Behind the Record: "Heroes and Villains" by Metro Boomin - Slay Sonics

Behind the Record: “Heroes and Villains” by Metro Boomin

American record producer, Leland Tyler Wayne, professionally known as Metro Boomin, is back with his latest album, “Heroes and Villains.” Continuing the motif of heroism from his previous individual album, “Not all Heroes wear Capes,” this release is a hit with critics and fans alike. The superproducer’s album is his fifth to reach top 10 and third to reach the number 1 spot on the Billboard 200. The album achieved 185,000 equivalent album sales and counting. 

It has been two years since Metro Boomin’s previous release, “Savage Mode II” in collaboration with 21 Savage. Prior to this, Metro Boomin had released his debut individual album, “Not all Heroes wear Capes.”

Highlander writes, “The track count of the album was 15 songs long, with each and every one worth the listen.” This release dives deep into new creative territory for Metro Boomin and offers the listener a track for any vibe. The album demonstrates Metro Boomin’s aspirations to reach above just chasing hits. He stays consistent with a wide-scale vision, a precedent set by “Not all Heroes wear Capes.” He ventures beyond a single trap sound expanding to sounds outside of the standard bangers. From a symphonic intro featuring John Legend to a reimagination of Mario Winans’ “I Don’t Wanna Know,” featuring the Weeknd and 21 Savage, Metro Boomin offers a breath of fresh air without sacrificing his classic appeal. 


From a Record to an Experience

The album has a feel that imitates a cinematic experience of actual superhero films. The album includes various high-profile features, symbolizing a group of united superheroes in a world where our favorite artists are our heroes. Metro Boomin’s very own “Avengers” guide the listeners through twists and turns in these tracks similarly to different acts in a movie. Both the intro and outro are beautifully produced and provide structure to the experience. 

Rolling Stone wrote, “Heroes & Villains is simply a DC Extended Universe-style action spectacular full of mock-operatic pretensions, all the way down to a clip of Homelander’s voice from Amazon TV series The Boys on “Superhero (Heroes & Villains).” Metro Boomin’s allusion to the Antiheroes in The Boys is juxtaposed with our expectations of the classic superhero. “Superhero” is the second track on the album setting forth the theme of hidden similarity between heroes and villains. In the eleventh track, “Niagara Falls,” Morgan Freeman delivers a narration that continues this theme as he discusses the similarity of the beginnings of both heroes and villains.


Excellence through Musicality 

A distinct feature of Metro Boomin’s work are the instrumentals. The beats are unique enough to be enjoyed independently yet invite vocalists to a sense of creative freedom. Such can be noted in Don Toliver’s melodic excellence on “Around Me.” This track has an instrumental that is unique and dynamic. The nature of the synths used, as well as their sound, change as the track progresses. The beat alone has a mood that is calm yet energetic. It invites a variety of stylistic choices vocally. Don Toliver delivers an expressive and dynamic performance complementing the spark that this instrumental creates. In, “Too Many Nights,” Don Toliver, accompanied by Future, further demonstrates his ability to match a beat’s energy. This track has an instrumental that is very lively and has a touch of that classic, moody Metro Boomin sound. The vocal performances highlight the instrumental’s distinction and just make the track a great listen.

21 Savage and Young Nudy deliver a completely different yet equally impressive performance on “Umbrella.” This track immediately sends the listener to a new world with a distinct piano riff, vocal samples, and complementary percussion before transitioning to a calmer, familiar Metro Boomin sound. Young Nudy’s vocally expressive verse provides balance to 21 Savage’s chilling, expressionless rapping style.  

“Heroes and Villains” is certainly one of Metro Boomin’s strongest releases to date. It is apparent that the record was well thought out and considered. The album offers a story and feels like an experience. Nevertheless, it delivers satisfying trap, rap, and pop in healthy balance. 

Andrew Shulov for Slay Sonics