How Metro Boomin is Reviving the DJ Game


(Image Credit: Gunner Stahl/The Fader)

Jelani Dupon, Writer

In the musical world, the vocalists get most of the spotlight. People like Billie Eilish or back-in-the-day artists like Whitney Houston have millions of fans and a huge following, but their songs are made of more than just their vocals. I’m alluding to the other half of a song, the instrumental or beat. It is unclear why producers and DJs go generally unknown in the industry, but without them, music wouldn’t really be music,  especially in today’s time producers aren’t well known – except one. If you listen to Hip-Hop music you’ve probably heard his tag, “If young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you.” but you still might not actually know what his name is, which speaks volumes. Metro Boomin is the most popular producer as of now, and his name isn’t on the global status of any of the people he makes beats for, such as 21 Savage and Drake, who I’m sure you’ve heard of. It’s no question that producers’ fame has nosedived down in recent years, the question is were they ever even popular? 

To many, the 80s and 90s were the pinnacles of rap music, and behind most of the classic tracks that many love is a producer – Dr. Dre. Dre got his start as a DJ in a club in South Central L.A. He was friends with four other hopeful musicians, who a couple of years later formed the rap group N.W.A. Dre was the DJ for all the beats and got major credit after their magnum opus album Straight Outta Compton. After this, Dre became a household name, and even after the group’s inevitable breakup in 1992, he continued to put out popular music under his own name and own record label, Aftermath Entertainment, after leaving the most popular rap label of all time, Suge Knight’s Death Row Records. Dr. Dre was the first DJ to have extreme, global-icon success, and he’s the last one as well. As the 90s went into the 2000s, rap, as well as DJing, went down. The two most popular faces of the genre, 2Pac, and The Notorious B.I.G. were murdered within six months of each other. Nothing was really going right for rap music after that, and the hole that was left from the 90s, at least from the general perception, hasn’t been filled since.

Although producing and DJing isn’t as popular as it was two decades ago, it is seeing a revival with the creativity of Metro Boomin. Every year he DJs at least one of the most popular rap songs, and his name is pretty big in the rap industry. The hard part about being a good DJ is actually out of their control, to be a good DJ you have to have good rappers around you to make your beats actually get credit. That’s one of the biggest things that separate Dre from Metro: Dre was producing for arguably the greatest and most influential rapper that has ever lived, in 2Pac (I’m not just saying it, google it) and other rappers who have the utmost respect in the industry like Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. There aren’t many rap superstars to that caliber today, and Metro isn’t DJing for any of them, and until he does, it’s going to be hard to get on that Dre level. DJing isn’t an art that never got it’s shining, it’s simply art that had its glory, and with time declined into a depth that it has yet to recover from.