “I Never Felt Nun,” I have truly enjoyed 2022 as a trap fan. However, when the Godfather of modern trap, Atlanta producer Metro Boomin announced that he was releasing the second part of a trilogy “Heroes & Villains” I personally had higher expectations compared to all other albums. He was the main producer of some of the best albums of the 2010s in Hip-Hop such as Future’s “DS2,” both of 21 Savage’s “Savage Mode” albums, and Travis Scott’s “Rodeo” album.
Greatness is what Metro Boomin represents and it was clear before the album was even released. In order to promote the album, Metro released an amazing short film featuring Morgan Freeman and Lakeith Stanfield, and the film sits at 2.1 million views on Youtube in 2 weeks of release. If the short film wasn’t enough to reinforce the themes of Heroes vs. Villains, Metro released 70s-themed comic book covers of each feature, giving fans the option to separate them into Heroes or Villains depending on their opinion. It was one of the best album promotions of the year, and it excited fans like me for the eventual release of the album.
If it wasn’t clear before, Metro is fully invested in the Heroes and Villains theme and the album begins with a great short intro by John Legend with “On Time.” The track brings an amazing mix of John Legend’s vocals and strings, before transitioning to Morgan Freeman. The highlight of the track was the sampling of Homelander from the Amazon show “The Boys” where Homelander mentions: “You need me to save you, you do. I am the only one who possibly can. You’re not the real heroes; I’m the real hero” bringing an exciting close to the track.
The album had many highlights, and not many misses in turn. There’s the track “Superhero” where Future sounds revitalized and back in prime form, before transitioning to a short performance by Chris Brown. “Too Many Nights” brings out a new and more energetic style from Houston rapper Don Toliver. “Umbrella” brings back the classic teamwork that Metro and 21 Savage have developed over the years, with Young Nudy adding on a great feature. It would be remiss not to mention the piano keys that Metro added to the Young Nudy verse, only increasing the majesty of the track.
There’s also “Metro Spider” featuring a more energetic Young Thug who absolutely killed his second verse with an amazing flow switch reminiscent of his 2019 album “So Much Fun.” There’s also “Walk Em Down (Don’t Kill Civilians)” featuring 21 Savage. The song begins with a sample of Gucci Mane saying “We represent destruction, n****. Death, mayhem, murder, and madness, n****. You try me, you gon’ die You try to score us, you gon’ die.” The highlight of the track was the second part, sung by Canadian singer Mustafa. His verse displays the other half of the violent themes the track and album portray. With sorrowful lyrics like, “Tell me how to cope right, So many dead friends, Your prayers fill the whole night,” and “Locked in the cell and you hearin’ that your bro died,” Mustafa attempts to, and successfully tugs at your heartstrings, bringing the song to a heartbreaking finish. The energetic side of the album finishes with A$AP Rocky and Takeoff on “Feel the Fiyaaaah.” It was the first posthumous verse from Takeoff after his recent passing, and it was phenomenal.
On the other side, there are songs that aren’t nearly as energetic but are built more on the vibe the song provides. For example, the two Travis Scott featured tracks “Trance,” and “Niagara Falls (Foot or Two)” provide a chill side to the album in different ways. I wouldn’t be a great reviewer if I failed to mention the biggest song on the album “Creepin” featuring the Weeknd, and once again 21 Savage. It racked up an impressive 30.2 million streams in its first week (the highest streamed song, charted at #5 on Billboard) and there’s a good reason for that. The song samples the 2004 hit “I Don’t Wanna Know ” by Mario Winan. Samples is an understatement as the Weeknd’s lyrics on the song are word for word the same as Mario. However, the song passed copyright laws, and the Weeknd performed better than Mario. With the famous hook, “I don’t wanna know. If you’re playin’ me, keep it on the low, ‘Cause my heart can’t take it anymore, And if you’re creepin’, please don’t let it show” the Weeknd captured my heart and those of many others.
What makes this album special is how listeners can tell the amount of work and crafting this album took. While Metro Boomin hasn’t been mentioned nearly as much as the featured artists in the review, the production on the album is among the best you’ll see in trap music. Whether it’s the strings on “On Time,” the piano keys on “Umbrella,” or the perfect sampling on “Feel the Fiyaaaah,” Metro’s touch is all over the album in a great way.
- Rating: 9/10
- Favorite Tracks: “On Time,” “Superhero,” “Too Many Nights,” “Metro Spider,” “Niagara Falls (Foot or 2),” “Walk Em Down (Don’t Kill Civilians),” “Feel the Fiyaaaah.”
- Least Favorite Tracks: Well, none