Metro Boomin is everywhere. For a while, you could only catch beatmaker blasting from the open windows of passing cars or seeping out from the fire-escape doors at strip clubs, but in the past couple of years, the St. Louis-bred, Atlanta-based producer has embedded himself in the pop charts and atop the list of the industry’s most trusted hitmakers.
One of the 23-year-old’s beat tags became a signature moment on Kanye West’s latest album; he handled the entirety of Savage Mode, his extraordinary, experimental record with 21 Savage. He’s working with his idols (Gucci Mane), his longtime creative peers (Future, Young Thug), and, finally, with up-and-comers looking to him for guidance (Lil Uzi Vert). He’s also learned to deal in a variety of disparate sounds, revealing an unshakable sense for what makes a song tick.
What follows are 25 of his best beats; with respect to “Crib in My Closet,” they serve as the perfect primer to understand one of hip-hop’s most exciting young artists.
And be sure to check out Metro when he performs at ComplexCon on Saturday, Nov. 5. You can purchase tickets here.
25. Kanye West f/ Kid Cudi and Kelly Price "Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1" (2016)
24. Shy Glizzy "Some Ones" (2013)
23. Future f/ Kanye West "I Won" (2014)
“I Won” is the song most often cited when people point to Honest as Future’s creative low point. Some of that is because happy monogamy can read as boring and soft; more is due to Kanye’s weak verse (“Every time I score, it’s like the Super Bowl.”) Metro is the one actor here who comes out unscathed: the melodies are no doubt tailored for lavish beach vacations, but the drums are punishing. The songwriting doesn’t hold up, but if you tune out the vocals just enough, it’s worth the car rotation.
22. Lil Uzi Vert "You Was Right" (2016)
21. 21 Savage and Metro Boomin "Mad High" (2016)
20. Future f/ The Weeknd “Low Life” (2016)
While Future’s output this year has slowed down after the fever pitch of the previous 18 months, there have been major landmarks. “Low Life,” his EVOL collaboration with The Weeknd—who also enjoyed a major uptick in popularity over the same span—has enjoyed regular rotation across the continent, playing to each artist’s debaucherous strengths. While Metro’s best known for his anthemic, maximalist work, here he gives Future and Abel the negative space they need to get kicked out of luxury hotels over and over again.
19. Drake and Future "Big Rings" (2015)
18. Young Thug "Hercules" (2015)
17. Meek Mill "Check" (2015)
16. Young Thug and Metro Boomin "The Blanguage" (2014)
15. Schoolboy Q f/ E-40 "Dope Dealer" (2016)
14. Young Thug and Metro Boomin "Speed Racer" (2015)
13. Metro Boomin f/ Young Thug and Future "Chanel Vintage" (2014)
12. Pusha T "Intro" (2015)
11. Future "Honest" (2014)
Honest has been unfairly maligned by fans and critics alike, reduced to a set piece in Future’s career arc, a fall before the rise. It’s actually an extraordinarily varied album, and the last time we really got the naked, R&B Future (“I Be U”). And its Metro-produced title track is one of Future’s greatest performances. From the falsetto (“I tell the truuuuuuuuth”) to the hundred-thousand on watches, the whole thing operates at a fever pitch, and now feels like a relic from a period when Future would bend genres and buck expectations with ease.
10. Travis Scott f/ Young Thug "Skyfall" (2014)
9. Future "Wicked" (2016)
8. iLoveMakonnen "Maneuvering" (2014)
7. Future f/ Casino "Karate Chop" (2014)
6. Travis Scott f/ Future and 2 Chainz "3500" (2015)
5. YG "1:00 a.m." (2014)
4. Drake and Future "Jumpman" (2015)
3. iLoveMakonnen "Tuesday" (2014)
Album: ILoveMakonnen EP
Pop songs trend towards the middle, or at least toward whatever’s been proven to work at radio in the last handful of months. “Tuesday” transcended what normally works in pop because it was so...weird. Co-produced with Sonny Digital, Makonnen’s breakthrough single turned the social calendar on its ear, thinned his voice to its base elements, and even landed him that ill-fated deal with a certain Canadian. Makonnen sings like a rapper and raps like a singer; he’s a completely singular vocalist. His time under house arrest must have left his view of nightlife half-obscured and dreamlike, the pocket that Metro and Sonny open up so beautifully.
2. Travis Scott f/ Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan "Mamacita" (2014)
Album: Days Before Rodeo
When Pusha T and Kendrick Lamar dropped their collaboration, the Nottz and Kanye West-produced “Nosetalgia,” it was an event—not only because of the two MCs’ show-stopping verses, but because the song continued the minimalist arc that started with “Numbers on the Board.” But “Mamacita,” which Metro furnished for Travis Scott, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan, takes an even more languid approach to flipping Bobby Bland’s “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right.” It articulates Days Before Rodeo’s Western vibe and sets the stage perfectly for the Rich Gang showdown at high noon.