Heroes & Villains Album Review


image courtesy of The Source Magazine

Ryan Livolsi

On Friday, December 2nd producer Metro Boomin released a masterful album that showcases his recent leap in talent and new arsenal of sounds. The album confidently follows up his critically acclaimed first studio album, “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” and does not disappoint. Despite Metro Boomin’s hardship this year with the death of his mother, he was able to channel that to create arguably the album of the year. As a producer he must rely on his connections with the industry in order to truly utilize his work, and this album confidently holds the industry’s greatest trap artists. While the album deserves a lot of praise it does come short in many aspects.


One measure that deserves praise is Metro Boomin’s masterful rollout for this album. Just days before the release Metro creatively announced the guests to his album with a series of 90s superhero comic book covers. These comics brought out some nostalgia and built hype. Just days after the comic releases, Metro also shared the “Heroes & Villains” short film which introduced us to an elite cast of guests for the album and leaked a few of the album’s tracks. The short film was done very nicely and surprisingly held a well written and entertaining story with very good visuals. Rolling Stone wrote, “On Tuesday, the musician released a short film trailer — featuring appearances from Morgan Freeman, Lakeith Stanfield, Gunna, and Young Thug — to tease his upcoming record, out Friday.” The guests in the short film are recognizable and built lots of hype and anticipation for this release. With all that excitement created for this album, it was still considered a smaller, less “important” album compared to other big name trap artists. However, after its release it’s definitely considered a dark horse in the race for hip-hop album of the year.


Metro Boomin displayed his improvement as a producer and as a story teller on his second studio album. While Metro’s first project continued to solidify his place as a producer, his album had a very noticeable and particular sound. While not a terrible thing, he was able to create some strong tracks with that sound but a lot of his different or experimental tracks/beats sounded shaky. With this album on the other hand, we saw him comfortably exit his “signature” sound and create new sounds that didn’t sound awkward or out of place. It displays numerous genres and atmospheres while maintaining a good story. The big names on many of his beats really come together to make them full on tracks. His songs are lyrically and instrumentally rich and detailed while not being overly-analytic and crowded. Pitchfork wrote, “Heroes & Villains, though, is more than just fireworks and big-name features. It’s an ambitious, detail-rich record that splits the difference between streaming fodder and world-building.” Many music reviewers continue to rave about the sounds on this album. A personal favorite off the album for me is “Superhero” which includes big names like Metro himself, Future, and Chris Brown. The song takes advantage of the previous song’s beat switch and uses it to create a very smooth transition. The beat makes anyone nod their head to the bass and 808s. Not to mention Future has an incredibly strong performance, which makes this track a go-to.


Metro Boomin demonstrates his new found vision for album layout and creation. I like how he used his strongest featuring artists like Travis Scott, Future, and 21 Savage in moderation. These artist’s make this album great. While I like these well established artists at the forefront of the album I think the inclusion of young, hungry artists would be a nice addition. I think Metro showed how well he was able to pair certain artists on to certain tracks in order for them to feel comfortable and at home without being stale. This was certainly a problem on his first album. Complex wrote, “Metro sticks to his strengths on this project while also adding artful splashes of randomness. Unlike Not All Heroes Wear Capes, those experiments don’t force awkward genre-blending collaborations (like “Only You” with WizKid and J Balvin), instead it places artists in territories only slightly removed from their normal habitat.” This new shown skill of control and vision really come in handy when creating an album of the year contender.


While praise for this album may be warranted, it should not necessarily bury any or all criticism. The album is incredibly strong and continues to showcase Metro Boomin’s evolution. However, even with his new variety, for me, it does sound bland and repetitive at times. There is still a comfort zone that Metro continues to settle in. I like the detailed story and atmosphere of the album, but I think on certain tracks it may have gotten a bit bloated with the addition of heavy transition attempts, unnecessary beat switches and complicated dialogue. Once again though, this album flashes some incredible talent from Metro Boomin but also showcases how Metro is able to confidently and consistently bring out the best from his featuring artists. This album gets a strong 8 out of 10 for me and I would like to see Metro Boomin learn from his subtle short-comings and adapt to create a near perfect 3rd album.