It's been a whirlwind two years for Atlanta-by-way-of-St.-Louis producer Metro Boomin. Still just 20 years old, he broke through onto the national radar after producing Future's creepy single "Karate Chop" in January 2013, and has been in the lab ever since with the likes of Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa, Young Thug, Migos and YG, to name just a few. Often held up as part of the new wave of Atlanta hip-hop producers—Dun Deal, DJ Spinz, Sonny Digital, even Mike WiLL Made It—Metro's beats are distinct from the rest with their chilling, cinematic quality, making the listener feel like they're walking through the set of a horror film. In a genre so set on turning up, Metro's sound represents the dark side of the trap, the underbelly that doesn't make it into the glamorous songs about hitting the club every night.

But Metro isn't focused solely on making beats and sending them around; instead, the producer is working towards something bigger, with a label and artists and a brand all his own within his sights. "I don't look at it as, 'Oh, I'm gonna keep making beats, and I'm gonna do that until I die," he said, laughing, on a recent stop through the XXL offices. "But that's how some people look at it—gonna just keep making beats, get placement after placement. It's not about that with me; it's about really next-level shit. It's more than just being a producer, making beats in your room and nobody knows you. It's really about being a star yourself. But right now I'm just trying to take the necessary steps to get there and not try to do too much too early and just get lost in the sauce."

Some of those steps include his recent high-profile placements on YG's My Krazy Life, Future's Honest and Wiz Khalifa's 28 Grams. And another is the upcoming studio album from Metro Thuggin, the producer/rapper combo he's formed with hip-hop's current enigma Young Thug. As the two prepare to release Metro Thuggin with first single "The Blanguage," Metro Boomin stopped in to the XXL offices to talk about working on YG's album, hang Kanye West featured on his song (Future's "I Won"), and the differences between Gucci, Future and Thugga. —Dan Rys


Photo Credit: Cam Kirk

YG, "1 AM"

A friend of mine, Stephanie Hall, she had linked me with YG and Lil Durk's A&R Sickamore. So me and Sickamore started working really closely with Durk's shit, and then he was like, yo, I need you for YG's shit. That was when they had moved YG to Atlanta for a time to work on his album. Sickamore was like, yo, we need to get him on some Southern shit to get him poppin' over here; that was the original plan. Every time I would see Jeezy, he would say the same thing—man, you need to work with YG. So I was like, cool. We got in and we had started doing some Southern shit—he had laid down a hook, it was cool—but it just sounded kind of forced. So we just scratched that and I started going through beats, and that "1 AM" beat was one that he liked.

When I started making beats in the 7th grade—even through middle school and high school—I admired a lot of Shawty Redd, stuff like that, that real dark, trap sound. I guess over time that's just what I kept doing. Usually, I try to figure out what kind of track I want to do, then I fill it out, then I start adding in some other shit, some drums, then lay it out. I don't play [piano] fluently, but I took a piano class, and that's what had originally gotten me more into music theory and all that. I can play enough to make beats, but I can't read music.


Future featuring Kanye West, "I Won"

We had started "I Won" in Atlanta and finished it in L.A. I got a call from Future's manager Orlando, saying, "Send it with an open verse for 'Ye." We had originally done it in the studio, I took the vocals and took everything home and arranged it and added some more shit on the beat. So I had all the files. So I sent it, then a week or two later I got a call back to hear Kanye's verse, and it was crazy. I remember, I was with Orlando and we were in a pizza parking lot, and he played that in his car. So I was definitely excited; Kanye's always been of course someone I've always looked up to.


Young Thug

[I met Thug] through Gucci. Gucci had bought a new studio on Memorial in Atlanta and a lot of people would be up there. So I went up there one day and Thug was there, and he was recording "Picacho." [Laughs] Really we were just coolin' it, we didn't really link at that point. But I would come back and we would see each other more often, do some shit at Gucci's studio, then I started working at another studio and I used to bring him up there and we'd do sessions up there and started going in after that.

There was a point where I guess he wasn't doing much music stuff, I don't know. Thug's interesting, he's all over the place. But I would just call him every day. He's a street nigga, so he would be in the streets, and I would call him every day, like, "Come on man, come to the studio, come to the studio." I had the workplace, I had the beats, the chemistry was there and I think we both saw it, and we just locked in.


Photo Credit: Ryan Muir

Young Thug, Gucci Mane and Future

They're all different to work with, but they're all similar in their own sense. As far as the way their process, as far as their creativity, as far as a lot of things. But they're all different in their own way still. I have a personal relationship with all three, so it's different than if I had come out to New York or L.A. and a label had put together a session with an artist I might not know like that. That's different. With these guys, I can kick back, everybody's comfortable. So I definitely feel like it's better that way, and that's why the music comes out better.

And that's one thing I always appreciated about Gucci, Future and Thug—they all respect my input, even though I don't rap, if I come up with something and it's hard, they'll fuck with it. They know I just really love to produce, and more than just loading the beat up and sitting there, I wanna be in the booth going back and forth, back and forth, coming up with lines. They can all respect my craft.

gucci mane


They work pretty quick. They work good. But sometimes all three of them won't be in the same place. So it's like, Quavo will lay down a hook or something, and they come finish it or vice versa, or sometimes they'll all be there, you know what I'm saying? But they're three grown men, sometimes they're not all always in the same place at the same time. But the way they work is hard, though. That's really what made me start loving their music; seeing the work ethic, their wordplay, it's entertainment. They got it down pat.


Wiz Khalifa

I was in the studio with Wiz for some other songs with Two-9 in Atlanta. He had gone back to L.A. and I sent him some beats, and that's when he did the five songs that wound up on [28 Grams] and sent them back to me. I wasn't with him for those, but he kept me in the loop during the process. Wiz is a cool guy, humble guy, down to Earth guy. You would really think he was just a regular guy if you didn't know who he was. But he still has a superstar aura about him. Some people might be intimidating to other people, but he's a real charismatic person.


Metro Thuggin, "The Blanguage"

I don't know, bro. [Laughs] That's the funniest part. When I had originally made the beat, I had just called it "The Blanguage"—you know, 'cause of the blood and everything—I just threw the B in front of it because I needed something to title the beat. When we wrote the song, he didn't have a hook on it, it was kind of just a freestyle, so we needed a title and that became it. When he Instagram video'd it that one day, he had put the "B Language," and then people started calling it "The B-Language," so that's how that happened.

I wouldn't even call all the stuff on Metro Thuggin our best songs, because I think some of the other stuff that we have I like more, but these are the songs that are perfect to come out right now. It's really all about elevating and building it up and not going too far too early, or giving out too much too early, it's about giving people what they want right now. When we started it, a few of them I picked them out, and that mixed in with a few new ones, we're putting it out.