For those not in the know, Metro Boomin is one of the most in-demand producers in hip-hop music at the current moment. He is behind many of the biggest trap hits of the past five-ish years, including Future’s “Mask Off,” “Bank Account” by 21 Savage, “Congratulations” by Post Malone, and Kodack Black’s “Tunnel Vision.” His solo debut, NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES dropped a few months ago, in which he expands his sonic vision over the course of a full length record.
Although the album is wholly produced by Boomin, he does not lend a verse anywhere on the record. The vocals are provided by the usual suspects; 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Young Thug, and Swae Lee (and others) all appear at various points throughout the album, giving it vocal variety and a collaborative feel that works mostly to its benefit. Album opener “10AM/Save The World,” (with Gucci Mane) kicks things off slowly, with Boomin’s trademark dark production and cautionary beats. Moody strings and piano chords set an ominous tone, and the gorgeous orchestra swells in the outro set an ominous and epic tone straight from the beginning.
This moody vibe continues for the next several tracks, as on the Travis Scott auto-tune crooner “Overdue,” and the dynamic “Don’t Come Out The House,” as 21 Savage alternates between a whispered and mono-tone delivery with his signature trap flow. Elsewhere, Swae Lee provides melody, as everyone offers the usual swag-trap punchlines.
The strength and weakness of the record is how Metro Boomin uses the artists that he helped break into the mainstream to his benefit, bending them and contorting their voice to suit his needs. At a run-time of 44 minutes, NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES does not overstay its welcome. The songs often flow seamlessly into each other, giving it a cohesive feel. Nowhere does it feel disjointed; it is clearly Boomin’s project. He is the visionary behind the release, and his presence is felt strongly throughout. The vocalists are simply along for the ride, and it’s fun to listen to what they bring to the table. They are there to pay homage to Metro, giving him shout outs on several tracks. It feels like a posse album similar in some ways to Kanye’s Cruel Summer (2012), which was a collaborative release from the artists on his label. Everyone on here sounds like they’re having fun, and when the artist is having fun, the listener usually is too.
But, this is also what holds this record back from standing out over other mainstream trap releases in recent memory. The features have a certain vapid quality to them, and while this is prevalent in a lot of trap music, it comes through in the fact that this is not their own record. This album is a good example of what it’s trying to do, which is make a moody trap banger that exemplifies the sound that Metro Boomin has helped define. If you’re in the mood for this sound it will hit the spot, but does little to merit listening in a different context.
Rating: 6.2/10 (It’s solid)
For info on our rating scale see https://notasound.org/2018/11/01/our-rating-scale/