Metro Boomin Want Some More
Words by Paul Thompson

You may not know it, but you’ve met Metro Boomin. He’s all around you—rattling the trunks of cars at stop lights, reverberating from house parties and cookouts and dorm rooms and nightclubs. Just nine-teen years old, the St. Louis native has vaulted himself onto the short list of hip-hop’s super-producers. With credits that include work for YG, Wiz Khalifa, and a litany of rappers from his adopted home of Atlanta, the man born Leland Wayne plans to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

When I catch up with him by phone, Metro is still recuperating from a late-night studio session. Future, the eccentric pop savant, has en-trusted the young beatsmith as executive producer of his next mix-tape. But there are other pins in the air: his much-anticipated rec-ord with Young Thug, Metro Thuggin’, and a follow-up to his compila-tion 19 & Boomin’. It helps to trace his story all the way back.

After he finished high school in Missouri, Wayne packed up and left for Morehouse College, an all-male, historically black school in At-lanta. But as classes started, the pull of the studio became more and more alluring: “We would just be in the studio, over there on Gresham Road in East Atlanta,” Metro recalls. “Nigga, shit, we were there all the time.” His Morehouse career lasted less than ten weeks.

His first mentor was Atlanta stalwart OJ Da Juiceman. The pair met through Metro’s then-manager, Caveman, a frequent engineer for OJ. “We just clicked immediately,” says Metro. “He became an older broth-er figure.” Aside from some early collaborations—“Let’s Get High”, “All I Need”, “Ziplock”—the Juiceman’s value to Metro has come in the form of that fraternal advice. “’You have to keep it real’—that’s what he always keeps telling me,” Wayne says emphatically. “’Stay hungry, stay down.’ He could see how I was working, and he knew I was going to be [this successful].”

OJ was right. You would be hard-pressed to find a producer who, for the last two-and-a-half years, has dominated rap the way Metro has. Of course, you could make the case for DJ Mustard and the L.A. ratch-et movement, his stainless steel take on the Bay’s hyphy sound; sim-ilarly, one could point to Mike Will Made It and his chart domi-nance. But with Atlanta as ground zero for hip-hop’s new cutting edge, Metro is in a class very nearly his own—or one shared with Zaytoven, his close friend and collaborator. “Sometimes we just got in the studio, just start making our own shit on headphones, then might even pass it off and help each other out,” says Metro.

The friendly competition has worked wonders. Already flirting with star status, Metro is poised to take over the game to an even great-er degree. Earlier this year, he teamed up with Young Thug for “The Blanguage”, a slippery, intoxicating four-minute trip down a codeine rabbit hole. Metro’s beat is the canvas for Thug’s elastic variation on the Migos flow, where he bends sharp triplets to say things like “I fucked her, then wiped off my dick with the curtains inside of the Phantom” and “I’m one slimy motherfucker—the devil rides my back like camels”. “The Blanguage” is one of the sharpest, most inventive rap singles this year. Metro shrugs it off. “It’s something we did easily in thirty minutes,” he says. “Almost on some freestyle shit.”

The young producer’s relationship with Thugga is one of his most vis-ible and most important. The rapper, born Jeffrey Williams, is per-haps hip-hop’s most exciting young talent. He has—by a wide margin—the best singles catalog of anyone rapper in the last three years. Even while he lives under the thumb of a draconian label deal, Thugga has churned out enough avant-garde work to sustain him for the next decade. Metro has emerged as his most natural collaborator. But it didn’t come immediately: “The first time I heard him rap, I had to process it,” he remembers. “But once I did, it was…it’s so much at once, you know?”

Eventually, though, the pieces fell into place, as they have so of-ten for Metro. Their Metro Thuggin’ is due out this fall, and the two have grown inseparable. “He’s like a brother,” says Metro. “He and I will ride for each other 100%, no matter the situation.” The project, he says, sounds like “nothing else”: “You got all these other tracks of bullshit floating around…the people need something new.”

Such critical and commercial success—Future’s Honest, on which the producer played a pivotal role, has sold over 100,000 copies in the United States alone this year—has been jarring, but not unwelcome. “It feels great, but there’s plenty more to come,” Wayne promises. “[Future and I] were just in the studio last night until, like, 4:00 AM. It’s plenty more to come.” But as much as the upstart likes the limelight, he knows his limits. “Sometimes I might come up with a topic, or a melody, or some lines, a verse, a hook,” he says, on the topic of his studio sessions with Future and Young Thug. “Just last night, I was coming up with some stuff, and Future said ‘Go in there and put the hook down!’ and I was like ‘Hell no, you’re tripping!’” Metro laughs manically.

As of now, he has no plans to step back behind the mic. “That’s how a lot of niggas fuck up,” he warns. “I know my lane.” Yet when pressed about his earliest musical influences, Metro gravitates to emcees, and shows a critic’s ear when dissecting their appeal. “I was a hug fan of Cam’ron and that whole Dipset era. I’ve always been into flows—nowadays, a lot of niggas are coming with crazy flows, but Cam has always had that. All the melodies, all the little Killa flows. That shit’s hard, and nobody else can do it. It’s so him.” Also on Metro’s list of formative albums is Nelly’s Country Grammar, a local favorite from his childhood in Missouri.

What’s most impressive about Metro Boomin is his long-term perspec-tive. For someone so seemingly wrapped up in stardom, in the present tense, he is eager to let you know that he’s playing the long game. “All the seeds have been planted,” he says. “I just want to represent and bring forth how important it is to have a great producer.” He pauses. “A lot of people don’t know that.” Metro has also thought long and hard about what will keep his music fresh as time goes by. “For me, the key [to longevity] is that I don’t let my beats sound the same. A lot of my songs —even the most popular ones— none of them really sound alike. I always want to try something new.” If his work thus far is any indication, we’re all in for a strange, wonderful ride.
Metro Boomin Want Some More