The 20-year-old producer just landed the biggest placement of his short career on Future's "I Won" featuring Kanye West. But Metro Boomin has no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Atlanta’s got a new movement going on, if you haven't noticed. From the musicality of Future and Young Thug, to the flashy and luxurious boasts of Migos, the city has reinvented itself all over again. One of the key contributors to the renaissance is St. Louis-born Leland Wayne, better known as Metro Boomin. The 20-year old producer (who now resides in Atlanta) has been on quite a run over the past year. He worked heavily with Future before teaming up with fellow producers like Sonny Digital and Dun Deal, and crafted tracks for this year's most talked about artist, Young Thug.
Metro’s versatility behind the boards has been an obvious advantage. He's racked up production credits on YG's debut My Krazy Life and Future’s upcoming sophomore album, Honest, both of which sound nothing like his output from the past two years. Future’s new single “I Won” featuring Kanye West is perhaps Metro's biggest placement to date, and its elegant sound is something people weren't expecting from the young producer. Complex caught up with Metro to talk about Atlanta’s youth movement, his relationship with Future, when we can expect his Metro Thuggin collab with Young Thug, and much more.
Interview by Justin Davis (@OGJohnny5)
You’re originally from St. Louis. When did you move to Atlanta? Because the first time I heard one of your beats was on Alley Boy’s Definition of Fuck Shit.
Yeah, I’m from St. Louis. I did a lot of old Alley Boy shit. I did “Tools,” “Four,” man we had a few of them. But I did a lot of old shit for a lot of niggas that people wouldn’t even connect to Metro Boomin today.
What it was like to work with Alley when you first started out? He’s a real gangster dude on wax.
Yeah I fuck with Alley. I sent him some beats a week ago.
Was he the person who really introduced you to a lot of rappers in Atlanta when you moved there?
He definitely was a contributor to the process. There are a lot of contributions, and I don’t want to give credit to one person. Alley was one of them. People like Tay Don, Don Cannon, and OJ Da Juiceman. Those were the core people that I rock with. And I still rock with them.
But these days you primarily work with artists like Future, Young Thug, and Peewee Longway.
Those are my big bros. I didn’t even meet Thug and Longway together. I actually met Peewee first. This was before I stopped going to college. I was at Patchwerk Studios with Gucci and Sonny Digital. Peewee was in there and I took his number because Young Scooter told him to buy beats from me. So I pulled up on him one day and he gave me some bands for some beats. He didn’t have any songs or anything at the time he just told me, “Man I’m about to start trying this rap shit.” It’s crazy because now he’s a rapper. Before that I just looked at him like he’s this nigga in the studio who don’t be wearing no shirt.
It’s funny because he puts up a lot of vlogs in house.
That’s where we shot “Ounces” at too.
He’s got one where he actually calls you on the phone while he’s recording “Sneakin & Geekin,” which you produced.
Yeah, that nigga is crazy. I didn’t even know he did that shit, or I wouldn’t have been talking how I was. I remember that day, too. We were on the phone and he said, "Man, we live” and I was like whatever this nigga just be high. And I got tagged in a video one day one day when it came out. Peewee crazy. That’s my boy though.
I think he’s one of the most underrated out of Atlanta right now.
Hell yeah, no question.
You and Young Thug have a project coming too called Metro Thuggin. Do you have a date on that?
Sooner than later. We’re gonna start rolling that out sooner than later. I’m real big on making sure everything is right and taking my time.
The first song from that was “The Blanguage,” which got a crazy reaction.
If anything it might be some type of bonus track. I don’t even know if it will be on there because technically it’s a remake. It’s not like we’re dropping a mixtape, this project is actually going to be for sale. We wanted to drop “The Blanguage” as an announcement. We could have just announced it and said “Metro Thuggin on the way” but it would have more impact if we put a song out.
I don’t think that people realize that you’re playing the piano on that song, too.
I did all that shit. On one part on the end I start humming [in the background] on that shit. I was just fucking with the vocals and moving shit around. At first there was no piano, but I just started adding to the beat. I was trying to do changeups because I’ve never really tried to do shit like that before. I just said, "Let me try to do some Kanye shit to this song.” It was just fucking around.
You tweeted that producer Honorable Cnote gave you the idea to remake the song as well.
Hell yeah. Me and Thug record a lot of stuff at my house, and there are a lot of people at my house recording. It was just a regular day. Thug was there and Cnote was over there. And CNote said we need to redo “The Language” because Thug was singing it. I thought about it too, but I just went on with life. Some weeks later I remembered [the idea].
You guys work a lot at your crib, which was described in detail in Thug's Fader cover story.
Yeah I didn’t like how that nigga did that shit. I rock with Fader. It was cool, he described everything to the T, but damn. I guess he had to write about it because we had a conversation about it. One of my boys had brought it up [and said] “Man you slippin today.” Because my house isn’t usually like that. I had trashbags and shit out. But people are at my house. Not all the time. But if I’m working, people are welcome to come. This was when I first got my recording set up, and Thug had started coming over there a lot more. So the Fader guy [came with him]. I was in the studio with Future, and I got a text saying to come back to my house saying that Fader and Thug were meeting at my house. So I didn’t have any time to prepare. I didn’t think he would write about it. Like, come on, man, don’t do me like that.
I still haven’t read all of that article just because of that.
Speaking of Future, his new album Honest drops in about two weeks. How many songs do you have on that?
I got four. Now that “I Won” has dropped you all have now heard them all. I did “I Won,” “Honest,” “Karate Chop” and “How Can I Not.”
“How Can I Not” and “Karate Chop” are bonus tracks, right?
“How Can I Not” is mixed now. I like it better now. It’s one of the sleepers right there. That’s why he put it on the album, because it’s not too late. “Same Damn Time” was the same way.
“Same Damn Time” took a while to pop, too.
It was popping in the streets, but it wasn’t until Pluto came out the next year when it popped.
Can you describe your relationship with Future?
I feel like our work ethic gets better the more we work, and the more time goes by. He was talking about this a month ago in the studio. It’s a lot easier now. We work a whole lot better.
The relationship between you, 808 Mafia, and Sonny Digital is dope. Can you describe the process you all have when you make a beat?
Definitely DJ Spinz as well. It’s like two artists who work on a song together, we just sit down and put [different parts] together. Two people making a beat is really like one person making a beat. But you have another person’s brain. So what might sound good to you, they could flip it a different way. It’s really a collaborative effort, really.
You’re also on YG’s album My Krazy Life. How did “1AM” come together?
I was there for that song. I was originally there to do more “down south” shit, because that was his whole purpose of recording [in Atlanta]. Which he did, and he put it in his own way. I remember the song we were doing wasn’t working out too well. It was over Doe B’s “30 Piece” beat. I was just going through a whole bunch of shit, and I stumbled upon a beat I forgot about. And he was loving it and it went from there.
It definitely worked out because it had that West Coast feel.
We worked on that record a couple of times. We did it once and then [I’d] come back into the studio and mix stuff differently in the beat. That’s how I like to work a record. And that is why I appreciate artists like YG and [his A&R] Sickamore. They share the same vision and it turned out great, and he made a great album.
Were you there for the recording of “I Won,” or did you send it to Future later?
I had already completed the beat. And I was in the studio with Future and Rock City when I played it. We were only using part of it, because when the drums dropped originally, it takes it to another place. We wanted to keep it with the mellow vibe. At the end of the session he had the hook and verse recorded, so when I got home I put it together. I stayed up all night and laid the beat out, added adlibs and the crowd noises. Just really perfecting it and making it a movie. And I sent it back to him and he was like “man, this is a hit.” At first he wanted it to be an interlude on the album.
How did you feel when you found out Kanye was going to be on the song?
Crazy. I had just got back from L.A. and Future’s manager had called me. And he said “send it with an open verse. Ye gonna get on it.” And I just sent it and he knocked that shit out. And the rest is history.
Are you planning on doing anything else with Kanye?
Hell yeah. Definitely grew up a Kanye West fan.
I feel like a lot of young people in the industry like Thug and you look up to artists like Lil Wayne and Kanye as major influences today.
That’s what we try to do with our music. I love the whole “young nigga movement” but we can still make power moves with the shit. Not everything has to be looked at so basic. You hear what Thug says in his songs—the musical level of it is so crazy that it doesn’t register with some people; so they call it trash. But anybody who loves music can appreciate what he’s doing.
Even Thug’s flow and cadences are distinct.
That’s why I think I work well with him and Future. All three of us are perfectionists.