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Metro Boomin Is Headed to No. 1 (Again). Here’s a Guide to His Music.

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Metro Boomin Is Headed to No. 1 (Again). Here’s a Guide to His Music.


Since 2013, Metro Boomin has crafted the beats behind more than 75 songs that reached Billboard’s Hot 100, including 12 Top 10 hits. The Atlanta-via-St. Louis producer has turned contemporary radio into a shadowy world of nocturnal 808 drums and sinister synths while providing breakout moments for Atlanta rappers including Future, Migos and 21 Savage.

Metro Boomin, now 30, emerged as a solo artist in 2017, but he has remained a vital collaborator. Two years later, he helped write “Heartless,” a No. 1 single for the Weeknd, and he oversaw the soundtrack for the 2023 sequel “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” This year, he was up for producer of the year, non-classical, at the Grammys (and lost to Jack Antonoff). Next week, he’s poised to claim his fourth No. 1 album with “We Don’t Trust You,” his 17-track collaboration with the woozy tunesmith Future. (A second project by the pair is due April 12.) Here are some of the crucial moments on his path to becoming hip-hop’s premier sculptor of sonic storm clouds.

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Released in the run-up to Future’s highly anticipated second album, “Honest,” “Karate Chop” features a kaleidoscopic mix of sparkling arpeggios and buzzing synths. Metro Boomin was not sold on the beat, which he had crafted before his move to Atlanta, but Future became infatuated with it. The song became the first charting single to bear the producer’s credit, released while the 19-year-old Metro was a freshman at Morehouse College. “I had no clue from all the records we’ve done,” he told XXL, that this “would be the one. But these days, the people and the streets produce the singles.”

Produced with Sonny Digital and ILoveMakonnen, the breezy, peculiar “Tuesday” became Metro Boomin’s first Top 20 pop hit. Spacious, ethereal and recorded at Metro Boomin’s house, the track’s disorienting, calliope-style melody and barely there drums leave an open gulf for ILoveMakonnen’s singsong vocal to shine. “Every song with him is like one take,” Metro Boomin said of Makonnen in The Fader. “Even if he messes up at a little part, he’ll leave it, so it’s organic and raw. That’s why people love it. It’s breaking the rules.”

Future’s first three Top 40 hits — “Where Ya At,” the Drake collaboration “Jumpman,” and “Low Life” — all came courtesy of Metro Boomin. The first, an ice-cold trap pounder that sounds like the tortured strings of a prepared piano, provided a blueprint for the two-times-platinum “What a Time to Be Alive,” the full-length collaboration from Future and Drake, where Metro Boomin served as executive producer.

Produced with the Oakland-based keyboardist G Koop, “Bad and Boujee” throbs with a creepy tiptoe. Following years of hype for the Atlanta trio Migos and memes riffing on Offset’s opening bar (“Raindrop, drop-top”), the song became Metro Boomin’s first Hot 100 chart-topper.

“I remember the Olympics was on TV, and just how the music was sounding, it sounded like some champion [expletive],” Metro Boomin said on the Full Send podcast. He decided he needed to make a song in the same vein. Produced with Frank Dukes and Louis Bell, Post Malone’s “Congratulations” is something between a moody trap song and a triumphant country celebration. The song, which eventually went 14-times platinum, became Metro Boomin’s biggest success of 2017, a blockbuster year when his beats also anchored Top 20 hits for Future, Kodak Black, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane.

Future’s first taste of the Top 10 marked the peak moment in a trap boomlet when flute melodies dominated Atlanta rap. Woodwinds carried many productions Metro Boomin worked on in 2016 and 2017, including Travis Scott’s “Wasted,” 21 Savage’s “X,” Gucci Mane’s “Both” and Kodak Black’s “Tunnel Vision.” However the flute from “Mask Off,” sampled from the 1976 stage musical “Selma,” became a sensation. “Growing up, flute riffs was big in rap back then,” Metro Boomin told High Snobiety. “It’s what I listened to. It inspires you and influences you to bring that back around.”

The raucous “Ric Flair Drip” marked Metro Boomin’s first major victory as a solo artist. With a melody chiming like a slowed-down version of “Tubular Bells” and a beat that recalls the high-octane bounce of so-called Los Angeles ratchet, the song — which has more than one billion Spotify plays — cemented Metro Boomin as a headlining auteur. Offset initially hated the song, thinking it was too “West Coast” and was furious when the producer sneaked it onto their debut collaboration, “Without Warning.” “I cussed his ass out when the album dropped,” Offset told The Debut Live podcast. “Then I’ll never forget, like three days later, we No. 1 on Apple and he like, ‘I told you.’”

Metro Boomin has declared horror movie soundtracks one of his greatest influences, which is quite apparent on the eerie, ominous “Runnin’,” a gangster rap giallo built on a single piano stab and a pitched-up Diana Ross sample. And that really is Morgan Freeman narrating at track’s end. Every unexpected offer “is fun to do,” Freeman told GQ. “I got to jump at it.”

This No. 3 pop hit remakes Mario Winans’s 2004 smash “I Don’t Wanna Know,” turning up the menace, mystery and, yes, creep of the original’s iconic Enya sample. Enya, however, balked at the song’s original title, the abbreviated “IDWK.” She sent a list of suggestions and “Creepin’” emerged the victor. “‘Why didn’t I think of that?’” Metro Boomin said he recalled thinking, in Billboard. “It ended up being a blessing because it’s the best name for it.”

Of the 17 songs on the new Future and Metro Boomin album, the biggest talker is “Like That,” with a fiery Kendrick Lamar verse that many have interpreted as a diss aimed at Drake and J. Cole. However, there’s no shortage of heat in the Metro Boomin track underneath it, which makes stuttering mincemeat of two ’80s Los Angeles rap classics, Rodney O and Joe Cooley’s “Everlasting Bass” and Eazy-E’s “Eazy-Duz-It.”



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