In China, it’s the year of the Rooster. In the US, we’ll have to call it the year of Trump. But, in the hip hop world, it’s undeniably the year of the collab album. Across the genres spectrum, heavy hitters have been joining forces and releasing music accredited to two sources, as opposed to the archetype one, leaving the click-happy audience robust with bangers, ballads and anthems with some of the biggest brands available. November was dense with akimbo releases, illustrated by Thug x Futures Super Slimey, Jada x Fabolous’ Nightmare on Elm Street, and Offset x Quality Control x 21’s, Without Warning. G-Eazy x Carnage also parented their Step Brothers release, before the elder talents of Styles P x Talib Kweli shared their efforts on The Seven. We also dug into the archives and found the formerly anticipated T-Wayne hidden in plain site, fostered by long time affiliates T-Pain and Lil Wayne. Now, while most collaborations are quarterbacked by two lyricists, only one producer has the credential tact to be listed as a co-broker on a hip hop deal that fruitions into real estate atop the Billboard Charts…Metro Boomin’. As the 24-year-old ATLien transitions from mere beat maker to full-fledged producer, his partners in studio crime are ripe to share the profits as his ad libs and hard-hitting tracks are the engineer-equivalent to Drakes vocals. Metro Boomin offers the Midas Touch…everything he is on, inevitably, turns to hip hop gold. Keep in mind that Big Sean is an alchemist himself and capable of the very same metal work, which is why his wall of fame is lined in Silver, Platinum, and Gold (records). With such star power, the coterie needed just a week of promo to drop Double or Nothing, before catching our attention with 10 tracks fit for both state college pregames and Miami nightclubs. As with all successful collaborative efforts in this world, elements from both artists should be prevalent, to fairly accredit the project to both entities, rather than the solo effort. Big Sean and Metro Boomin delivered and long story short, you’re going to like this one.
Big Sean was just the most recent titan of industry to reach out to Metro Boomin to Bonnie and Clyde the next chart heist. Another hat tip to symbiotic creationism, Double or Nothing is yet to be a week old but the clout^2 already has us talking…loudly. While it isn’t hard to two-man with Metro, as his real value-add rests in the beat work behind the bars, artists across the game are still awarding him with the feature. Why? Because of the inevitable synergy. Art, not exclusive to hip hop, is always influenced by prior sources. So, when an artist is looking for something new and fresh, bringing another chef into the kitchen may be the answer. The key to matrimony though, is making sure the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When synergy is found in collaboration, both artists succeed in their goals by showing the public something familiar to each donor, but novel in that the ingredients have yet to be mixed before. Like lamb and tuna fish, Sean and Metro brought their A-Game to cap off more than successful 2017’s for both parties. This collaboration however, should be accredited to four, not just two. I have always seen layers to Sean, and the same can be said for Metro. So, here are the four forces that were present in the studio, and the tracks we can attribute to each.
So Good: Got a long dick, that shit barely fit, Like O.J. glove, you must acquit
All these other hoes, I must had quit
When you ask me, “What other bitch you fuckin’ wit’?”
I grab you up on some hood shit
You look back, like, “Good shit”
No Hearts, No Love: Time to change the recipe, I’m special especially
Going for the record, no felony
And I’m dodging jail and jealousy
Day dreaming about a cruise with Penelope
Looking like success fell on me (damn)
And get rid of all that jealousy
All that hate in your heart
I ain’t got no enemies
I’m focused on what’s meant for me
Putting my energy back into me, real shit
With 4 studio albums and 4 certified mixtapes, Big Sean is as house hold of a name as Clorox. His fame may have spawned from his network, as he became the star pupil of Mr. West and the most active nephew of the G.O.O.D. Music fam. Like the rest on the label, he has had his share of success and was awarded with musical fame and fortune. The 1% often get roasted for their bravado once in the limelight, and Big Sean is no different than the rest of his royal bloodline. The “Big” in Big Sean represents the Detroit rappers lionized rapport and larger than life lyricism. Perhaps the reason I fell for him in the first place, Big Sean is always able to paint of picture of power and rule. He’s not as braggadocios as his predecessors and counterparts though, as the conquering rhymes that we will accredit to Big, don’t need to be modest, when his come-up was so honest. He’s proud of himself, as he should be, and it’s probably harder than you think to cloak pride when you have 10 lifetimes worth of success under your name.
His first creation that put him on the map was dubbed Finally Famous, which plainly states that nothing for him has come easy. It was years of hard work before achievement ever crossed his dashboard. Big is known for patting himself on the back and playing up his strengths. His crass lyrics suggest that his moniker actually stems from his, err, member, which is more than familiar with the inside of the female anatomy. His bankroll is also no stranger to hyperbole, but his designer clothes and private travel show the accuracy in his retort. I don’t think Big is reminding himself of the ample resources he has at his disposal, rather, he just wants to make sure you don’t ever forget it. In an interview hosted by Republic Records, Big Sean says that Metro was the driving force to go full BIG on Double or Nothing. “Go in and don’t say sorry” was the coaching advice given by his bandana wearing colleague before he hit the booth to record. Unapologetic pride…brought to you by the Big, in Big Sean.
Who’s Stopping Me: Okay, I pin her on the wall like she go with the art
Even the Odds: This life just like a culdesac
The hood behind me like a cobra back
You quote the internet, I quote the facts
Metro Boomin has become synonymous with club anthems and Southern gutter rap. The go-to for the established Future, Thug, and Drake has rooted himself even deeper in the game by his work with the come-up stars formerly of the XXL Freshman of the Year lists. The new era is much less inclined to deliver lyrical glory, as the sound of the #Culture acts as the spring board for internet rappers looking to bloom in the millennial fanfare. His pleasantry, “if young metro don’t trust you he gon’ shoot you” is far more exemplary of the “Boomin” side of young Metro, so this onion must be peeled.
In the aforementioned Republic Records interview, Metro says he wanted to link with Sean because they both feel they aren’t as respected as they should be. Metro Boomin wants to be notarized as possessing the entire gambit of musical production, and the “Metro” part of his namesake is the force that will lead this endeavor. Two things come to mind when I hear the word Metro. I think urban. Or, I think of a person or thing that is harder to categorize. A metrosexual is a guy with fancies akin to a female, but in music, metros heuristic is gender-bending…or should we say genre-bending. In Double or Nothing, Metro expands his musical pallet with a newfound willingness to borrow sounds outside of his own wheelhouse. In this rare instance, we hear something we won’t find in an Atlanta strip club, where his releases are normally put to best use. Instead, he samples from the unexpected likes of The Brothers Johnson (1977), Lori Perri (1996), and Brazilian starling Nazare Pereira (1988). The add-ons allowed Sean to venture into an unknown realm alongside of Metro, which resulted in some of the albums best tracks. Metro had his hands in the pot on Double or Nothing, and we can attribute the contemporary vibe within the album to this character.
Savage Time: I ain’t got time to take my time, I’m doin’ it like my life on the line. I an’t have no life line in my whole lifetime, no hero to hide behind.
In Tune: I’m too spiritual to lose. It’s worth every single bruise
Reason: If I don’t text you back then I don’t trust you (then I don’t trust you)
If I pick up on the first brrt I love you (yeah, I love you)
And if I tell you all my secrets, you my lover, yeah yeah
Big Sean started 2017 strong with his conceptual project I Decided. He says the album was created to give his fans the same advice he needed himself at one point in his tumultuous come up. Stay hungry. Keep learning. Stop complaining. Start deciding. I Decided will rank Top 10 for me this year, while Double or Nothing simply will not. Big Sean even admits that with Metro Boomin on the 1’s and 2’s, listeners should expect the fruit of the labor to be mixtape-esque, and the collab in question certainly honors that ideal. Still, pre-war Sean was readily available along with all of his high school dreamer lyricism. Without the Sean Factor, Double or Nothing would be little more than a mixtape, but, this was a true all inclusive offering deserving of the “album” tagline. Thankfully, Big Sean never forgets the desuetude from which he came, and never fails to pay homage to the struggle he endured.
Go Legend: Okay, peace sign and flashes. I live that picture perfect life you lie ’bout in your captions
Pull Up & Wreck: Too blessed to stress, that’s my manifesto
Between DJ Khaled, Antonio Brown, Benjamin Kicks, and the #culture copycat that is social media, “boomin” may be up for Webster’s Dictionary Word of the Year. The adjective has become synonymous with thunderous success and stand-alone prowess. Business is certainly boomin for the 24-year-old, which is why the producer is likely living by the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality. Boomin brought his recipe for hip hop success to Double or Nothing, which is likely the most familiar sound on this project and perhaps, in the rap games entirety.
Therefore, Boomin is the hot sauce in this duo’s collaborative recipe, a taste (sound) that sticks out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, his signature auditory deliverance can’t overpower the attitude of Big, or undermine the youth of Sean. Instead, the donations made under the Boomin name resulted in some of Big Sean’s hardest lyrics to date. No one can pitter-patter a Boomin beat, which is likely the only line item for the producers talent selection. The signature sound is Metro Boomins golden ticket and amazingly, he has still found enough variety in the type cast to bless us all with 50 shades of his proverbial grey.
We are constantly reminded that there is no need to go it alone, in this life or the next. We have our friends, family, colleagues, and muses, all of which can act as an extra additive to your own creations. The key to team work is leverage. Being able to borrow a resource that you don’t have readily available to better your own performance. Metro Boomin has become the hard money lender in the rap world, and Big Sean is on the short list of lyricists that have the credit score to receive his musical loan. Give Double or Nothing a listen, but don’t let the set list blend into one, ambiguous blur. Both expanded their boarders and benefitted from the co-counsel. Today, 1+1 equals 4.
This is a Pretty Wild certified HIT.