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DEFCON 1 Reviews Musical Special: Metro Boomin’s NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES (With 21 Savage and Travis Scott)

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Yeah… that’ll be a no. Supposed-to-be-retired record producer and certified legend Metro Boomin’ released his new project ‘NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES’ last week, and it was underwhelming to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, Metro’s production was phenomenal (it always is), but the artists he featured, often redundantly, performed disappointingly for the most part. That doesn’t mean there weren’t a few moments of excellence, because there were certainly times where artists that I underestimated displayed serious musical talent, but, for me, ‘NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES’ fell flat.

I would say ‘let’s start with the good stuff’, but the album is so poor thematically that I have to go song by song.

10AM/Save The World

For an introduction, this song is surprisingly low-energy. Gucci Mane’s use of calm flow was cool and made for a song with a relaxed vibe, but it certainly wasn’t the correct piece to use right out of the gate. Anyone familiar with Gucci Mane knows that he isn’t the most lyrical artist out there, but he does have his appeal, and I actually think this was one of his better songs. Metro Boomin’ did a fantastic job on the beat. It was right up his alley: sinister, dark and hard on the bass. 10AM is a song you can close your eyes and escape to, but it’s nowhere near the best song on the album, and it certainly should not have been the first track.

Overdue

I still don’t understand how this happened. I’ve always liked Travis Scott. He’s not a very lyrical artist, but in comparison with most rappers these days he’s essentially Shakespeare. So, Mr. Shakespeare, wherefore art thou bars? It doesn’t make any sense, he rapped and even had a few good lyrics, the beat was fire, and still, the whole song felt empty. Travis Scott bored me on this track, and that’s a real problem when you’re the most sonically appealing artist in the game. Travis somehow made an uninteresting track with interesting lyrics. He honestly could have improved it vastly by making more background vocals, because if he had created harmonies to fill up the empty space between his lines, Overdue would have been a more sonically dynamic experience. Sadly, the best part of Overdue was its transition into the next song.

Don’t Come Out The House

21! This was easily the best song on this entire album, simply because of how naturally 21 Savage controlled it. He asserted calm, smooth dominance over the track with frequent cadence switches that kept it natural but exciting. Don’t even get me started on the whispering. I can’t think of many artists who could whisper two verses on a song and get away with it, but 21 Savage did. Those were, admittedly, the best parts of the song! His whispering was compensated for by the beat, which hit even harder at those points, and him saying “Y’all thought I was going to whisper the whole time,” was a hilarious transition back to the rest of the song. As I said, the production was perfectly matched with the rest of the song, so Metro Boomin’ did his job. The whole thing just comes together like peanut butter and jelly, making this an easy chart-topper.

Dreamcatcher

Come on Swae Lee. Swae Lee’s melodies on Dreamcatcher were average at best, but his lyrics were terrible. I mean they were like cringe-worthy bad. Like Michael Jackson bad (cha’mone now). Like dab backwards bad. This man actually said “you love me 5-ever.” We don’t do that Swae, we just don’t. The lyrical failures made me overlook any pros that he may have established as the song continued, because I just could get past it. Travis definitely did a little better on Dreamcatcher than he did Overdue. He rapped with a theme and sung with confident, hypnotic melodies that really carried the second half of the song along. His lyrics weren’t exactly phenomenal, but his flow was addictive and he rode the instrumental perfectly. The second of the song really stuck out, and it was, again, complemented by Metro Boomin’s excellent synthesizer use in setting the ambient atmosphere.  If the first half didn’t handicap the song, Dreamcatcher may have had the potential to be a masterpiece by Travis and Metro.

Space Cadet

This song actually made me mad. The extra-terrestrial beat that Metro Boomin’ so FANTASTICALLY created meshes synths, harmonies, hi-hats and a bunch of other musical mumbo-jumbo in a flawless beat that was absolutely wasted by Gunna’s weak, forgettable performance. His lyrics were empty and surface-level, and though his voice is sonically pleasing, his flow and use of melody wasn’t impactful in any way.

10 F*** Girls

(It’s not the F-word, but it’s still inappropriate, so I’ll let you figure out what it is.) The sample Metro chose on this song was phenomenal, especially since it immediately switched into a sinister, true signature Metro Boomin’ beat. 21 Savage did an excellent job on this song, I can’t lie. He rode the beat perfectly, rapping with a staccato (short and fast) flow that matched each little hi-hat drum. The chorus melded extremely well with the rest of the song, and though the subject matter itself was basic, 21’s use of clever, witty punchlines made it an excellent listen. Still, somehow, he was able to use a heart warming anecdote at the end of the song. Amazing.

Up to Something

The beginning of this song’s beat was so robotic and minor that I was waiting for the drop like ‘Metro, don’t do this to me.’ He did it to me. The song dropped so hard it shook my entire existence. The only thing that shook me more was the fact that Gunna ruined it. Throughout the entire song he used the most overused flow in hip-hop: the triplet. This Migos-popularized rap cadence is literally so played out that the Migos don’t use it anymore. Bruh. The song moved along sluggishly and had no subject matter to it, making it a track I had to force myself to listen to for the sake of the review.

Only 1 (Interlude)

Travis Scott pulled it off. Three’s a charm I suppose, because Only 1 was the crooner I was looking for from Travis Scott. The song sounds like a blurred, drunken Travis sitting at the piano and drowning his sorrows in beers, blunts and bass clef. He crafts beautiful lyrics that incorporate deep metaphors and powerful imagery. The melodies are harmonic and vibrant, filling the song up like a wide open room. The mixing (audio production) is stellar on this track and Travis’ innovative use of autotune (never thought I’d say that) solidifies his mantle as the T-Pain of today.

Lesbian

Skip.

Borrowed Love

Metro, you good bro? Three simp songs in a row had me feeling a wee bit sad I can’t lie, but I actually enjoyed Swae Lee’s performance on Borrowed Love. The song is thematic and melodic atop a tropical beat, which is where Lee shines. He sung his heart out on a very story-driven track. I was able to really sink down into the beautiful melodies created by Metro and utilized by Swae. I still don’t love this song, but it’s something that could easily be added to my playlist, and I would absolutely come back to it.

Only You

In the age of Despacito, this is easily a radio hit. WizKid, a very underrated artist for the record, outshone both Offset and J Balvin (two far more popular artists) on this track. I didn’t like this track, it was your average 2018 latin-American emulation-for-the-sake-of-radio song. Nonetheless, I can’t deny WizKid’s phenomenal performance in the beginning. He really caught my attention with a mesmerizing voice and commanding presence during his verse. Offset and J Balvin delivered their own verses, both best described as ‘meh’, but Offset’s excellent use of autotune and, in my opinion, one of the best flows in the genre of hip-hop made his verse listenable. J Balvin’s verse sounded exactly like his Miai song with Drake and his hit I Like It with Cardi B. This isn’t one I would save, and I honestly think it’s evident throughout the track that all three of the artists are more talented than they’re performances entail.

No More

“Took the metro, we were still boomin’.” Very clever Travis. Dude, so many Metro Boomin’ references have been made in hip-hop that it’s cliche. Please stop. Please. Travis was only on this track for about five seconds, and he didn’t exactly do great. Still, Kodak Black surprisingly delivered a conscious and emotional verse with meaning and depth. I really enjoyed Kodak on this song, and it was perfectly by 21 “UNICEF” Savage who, once again, saved this track. Just as Kodak’s average chorus ended, 21 picked up the slack, using heavy imagery to make a commentary on the popularization of drugs and their effect on him as an artist. The verse was both deep and sonically pleasing, and this was the true highlight of this entire song. So, once again, 21 Savage, this time with Kodak Black coming in for the assist, saved a NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES track.

No Complaints

This song came out last year, and both Drake and Offset’s performances were commendable. The beat was excellent, another sinister signature from Metro Boomin’. I actually expected a new Drake feature on the album, but I understand Metro, ain’t nobody trying to pay that Drake feature money. I respect Metro for that wise financial decision. This song is actually one that I like, despite the flows used by Drake and Offset being mediocre. Offset’s delivery was just so phenomenal that I couldn’t hate on the Vibe, and Drake’ lyrics, though not great, were complimented by a stellar flow switch that really brought the song back to life. I wouldn’t normally say this, but this pre-released song was an excellent conclusion to NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES, and I’d far rather have two great rappers on a track than one hit-or-miss Travis Scott song as the finale (and Drake’s ability to reference every member of the Migos in a single punchline was something to smile about).

The Wrap-Up

This ain’t it chief. ‘NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES’ was a star-studded album that lacked cohesion, theme, purpose and content. There were scattered moments of beauty, as is to be expected when you place hip-hop’s biggest names in the ring together. Still, most of the tracks were forgettable, and this Metro Boomin’ project seemed to only retain quality on the Metro Boomin’ side. Unfortunately, an album can’t just skate by on good beats.

 

Bad

Flickr User GTR182

 

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About the Writer
Kieran Armstrong, Senior Editor

I’m a senior editor for the Maverick Pulse. I mostly cover entertainment, showcases and news. I’m a Star Wars fanatic, I love comic books, and I’m...

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