The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
Metro Boomin’s Heroes & Villains arrives two years after he secured his second No. 1 album beside longtime collaborator 21 Savage with Savage Mode II. The sequel effort itself arrived four years after 2016’s Savage Mode, a body of work that helped launch 21 Savage into the mainstream spotlight (with the assistance of features alongside Drake and others). With Heroes & Villains, Metro ventures further into the darkest corners of the world. His debut album Not All Heroes Wear Capes dabbled in slight mischief more than it did deviance and malice. It was playful enough thanks to lighter moments like “Only You” with J Balvin and Wizkid as well as “Borrowed Love” with Swae Lee and Wizkid. Savage Mode II embraced the above-the-law mindset and all the mischief, but with a lot of flexing and braggadocious bars courtesy of 21 Savage’s trademark punchlines and infinite Rolodex of threats and warnings. Heroes & Villains welcomes thunder and gloom as it glorifies a world where bad not only occurs, but thrives.
On Heroes & Villains, Metro Boomin is merely trying to weather the storm – that’s at least one way to look at it. The storm in question could be the one 21 Savage and Young Nudy detail on “Umbrella.” A soul sample introduces the song before 21 and Nudy terrorize the grimacing beat. 21 threatens to make the “choppa sing like it’s Adele” while Nudy furthers the agenda by adding, “Switch on the b*tch, finna whoop me a n**** / Think I was his mama when I get done.” The thing about Heroes & Villains is you don’t necessarily know who’s the hero and who’s the villain. As Future raps about turning “into a superhero” on “Superhero,” he returns later in the album to say he “can’t save no hoe” with Don Toliver on “I Can’t Save You (Interlude).” As Metro Boomin the hero and Metro the villain shake hands on the album’s artwork, Heroes & Villains notes that we can be both in the same person. The world certainly needs saving, but from who exactly?
Aside from the album’s thunderous sonic and heroic themes, Heroes & Villains on the surface is another display of Metro’s fine and wide-ranging work. He shines as a conductor that soundtracks 21 Savage’s determined mission for retaliation on “Walk Em Down” as well as The Weeknd’s airy plead to go uninformed about possible infidelity on “Creepin.’” In totality, the flashy “Feel The Fiyaaah” with ASAP Rocky and the late Takeoff exemplifies the album’s brightest moments, while the gloom of Travis Scott and Young Thug’s “Trance” foreshadows the danger that lurks between the drums and hi-hats of Heroes & Villains.
A decade ago, Metro Boomin was a mere upstart in the hip-hop world. Now he’s a greatly respected producer who’s earned the respect of the industry thanks contribution to the career of superstars like Future, Travis Scott, and Young Thug. The beautiful thing about Metro’s rise alongside these artists, and others like 21 Savage, Gunna, and Migos, is that they continued to stay in touch and collaborate regardless of their fame. As Metro helped to soundtrack the stories of the aforementioned rappers, these same artists returned to help the chart-topping producer complete his stories. It started with Not All Heroes Wear Capes and continues with Heroes & Villains. It’s up to you to determine who the heroes and villains are, but one thing’s for sure, they sure know how to work together when needed.
Heroes & Villains is out now via Boominati Worldwide/Republic Worldwide. You can stream it here.