Metro Boomin, the Conflicted College Dropout Who Became Rap’s Hottest Producer
Metro Boomin is making 2017 a year to remember. Just as the New Year began, the 23-year-old producer landed his first No. 1 song, “Bad and Boujee.” With the help of Migos he was able to go platinum on another song, which has fans feigning for his next release.
Metro has been bringing his name to the spotlight since creating “Karate Chop” with Future in 2013, and working with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Future, Young Thug, Wiz Khalifa, The Weeknd, and Gucci Mane to name a few. His signature use of 808s grace in his beats had made some of the year’s best rap records.
In a phone interview with GQ, Metro Boomin explains his journey to success and major influences in his life. Often taking a few moments in silence to meticulously craft his answers, Metro Boomin explains to that his sights are set on much more than just making hit records.
Are you working on any projects in particular?
I’m really just working on my album. That’s the main focus.
Were there any musicians outside of hip hop that had an impact on your sound?
Michael Jackson. He was always inventing shit and reinventing himself and his style. Green Day, just because, when I started making beats back then, they had that shit out, American Idiot. Just the sonics of that shit—that whole dark, moody vibe. I naturally, when I make beats, aim for a darker tone just because I’ve always preferred those types of feelings. More than any artist, I feel like horror-movie music influenced my music more than all that shit.
How it builds a mood?
Exactly. When you’re playing that shit, you feel like you’re somewhere.
Gucci Mane first inviting you to the studio was a big moment early on in your career. Gucci’s proven to be one music’s biggest tastemakers. Is that a role you aim to take on yourself?
That’s always been something I want to do. I’m heavily influenced by a lot of people like Dre, Pharrell, and Kanye. They’re all big time tastemakers and trendsetters, just for culture, period. So I strive to do that as well. I’m starting my label up, so of course I’m going to keep bringing new things to the table: new artists, new sounds, and new vibes for people to love and live with.
You’ve designed shirts, sneakers, and tour merch—all of which sold out immediately. Do you plan on doing more of that this year?
I’m always going to be heavy in producing. It’s always going to come first. It never can’t come first. But last year, 2016, I focused on DJing. Now that it’s 2017, I’m gonna gravitate towards fashion. Like we just had with the Alexander Wang campaign and things like that.
You’ve given lectures at the Red Bull Music Academy and have a YouTube tutorial on making beats. Do you like teaching and helping younger artists get a foot in the door?
I’m not too much into all the technical teaching really. But, I’m more into that Red Bull Music Academy, like, that type of teaching. Just a regular person telling you firsthand about all this shit that I know you’re probably wondering, so you can try not to make the same mistakes that I made because I didn’t have anybody to tell me. They have all types of shit for you to learn the more technical stuff, but that real-person knowledge is more valuable.
How did the idea for your scholarship fund start?
I’m from St. Louis. I was at Morehouse [College] for one semester. As grateful as I was to be there, I didn’t want to be there. It was bittersweet, because I knew for a fact that I need to put all of my time into music. School is the same as producing: If you want to make it far, there are a million, trillion people trying to do the same thing. If you’re not in over-grind mode, it’s probably not going to work the way that you want it to. Sure, you can stumble across something. But to be in this shit for real, to be a player and not somebody who’s attending the game, you’ve got to be on over-grind. There was just no way—me being in school and trying to do this. I wasn’t going to excel in either one of them.
So you want to give kids who want to take college as seriously as you take music a
shot at being able to do that?
Yeah. Looking back, I was like, Damn. You know how many young kids in St. Louis would kill to go to Morehouse? I know it because I’m from St. Louis. I’m from a black family. I know how many kids would kill for that but can’t pay for it. Because that was one of our problems, too—it was like “Man, this shit is expensive.” So it was just like, man, if I could just give someone else the opportunity I threw away because someone else could’ve been in my chair, I want to be putting people in there.
What are you next set of goals for 2017?
I want to have the album out. I want to get on that Top 10 list for albums, for sure. I can’t tell you how serious I am about this shit and how serious it is. That and everything with the label. That and more DJing. More fashion shit. To be a better person, and in better health. To be better to the people in my life. Not to say that I’m not, but you can always be better. You can always be better. 2017 is just better. Better entertainment. Better records.
Read the entire Interview at GQ.