The 25 Best Metro Boomin Beats

This is the best way to get to know Metro Boomin, one of hip-hop’s most exciting young producers.

Metro Boomin
Complex Original

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Metro Boomin

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)

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Album: The Life of Pablo

The first half of Kanye West’s “Father Stretch My Hands” suite is technically produced by West, Mike Dean, and Rick Rubin, with Metro on co-production duties (and additional production from others still). But the song’s most memorable moment—more than Kid Cudi, more than the choir, more than “she just bleached her asshole”—is that drop: “If young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you.” The ten words are taken from one of Future’s sessions for an Uncle Murda single, and they made Metro one of the biggest guest stars on one of the year’s most talked-about albums.

24. Shy Glizzy "Some Ones" (2013)

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Album: Law 2

Shy Glizzy and Metro Boomin aren't from Atlanta, but each artist has been inspired by the city’s sounds, and each has helped shape the current state of hip-hop in Georgia. “Some Ones,” from Glizzy’s Law 2, is music for the strip club, provided the strip club is the setting for an action movie’s climax. The D.C. native is one of the nation’s most distinctive MCs, but here he’s bumped off the marquee by Metro’s anthemic beat.

23. Future f/ Kanye West "I Won" (2014)

Album: Honest

“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)

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Album: Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World

The smart money is on Lil Uzi Vert to be the next Atlanta-bred rap superstar. For all the talent he possesses on his own, he owes a good deal of his buzz to a well-maintained Rolodex. The video for “You Was Right” drops Uzi, et al. into an Alice in Wonderland tea party, which is fitting: Metro’s beat is spare, but unsettled enough to feel foreign. The producer's great strength right now is that he employs a diverse array of percussion tools; not only can he vary the tempos and moods of his beats, but he can transpose himself across different sounds and drum kits.

21. 21 Savage and Metro Boomin "Mad High" (2016)

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Savage Mode is something of a minor masterpiece in sound design. For as merciless as 21 Savage’s writing can be, the album borders on ambient, lulling the listener into a false sense of security time and time again. “Mad High” is brilliant top to bottom, but the piano in the last act elevates it to a new level. Metro made his name with raucous, unhinged beats by the pound, but he’s beginning to show just how innovative he can be given some constraints, even when—or especially when—those constraints are self-imposed.

20. Future f/ The Weeknd “Low Life” (2016)

Album: EVOL

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)

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Album: What a Time to Be Alive

Subtlety wasn’t a priority here: even if it was assembled partially from scraps, What a Time To Be Alive was swinging from the heels. “Big Rings” is much in the same vein as “Jumpman,” at least in its aiming for a sort of breathless energy to stitch together the obvious hook and the more technical passages. More than anything else, What a Time was a tremendous resume for Metro’s ability to weave preposterous low ends into massive pop hits.

18. Young Thug "Hercules" (2015)

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Album: I'm Up

“Hercules” came out in the midst of a trumped-up Twitter beef between Metro and Young Thug. It can be difficult to discern, in 140-character bursts, what acrimony is real and what’s performative. Whatever the case, the reunited halves of Metro Thuggin returned with one of their hardest-hitting tracks yet, which culminates in a furious verse: “OK, first of all, I was doing this shit ‘fore I was rich” and goes on to denounce conference calls, to the delight of office workers everywhere. Unlike Metro’s earlier work, “Hercules” evidences his move toward dense beats where the instrumental tracks coalesce cleanly into a whole.

17. Meek Mill "Check" (2015)

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Album: Dreams Worth More Than Money

The internet was supposed to be a democratizing force, giving us all the information we could possibly want and serving as a platform for competing perspectives. Instead, we use it to make memes about Meek Mill. Lost in the digital din that has persisted for more than a year now is the fact that the Philly native is a tremendously gifted rapper—one who’s had, for years, plenty of fans without Twitter accounts. Metro knows just how to set him up, with a sparse piano line, cacophonous snare drums, and intensity that’s been dialed up as far as possible.

16. Young Thug and Metro Boomin "The Blanguage" (2014)

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Album: N/A

“The Blanguage” is a reworking of an album cut from Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, but the Metro Thuggin redux has become the definitive version. Metro drags the beat further into the shadows, making it twice as sinister; Thug opens by rapping, “I fucked her then washed off my dick with the curtains inside of the Phantom.” It’s one of Thug’s most mind-bending performances, with rattled-off lines like “I’m one slimy motherfucker; the devil ride my back like camels.” Metro and Thugger have gone on to make more fully-realized records together, but “The Blanguage” stands a cut above.

15. Schoolboy Q f/ E-40 "Dope Dealer" (2016)

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Album: Black Face LP

Getting an E-40 feature is a Faustian deal: you get the warped version of English, the inimitable flow, the decades of experience; and in exchange, you usually get washed. To Schoolboy Q’s credit, he acquits himself nicely, though 40 Water’s inversion of the Big Sean hashtag flow is a virtuoso​'s feat. Once again, Metro teams up with Southside, and they craft one of the year’s best beats out of what sounds like a radio closing in on the perfect frequency.

14. Young Thug and Metro Boomin "Speed Racer" (2015)

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Album: N/A

With all due respect to the nascent Migos Thuggin, the great tragedy of the 300 era may be the shelving of Metro Thuggin. “Speed Racer” is one of the handful of songs that were dumped unceremoniously onto the internet, almost all of which argue for the immediate release of the LP proper. If a major league baseball team added a video game-generated player to its roster, this would probably be his walk-up music.

13. Metro Boomin f/ Young Thug and Future "Chanel Vintage" (2014)

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The spat that Thug and Metro carried out on Twitter was incited by the latter’s tweets regarding artists who mimicked Future’s habit of flooding the market with free music. Even if the disagreement between rapper and producer was short-lived, there seems to be a cold war of sorts between Thug and Future: for how prolific each artist is, there’s a dearth of songs that feature the two together. If only we could live in a world with more records like “Chanel Vintage.” Metro’s beat sounds like he reimagined Lavender Town as part of Zone 6.

12. Pusha T "Intro" (2015)

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Album: King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude

King Push - Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude is an awfully convoluted title, but the intro to Pusha T’s latest project is anything but. Metro fills the role that used to be filled by the Hitmen, fiddling with the hardware while Puff paces the room, toothpick present. As Pusha eases into his elder statesman shoes, producers have an easy enough task—raise the stakes and get out of the way. Here, Metro conjures a soulful vocal loop and skull-rattling drums, and it’s just what the G.O.O.D. Music president needed.

11. Future "Honest" (2014)

Album: Honest

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)

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Album: Days Before Rodeo

On “Skyfall” Metro slips a crisp, danceable break in between Gothic bookends—in other words, the perfect canvas for Young Thug to show once again why he’s the most versatile rapper breathing. Travis Scott has nurtured a reputation as a polymath, borrowing liberally from those around him, no matter their city of origin or relative fame. And still, projects like Days Before Rodeo have acted as a counterpoint of sorts to the more legato sounds usually associated with his native Houston. Producers like Metro have been instrumental in lending him that signature sound.

9. Future "Wicked" (2016)

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Album: Purple Reign

The song so nice he placed it twice. “Wicked,” which Metro co-produced with Southside, first popped up on Purple Reign, the tape Future dropped with little warning in January. When Epic later decided to push it as a single, it was retroactively added to EVOL, the record Future put out in February (the logic presumably being that EVOL is a quote-unquote album that was issued to streaming services). In one of the grimmest pieces of trivia in recent memory, the Wikipedia page for “Wicked,” which is less than 250 words in total, notes that the song was being played during the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

8. iLoveMakonnen "Maneuvering" (2014)

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Album: Drink More Water 4

As soon as Rick Ross morphed into a critical darling, maximalist, opulent yacht-rap came back into vogue. And yet, has the last decade produced any song that better captures the glossy, Miami Vice-style sheen Makonnen trafficks in on “Maneuvering”? You can practically see the sleeves rolled up on the sport coat, the gaudy sunglasses, the racks spent on hair products. It’s actually illegal in 14 states to listen to this song in a car that has a roof.

7. Future f/ Casino "Karate Chop" (2014)

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Album: F.B.G.: The Movie

First, let the record show that the original version of “Karate Chop” features Casino, whose verse was tragically excised from not only the album version of this song but from the video version of “Move That Dope.” Second, remember when Rick Ross lost his Reebok deal after that molly line on another song featuring Future, “U.O.E.N.O.”? The same thing happened here with Lil Wayne and Mountain Dew, after he said he’d “beat that pussy up like Emmett Till.” Metro’s woozy, off-kilter beat is reason enough to set aside the controversy.

6. Travis Scott f/ Future and 2 Chainz "3500" (2015)

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Album: Rodeo

Travis Scott was always too big to fail. By creeping into the orbits of two of rap’s biggest stars, the Texan made sure that he’d have the assets necessary to make a splash on his debut. “3500” doesn’t disappoint. To start, it’s nearly eight minutes long; it also has that phenomenal staccato hook from Future, and 2 Chainz doing backstrokes in the bathtub and paying tribute to Cam’ron. It’s all anchored by Metro’s villain’s theme, one that he cooked up with the help of the legendary Mike Dean.

5. YG "1:00 a.m." (2014)

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Album: My Krazy Life

After struggling to secure a release date for his Def Jam debut, YG finally landed a hit with the Jeezy- and Rich Homie Quan-featuring “My Nigga.” And while he needed that Georgian push, My Krazy Life and its ratchet sound, overseen by DJ Mustard, was definitively Californian. So when Metro Boomin got the call to round out the album’s B-side, he outfitted YG with an updated take on mid- and late-’90s L.A. noir rap. The MC uses the space to flex his storytelling abilities through a flow that recalls the Clinton era.

4. Drake and Future "Jumpman" (2015)

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Album: What a Time to Be Alive

Despite Drake being a few years late on the whole Robitussin thing, “Jumpman” became the runaway hit from he and Future’s joint album, What a Time To Be Alive. Metro, who had a hand in eight of the record’s 11 songs, generates a fierce, propulsive sense of momentum. Stray shoutout to DJ Mustard aside, the song tips its hand toward the producer’s direction over the next year: the manipulation of tempo and ambient bass that would culminate on Savage Mode, his collaboration with 21 Savage.

3. iLoveMakonnen "Tuesday" (2014)

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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.

1. Future "I Serve the Base" (2015)

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Album: DS2

When DS2 hit last July, it was the culmination of a comeback narrative that stretched three seasons; a grim, alchemic mixtape; and two quick-hit EPs that put Future back in the good graces of critics and fans. It was a coronation. And unlike Pluto or Honest—and perhaps because of the tepid reaction to the latter—DS2 shed Future’s polyglot image and doubled, tripled, quadrupled down on a single aesthetic. The one left turn comes early in the sequencing, by way of “I Serve the Base,” a psychedelic detour for those who like Future but really like Def Jux. Metro builds the sort of paranoiac blur that only a hyper-focused artist could cut through.

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