As fantastic as Spider-man: Across The Spider-Verse is, I can’t say the same about the accompanying soundtrack, METRO BOOMIN PRESENTS SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (SOUNDTRACK FROM AND INSPIRED BY THE MOTION PICTURE). It’s production consistently fails to take an extra leap as it stays afloat with uninteresting beats; it bears the weight of success on the featured artists, who sometimes deliver good verses. There is some stuff to latch onto as the music rounds out between some catchy, albeit occasionally corny, choruses, and forgettable connectivity. Boomin curated it to have parallels between the thematic poignancy of the film and music, failing to hit the mark considering the inattentive approach to implementing vocal samples at the end of certain tracks, carrying with it another connection beyond the music. It left me feeling like the hype built behind it, considering the prestige of Metro Boomin, didn’t live to expectations – you can set a standard with that of the Black Panther: OST by Kendrick Lamar and American Gangster by Jay-Z, but they had more free range – the highs don’t last as long since what follows are wandering lows that slowly lose you as it goes along.
The album feels less inspired and more typical of Metro Boomin flair with the addition of vocal samples from the movie. Much of the music speaks through the perspective of the featured artists as they try to find parallels with the themes and pivotal moments from Spider-man: Across The Spider-Verse, like with most of these inspired soundtracks; however, this one isn’t as poignant. The music is sometimes flowing unconsciously, giving monotony a significant presence amongst the verses of the featured artists, like with 21 Savage, who’s given moments to reflect on relationships and perseverance without getting creative lyrically, or Don Tolliver, who continues to sound the same on his features. There is this feeling that some focus gets shifted toward being representative of Miles Morales’ perspective. It’s understandable, but one can only do so little when you have Future or Lil Wayne trying to rap through the perspective of a 15-year-old boy. But when it does so, it’s never as good as when it doesn’t, like on “Annihilate,” where Lil Wayne’s typical flair is more of a highlight than Offset and Swae Lee and their attempt at taking Miles Morales’ perspective.
Additionally, artists get hindered as they match the energy and quality of the beat they are rapping over. Or so I assume, as a predominant amount of the verses aren’t the A-game levels one has heard from them, though it isn’t to say they’re delivering below B-level work since there are momentous highs that I couldn’t stop replaying. Specifically, five songs truly stood out compared to the rest, and they are “Am I Dreaming,” “Hummingbird,” “Calling,” “Self-Love,” and “Nas Morales.” Though for a mild and safe album like this, it doesn’t declare much for what it aims to do – it’s the most effective. “Am I Dreaming” beautifully captures rapping through more of a perspective via Miles Morales, with some slips towards reality; “Calling” does similarly, via Nav, while A Boogie contrasts him by taking themes of love and feeling needed with his touch of reality. Others find themselves standing out through the strength of the respective lead artists flexing their stylistic and rhythmic potencies, especially James Blake and Nas on “Hummingbird” and “Nas Morales,” respectively.
However, nothing has been more replayed than “Self-Love,” led by Coi Leray; we hear her create parallels between themes that are pertinent to her arc and that of Gwen Stacy, singing, “Self-love, he don’t love himself, tryna love me/Cuff me, told the truth to him, he don’t trust mе … Oh my, she’s a long way from suburban towns/Came to the city for thе love, got her hurtin’ now,” in the pre-chorus and chorus, respectively. The cadence and emotional potency beneath Coi Leray’s performance offer a much-needed draw, and one of the few times the beat has some grip on playing with minimalistic layering; Leray boasts it with this gripping melody that isn’t transcendent but wholly effective. Like the others, it brings a beautiful parallel between the two, reinforcing the idea of being “inspired by.” This notion gets brought up in stagnant moments from other artists that it isn’t a demonstrative make-or-break element to the album unless one has a more linear expectancy. We get teetering performances from Lil Uzi Vert, Don Tolliver, and Offset, where they become a slight afterthought, continuing to show how safe many of these songs play it.
Though we get some quality highs from the Metro Boomin’s soundtrack, there is still some disappointment the beats are as encapsulating, playing it safe so the construction feels seamless. We hear it on “Link Up,” which doesn’t go beyond with its afrobeat influence, and “Hummingbird,” but James Blake fixes it as he turns the type-beat into something that would have been seen as a loosie off a previous album. There is a consistent instance of uninteresting soundscapes; it almost feels like a quick turnout that lacked creative intuition leaving this album on the lower side of the totem pole, where its forgettability reigns in that with consistency, endowing you with more than a sliver of quality that in turn isn’t much to write home to. It isn’t to say the album is pure crap; frankly, there is a good amount of quality lining it, but compared to the construction of its highlights and past Metro Boomin music, it doesn’t match their greatness.
METRO BOOMIN PRESENTS SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (SOUNDTRACK FROM AND INSPIRED BY THE MOTION PICTURE) has a more potent presence when accompanied by having viewed the film, but not much as it’s easily digestible on its own. If only I could recommend this higher, as I lean into Spider-Man-Related Biases, but I can compose myself when something is of a lesser quality like this. It’s an album that will find some replay value, but you’re better off playing the Daniel Pemberton curated soundtrack from Into The Spider-Verse, instead.