Over the past year, Metro Boomin has had an incredible run. While he is already widely known as the face and sound of modern-day trap music, on his last two projects, the album Heroes & Villains and the Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse soundtrack, he stepped his game up to unexpected levels. Now, he’s credited as the executive producer on not just one, but two versions of Young Thug’s new album, Business Is Business — the original and the rejiggered Metro’svb Version.
Of the two, Metro’s Version is — unsurprisingly — superior, despite having all the same tracks and only two new songs. Its success highlights the importance of sequencing on a project, an art that goes overlooked by fans all too often. Business Is Business presents a unique opportunity to explore how sequencing changes the tenor and direction of an album because while “deluxe editions” of albums have proliferated in the streaming era, rarely have they experimented with song order the way Metro does here.
For instance, on Metro’s Version, the late-album standout “Jonesboro” is repurposed as the intro; while it gets lost in the shuffle amid the original 15 tracks, popping up around the time that most albums tend to start dragging, on the deluxe edition, it sets the mood for the whole project. Although the vibey, melodic track “Parade On Cleveland” with Drake is probably one that fans were itching to get to upon the album’s release, “Jonesboro” more accurately predicts the… well… businesslike tone of the project.
Business Is Business is a much more somber effort than Thug’s prior releases So Much Fun and Punk, owing at least partially to his present circumstances as a guest of the Fulton County Jail. It also makes sinister tracks like the 21 Savage-featuring “Want Me Dead” and “Hoodie” featuring BSlime and Lil Gotit a bit uncomfortable to listen to, considering it was Thug’s lyrics about sliding on enemies that initially tied him to the Fulton County D.A’s racketeering case against gang/label YSL.
Likewise, the celebratory overtones of “Oh You Went” with Drake and “Hellcat Kenny” with Lil Uzi Vert are undermined by the looming threat of a prison sentence reaching football numbers hanging over Thugger’s head. And, of course, there’s another elephant in the room. Although incarceration isn’t the same as death, the album’s compilation of old verses and guest appearances makes it feel almost cobbled together the way some notable posthumous releases have been and raises the question of how much of this was what Thug actually wanted versus how much of it was just feasible over the past few months.
Similar projects recorded or released by incarcerated rappers like Drakeo The Ruler and 03 Greedo attempted to answer these questions with incomplete results, and Business Is Business rarely does better at doing so. Thug’s vocal and lyrical dynamism helps, as does his well-established chemistry with Metro as a producer and the team of beatmakers employed on the project. But you can’t help but wonder as you listen whether he’d have made changes to the beat selection or to his partners’ verses if he had true access to the process of putting things together.
The lack of Gunna and Lil Keed’s voices on the album only twists the knife. While Gunna was able to process his feelings about the past year on his own new album, he was only free to record it by potentially betraying his longtime mentor, benefactor, and friend. Meanwhile, even if Thug truly believed that Gunna isn’t a “snitch,” they’re barred from associating by the courts anyway, breaking up what has been a lucrative and creatively fruitful musical partnership, if not a criminal one.
Metro does a superb job of tying the disparate elements of the album together enough to sound like a cohesive project on the original but truly works wonders on the resequenced version bearing his name. If his efforts weren’t undermined by the above concerns, Business Is Business might have been a triumph in the same order as his and Thug’s last handful of releases. As it stands, the project is a testament to the value of sequencing and an emblem of what the music world might lose if Young Thug loses his case.
Business Is Business is out now on Young Stoner Life Record / 300 Entertainment.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.