Metro Boomin and Future Look to Marry Their Respective Styles, With Mixed Results, in ‘We Don’t Trust You’: Album Review

Mixing the business of trap and the pleasure of friendship is what unites mumble-rapper Future with cinematic producer Metro Boomin. With “We Don’t Trust You” marking the marquee collaborators’ official full-album debut, the two have produced a work of chilly, melancholy, deep-beat-booming hip-hop that rocks and rages. But while their signature strengths are here, and clear, it’s not always an easy marriage; there is a give-and-take to who has the upper hand with every track.

Dropped Friday as the prospective first half of a two-album coaction (the follow-up is scheduled to be released April 12), “We Don’t Trust You” comes 11 years after their far briefer initial collab (2013’s “Karate Chop” track) and nine years after Metro Boomin produced Future’s bittersweet “DS2” album (2015 also marked Metro exec-producing the “What a Time to Be Alive” mixtape between Future and Drake).

What’s fascinating about the dynamic is that, between the producer’s 2022 solo album “Heroes & Villains” (co-starring Future on “Too Many Nights” and “Superhero”) and his 2023 soundtrack to “Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse,” Metro Boomin’s stock rose exponentially. His dusky-dark and vividly filmic aesthetic, with its gothic melodicism and clanging rhythms, became hip-hop’s industry gold standard.

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Within that same 2022-2023 timeframe, Future released “I Never Liked You,” an album that sounded…. just like Future: solidly salacious, frankly flowing, almost quaintly braggadocious and occasionally lyrically lazy. That’s been the Future way ever since 2014’s “Honest.” Like McDonald’s Big Mac, every Future album is as good, and similar in its flavor and texture, as the last.

That said, “We Don’t Trust You” doesn’t feel like a competition. Starting with the title track, with its upbeat synth line and its low-key “Smiling Faces Sometimes” Undisputed Truth sample, a surprisingly ragged Future dramatically takes on the subject of brotherly countenance and questions of who is fake and what is real with genuine heft. “Young Metro,” co-produced by Mike Dean and featuring the Weeknd’s dreamy neo-falsetto on its bridge, finds Future doing his Auto-Tune usual, playing loose with a story of never being sober. The glacially atmospheric track, though solid, never picks up steam until its “drowning/tryin’” bridge and its slowwww-fade finale.

The cracked sequencer and quietly tapping rhythm of “Ice Attack” offer Future the opportunity to up-talk the worthy merits of Metro Boomin and the fashion in which his somber soundscapes carry this tune.

But you start to wonder, as “Ice Attack” segues into the cooly grooving “Type Shit,” if Metro isn’t bringing his own game not so much down, but perhaps sideways, to accommodate Future’s manageably angered rhymes and mad, maudlin flow. The churchy mood, softly arpeggiating synths, and subtly bell-bonging vibe of “Type Shit” sounds as if the track was meant to ascend gloriously – and it probably would feature an incendiary, epic lift if this were a Metro Boomin album alone. But Future, Playboi Carti and Travis Scott tamp out Metro’s fire, and a track that could’ve been great is merely good.

This same thing happens to the producer on several other occasions. Metro’s Freddie Kruger-meets-Jaws ambience and uneasy piano line on “Magic Don Juan (Princess Diana)” only picks up steam when Future’s flow finally rises to the occasion of the track’s plucked strings and swelling, faux-French-horn ending. The celestial lullaby of “Cinderella,” with Travis Scott on its chorus, dissipates in the ether.

An airy, piano-driven “Claustrophobic,” like several tracks on this album, tackles the subject of Future and Metro being “professionals” who are exceptional at their craft, while (surprise) most other rappers lack skills. But “buying another mansion” and needing another stove because he’s cooking so much cocaine doesn’t really speak to the issue of claustrophobia. Future Hendrix just sounds like he needs lessons in feng shui.

Metro Boomin’s un-steadying orchestral see-sawing does finally find an aptly theatrical flow when Kendrick Lamar jumps on the verses of “Like That” with his yelping rap, dip-diving breaths and much-needed frenetic energy … not to mention the cuttingly snarky lyrics dissing Drake and J-Cole that sparked fan intrigue and news headlines immediately upon the album’s release.

Young Thug doesn’t have Lamar’s vigor, ire or salt, but instead brings gravelly menace to the choruses of Metro’s whistling horror-track of “Slimed In.” Though Future’s lyric of “charging a chicken just for a verse” sneaks in some surprising laughs, the bleak mood of “Everyday Hustle” only finds briskness in Rick Ross’ jovial take on criminal enterprise.

For the most part, Metro makes more of the duo’s first volume than Future does. Then again, there are stunningly soulful and richly melodic tracks such as “Running Outta Time” (co-produced with Zaytoven and Chris XZ) where the rapper sounds clear as a bell, passionate and hungry, with the backing of simple hammering piano and a slow, grinding organ. “Where My Twin @” too, with its twinkling percussion, squelchy synth and spritely melody, gives a quietly frenzied Future something harried to chew on: a mad, bad story involving a courtroom, a pistol and some mushrooms. Now, that’s a movie a lot of us would like to see.

So there’s hope yet for the potential majesty of Metro Boomin and Future’s patented brand of EVOL to rise up and meet in the middle. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what will happen with April’s second chapter.

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