I almost gave up on Logic. After Under Pressure, it was every fan’s worst fear when they come to relevance, “Oh my God, he’s gonna be corny and this is the end of the real.” That always seems to be the case when a rapper who comes from the underground, breaks into the mainstream. Some of them stay true to their identities and others stray away from their roots to try and blend in just to sell some records (which is understandable). The fans, however, don’t do their fair share sometimes in giving artists chances to grow and see where their potential can take them when they branch out to more ears. I mean, they say the best things in life are free, but seriously, how many more free mixtapes do you expect to have before the artists starts to starve? We’re all guilty of saying that we want the old stuff back, and I definitely know that I’m part of that conversation, and with regards to Logic, I was definitely headed in that direction, especially since his Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever tape & his debut album Under Pressure were thuds. I was ready to throw in the towel and say, “alright, I’m done. He had a good run.” But then I said, “self, let’s not give up too quick.” His debut was not even a full year old yet before whisperings of a new album came to life. Nowadays, many of the not-so-established artists like to drop project after project to make sure that the people of the microwave era don’t drift away from them and latch onto something else (as we’ve seen countless times this half-decade). Knowing that Logic is signed to Def Jam, I didn’t think that it was necessary for him to rush into something so soon, but then again, I didn’t even see Def Jam do a whole lot to push the first album. Videos? Singles? Radio play? Primetime appearances? Little to none. Maybe it was another of their Trinidad James pulls (but let’s be for real – Logic is not terrible). From the one and only promo that I saw for the album’s release, I wasn’t initially impressed or anticipating anything, but because I have hopes for him to some degree, I just felt like it was necessary to give him another shot.
The cover art of many albums this decade do not often present the creativity and originality like ones that were brought about in the golden era, where they were really appreciated, so to see Logic & crew grace the cover like some sort of Back to the Future inspired artwork, that also further poked at my intrigue. Contact begins and it caught me right off guard because I recognized the Kanye West So Amazing sample, and it’s crazy how we’re likely going to hear more and more samples used by younger artists from music from the previous decade that will be fairly recognizable, and there have been many cases of that already. The most important song on an album is the first one, because it sets the tone for the album. If you have a weak beginning, people usually don’t have high hopes that the rest of the album will be great, or at least they’ll be more hesitant moving forward. The intro by any means has to grab your attention and let it be known that you’re in for an experience, not just to simply pass by. One the dramatic opener which plays out like the opening of a movie starts to fade away, we hear voices of characters that determine that this will be acted out as a short movie taking place in space – a different setting to present an album, but I’ll roll with it. It’s worth noting that the timing of this album is in the future (so, I see what he did there with the artwork), and both characters, Thomas & Kai, refer to it as the “album that changed everything” and “important.” It’s a set up that would appear to come off as corny, but for the moment, I appreciated the creativity around it.
The first official song is Fade Away gets into motion, and the sound of it linked it back to a similar style that was presented on Under Pressure throughout various songs. That’s where I had the hint of this album sounding like his previous one that wouldn’t show a lot of growth although it’d been a year since the debut, and a lot can change in one year. For the moment, my skepticism crept in, and when you look into the lyrics, it’s very comparable to Buried Alive, which talked about the ‘pressures’ of wanting to be in the industry, and not allowing it to consume you to the point where it’ll eventually suffocate you, which is like being buried alive. Given that the setting of the album is based in the Future, Logic was pretty smart in having the mentality to record the album as if it’ll have a lasting impression to consider itself timeless. Of course that’s for the people to decide, but if he truly wants people to remember his name until it fades away, it’s worth the attempt. I’ll give him credit for that.
“When ya get to heaven I’mma come and get ya
Sit back and really get the picture
This life, yeah, it done ate away, hard times never stayed away
But one thing I know day to day, I’mma do somethin’ ‘fore I fade away”
It’s not bad for an opening song, although I feel like it was an extension of Under Pressure and it didn’t all the way impact me as something different besides it being a little more comfortable with a morbid atmosphere, you know, with death and all that noise. Logic’s known for being one to promote positivity and having a solid message for his listeners in his music, so it’s no surprise that it continues here.
As it would likely appear to be, the skits (and scenes) in between songs will serve as not only key details in moving the story forward with Thomas, Kai, and the operating system from Under Pressure, (the A Tribe Called Quest inspired), Thalia, but will also be the transitions between songs as the first example appears with Upgrade. Now, because there are still people who don’t really know a lot about Logic entirely (people still consider him a white kid, when in fact he is mixed), and the reach from his first album didn’t quite hit as much as his counterparts, there are still questions as to who exactly is Logic?
“Way back in DC, I live
On the way to that everlasting life
Will they rob you? Yeah, they might
Hold up, wait a minute, veer to the right
On this road to success, I’ve faced my fears
Then hop on that flight”
Hailing from Maryland, he, like many rappers who come up, lived in a rough neighbourhood and has faced adversity for many years to get where he is today. He’s providing a lot of free material for you to get to know him (start with the Young Sinatra series), so it’s good to see him in a winning position like touring around the world before he even dropped his first album and having a crazy fan base that is the RattPack and the Bobby Soxers. But, never quite resting on his laurels, he has a chip on his shoulder and feels like he can improve, which is always the best sign for growth in any field of work. To upgrade one’s self, you go through some times, high & low, in order to build up yourself when you’re ready to deliver something new. Logic feels as though he has done so, which is why he states that he’s upgraded for the better.
“I just can’t follow their law
Swear to god they know me
They don’t know me at all
And its all right, it’s alright
So far, I can vibe to it, because I know that it’s so easy to fall in a trap and fall in love with double-time rappers because it appears as though they’re saying some crazy stuff, but really aren’t saying anything impressive, but I’ve got used to Logic’s style & flow, which makes it tolerable. This is a nice track, but I was definitely trying to see if there was something more that he could offer on the table. So far, that wasn’t the case.
The first scene, which gives a clue as to what’s happening with Thomas & Kai, comes in White People (I chuckled at the title, just because). The planet that they’re trying to reach is Paradise and there’s a distress signal from the other ship that tells them not to come to their aide because they’d be better off not trying to get themselves caught up in a similar fate. The joke where the title of the scene comes from is when Kai complains about white people always poking their heads into trouble situations when they should just leave them alone (basically any bad horror movie you’ve ever seen in theatres, there’s a Black person saying “I told your dumbass not to go in there, now look at you. Dead.” I mean, this has been the same argument used since Cedric the Entertainer put it on display on The Original Kings of Comedy. And also, my mother told me that white people are just naturally curious people (God bless ‘em). Fortunately for Kai, Thomas tells HQ that it’s not happening and they push through with their mission towards Paradise, which I would think to be somewhat like Elysium (good movie – watch it).
When the beat dropped for Like Woah, I was like “alright, now we’re on to something,” because it’s groovy, the hook is perfect and it’s one that you want to throw on repeat just for the hell of it (unless that’s just me, but it should be for many people, because it’s a great song). It has a similar message like Kendrick’s Alright, because Logic is saying that he’s putting on for the people who go through struggles or are feeling overwhelmed by life in general, and in the same breath, Kendrick provides reassurance that all will be well. Although the successes have come through for Logic, he still hasn’t forgot about those who are still struggling, and he sees himself as a representative of those people.
“Feeling like an addict that ain’t had it, up and at it in a minute
If it hadn’t been invented, my limit wouldn’t be infinite
I’m feeling like an infant in a womb
I’ma be here ’til the tomb
Lately I’ve been in my room
Lookin’ and lookin’ at records on the wall”
It wouldn’t be a Hip Hop album if there wasn’t some striking influence of the 1990s to come about, and with Young Jesus bringing the boom bap into the cut, there’s something for the “this is real hip hop” crowd to indulge. The flow, straight up bars, and the back & forth with Big Lenbo (who’s voice somewhat reminded me of Sean Price, may he rest in peace) brought about that nostalgia that was obviously intended, but I liked it. It would have been a different story had the whole album to this point sounded like a constant paying of homage to the 90s, but for it to be a standalone track, it served its purpose by getting the head bopping action through while keeping the momentum going from the song prior. That’s good sequencing right there. For this song to be the lead single, that probably got the excitement there for a moment, but because of how dated it sounded, the anticipation for more new music wasn’t as hyped, but there was a little buzz generated. Within the scope of the album, it makes more sense (which happens 9 times out of 10).
Continuing that 90s sounds, Innermission takes the smoother approach as Logic spills his thoughts during the album’s halfway break point, as the heroes in the short film on the album, continue their journey to paradise. It’s cool how it serves as a double meaning. The explorers are on a mission to another planet, while simultaneously, Logic is on a journey trying to find peace, or even a new beginning in his life, although he knows that he won’t be able to see what we, as a people will evolve into. The song sounds very Tribe-esque, which he did mention on the song, but I know that the group has been a big influence on his music (much like Tarantino movies). I like hearing about the honest feelings that come out like the writings of a diary, which the 2nd verse plays out like. When he’s talking about his boy in prison, that stuck with me, more than anything else in the song because of him coming back to that reality where beyond tours and being in the limelight, there are still those who he wishes could share the experience with, but circumstances just don’t allow for them to happen.
“I think about how I wasn’t shit when he went in
What if the tables was turned and I was the one that been in, damn
He said he’s seen me in the magazine
He said he’s seen me on Fallon and Kimmel
That’s been my dog from the kennel
I never thought that out the millions watching, he was one
It makes me reminisce about the times when we begun”
He has an interesting story, and the song itself, Under Pressure, goes into detail with his family background and the amount of obstacles that he’s dealt with and continues to deal with. It seems like such a basic thing to make note of, but that’s the essence of rap that I like. Bringing it to a point where you’re sharing your story so you connect with the audience, even if it’s just one or two people who can relate, at least people have the opportunity to have an understanding. And the smooth instrumental serves the right tempo and mood to deliver these thoughts.
When this album was announced, there was a video to go along with it. I Am The Greatest was the song that was playing (obviously before anyone knew what the title was), and I wasn’t really phased by it. Even after listening for a while, it shows off the braggadocios side of Logic, but it’s much too Drake-ish for my liking, to be quite honest. This track felt like it was forced, and if there was one song I wish wasn’t on the album, it’d definitely be this one. Unless I’m wrong, I don’t feel as though this is one of the more popular songs on the album, because really everyone has a song like this, but with Logic, it didn’t fit him. If it’s any other rapper who has that aura around him that gives off that alpha-male ‘you-can’t-fuck-with-me’ vibe, then it would work. This? Not so much. As the West Indians say, he tried a ting.
Fun fact, I’ve never completed a Rubik’s Cube in my life, but I’d love to own one (*adds to Christmas list*). They’re one of the most popular toys in history, and I remember spending a lot of time watching people solve them in record speeds. How? I still don’t know, but it is what it is. The best I’ve got was completing one colour on one side. That’s it. That is my accomplishment. In The Cube scene, Kai is trying to solve one and Thomas has no idea what is. Contrary to what Kai says, as the Rubik’s Cube being a pussy magnet, that is absolutely false – at least, not to my knowledge, but that’s neither here nor there. I like that there are those little things sprinkled into the album that reflect Logic’s interests and are brought about with a sense of humour. It makes the album a smooth listen like you’re watching a short film.
Getting back into the swing of things, Lord Willin’ continues the theme of Logic encouraging the listener to do something for themselves before it all fades away, to the best of your abilities as God allows (or whatever you believe in). I will say that production has been magnificent thus far, and I haven’t found myself to be annoyed or willing to skip (outside of the one that I mentioned) any songs, because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve been hearing. Logic is addicted to the drive of being one of the greats one day, which is why he’s always working and if he’s to be remembered for years, decades and centuries after he’s gone, this is the type of work ethic that he’s committing himself to, and there aren’t many people who take themselves or their careers seriously enough to make such a concerted effort to be great. I respect it.
“I’ve been living life, and I hope that you do the same
Cause if you ain’t doing what you love it’s only you to blame
Come on I’ve been through the game
By that time they know the name
Numb it down for the pain
This music my novacaine”
Life can seem short, but life can also be looked at as being a long time, depending on what your lifestyle’s like. If you do what you love, it seems to move in fast pace, whereas if you’re dreading what you do, it can move like a tortoise full of rigor mortis. It’s all about wondering if you’re willing to sacrifice something(s) in your life in order to make a better present or future. I mean, it is worth the thought.
City of Lights is hands down my favourite song on the album, because the one thing I absolutely love, which can make or break an artist, is when they step out of their shell of comfort and try something completely different. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, sometimes it does, but the fact that you’re willing to go into a new depth shows that you’re focused on growing to a certain degree. If this is a movie, then this song is the apex. The feeling I got when I first heard this song reminded me of when I was in Scarborough Town Centre (Foot Locker, specifically), and I heard Say You Will by Kanye West for the first time. It just stuck in my head, and not only the beat, but also just how melodic it sounded, it was like a hypnosis (I promise you that it sounds epic in studio headphones). In all honesty, the song could have just been the first verse with the singing, and it’d be great just with that, but the fact that a fully rapped verse that’s airing of grievances came with it? Well that’s just bonus, and I was definitely here for it. The 2nd verse gives more context as to what or who Logic is singing about breaking up with, and the culprit just happens to be none other than the lovable Hip Hop. Everyone knows how much the industry can be a pain in the ass, but unless you really experience it for yourself, that’s where you hear the frustrations come to life from the business side and the fan’s side.
“I didn’t talk about my race on the whole first album
But black vs white bullshit was the still the outcome
How come these motherfuckers can’t seem to let it go
Judging rap by race instead of the better flow
Who gives a fuck who made it, I penetrated and innovated
While they emulated, give a fuck if I’m hated
I’mma do it til I get it, fuck a nominated”
“I love Hip Hop and I hate Hip Hop
Cause people that love Pac hope that Drake get shot
Cause he raps about money and bitches, for heaven’s sake
Pac did the same shit, just on a drum break”
Those are just a couple examples of things that came out through the lengthy 2nd verse of the song, and while discussing how he felt he was treated by Def Jam over the first album, and how he hates how fans are so fickle because artists like Drake, Kid CuDi, Childish Gambino, and others have a softer side to them and have ‘feminized’ Rap, that also has been a frustration for him (which is a solid argument, although I will say Pac did talk about more than money & bitches). This is Logic’s crown jewel, I must say, because it really speaks to what this generation of rap has evolved into, in terms of style, sound, and just who influenced them. Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreaks is 7 years old, but it was the album that changed the scope of Rap and inadvertently gave birth to a sub-genre of artists which ushered in many acts that probably wouldn’t have had a voice had Kanye not made that record. And given that there are multiple layers of Kanye’s influence engrained on this track, that just shows off how important he is to the game, putting all personal shenanigans to the side. The album could have ended here and I would have stood up to give it a standing O, but lest we forget that Thomas & Kai are still on their mission. At least they have a great soundtrack to listen to on their way to Paradise.
When you’re mixed to some degree, people feel as though you’re born with a silver spoon, because you can still have some privilege that can work in your favour. In Stainless, Logic does his best to dispel that remark and show people that you can get what you want by not just resting on your laurels and thinking that everything that’s worth value comes in material packages, but it actually worth more in valuable experience and doing what you love. The money is just extra.
“Momma and daddy never bought us
Not a god damn thing but they brought us
Broke as hell we couldn’t fund the trust
Outside run around with a gun to bust
Police looking for every one of us
Back then yeah all of that was fun to us”
Remaining humble and appreciative for the struggles is what’s common for a lot of people, although there’s a contingency of people who feel as though humility makes you weak, and I can agree to both sides that it’s good to be humble, but you have to have confidence in yourself as well. It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments and feel as though you can do whatever, because you as an individual pushed through to make it happen for yourself. Pat yourself on the back. I don’t know who Dria is, but she floated all over the hook, and yet again, Chicago displaying their talent for the world to see – what else is new? Production, again, is incredible.
Thomas and Kai are back for another scene with Babel, and more context seeps in with regards to the purpose of this mission. Now, between books, the Bible (if you’re of Christian faith), and movies depicting the end of days, there is a strong belief that the Earth as we know it might not live to see the next century based on how we, as humans are constantly depleting it constantly. It’s a sad reality to face, but I also believe that we can’t possibly be the only inhabitants in this massive universe. That’s what I believe, and it turns out, that’s what Logic might believe as well. The mission to find another planet to inhabit like Earth is one that has been told before (hence the Interstellar reference) but the worry that Thomas has is that humans will just repeat their mistakes and live life without logical sense and destroy the next planet in due time. It’s certainly something to think about, considering the status of the Earth right now, although the Earth is not supposed to have any ‘significant’ catastrophe for another billion years (give or take), unless humans mess that all up.
That bass line that starts up Paradise is so smooth, that it’s damn near a face-screwer. Logic serves as the ambassador of Earth for Thomas & Kai as he goes back into his recollection to his youth and that background information that I told you about that you could dig through on the first album, well he presents it here in another lengthy but intimate song that switches up much like Under Pressure did when it got real to the core. In the 2nd half, you hear the confidence of Logic growing as he addresses the people who have been plotting on his downfall, and also the fact that he’s not just in this to sell records or be one of those names that comes and goes. He’s trying to change the game for the better, an what’s the beauty of music if someone isn’t having a lasting impression in the long run? You’ve go to respect that, and he makes it easy to root for because it doesn’t dawn on you like it’s an act. He’s someone that you can sit down and be able to relate to. That’s what makes a great artist. I mean, it only helps that quality music is made in the process, and clearly that’s what’s happening currently.
“This for the people that been through it and couldn’t do it
Had a vision but blew it, while haters screaming “I knew it!”
This is real, so real
The type of shit that make you feel like you gotta kill
Most of these people will never hit fruition
Paying tuition when they should’ve just listened their intuition
Now they wishing they was switching up their lifestyle”
If that doesn’t hit home with many people, I don’t know what does, because someone, or anyone, anywhere is hoping that you don’t do well because they’re not doing well. It’s the crab-in-a-barrel mentality, and it’s a sad, yet continued trend that doesn’t seem to ever want to go away, nor will it.
If you’re really going through some personal turmoil or you’re stuck in a crosshairs between what you want to do in your life and what you need to do to survive, then I’m sure this is a great soundtrack to have around for encouragement purposes. Many people have their views towards music that does their best to uplift them. For example, “man, if I want to be sad, let me be sad. Don’t tell me to cheer up and be positive. Let me just wallow in my own pity until I’m good and ready to come out.” There’s nothing wrong with that. At all, but some people stay in those depths of darkness with no glimmer of hope to get out, so words from Logic on Never Been, which are essentially extended from the latter half of Paradise will stick to someone, even if it isn’t you. I certainly appreciate the lyrics, because as a 20-something, and knowing people who don’t know exactly which way to go with their lives, sometimes hearing it from someone you don’t even know, albeit indirectly, is beneficial. Rap music is therapeutic (Google it, it’s true) and songs like this help people get through dark points, especially with hooks that encourage to be repeated by the listeners as chants to self-motivate or serve as reminders that you can overcome. That’s what I appreciate. Providing a voice to those who feel voiceless. And given that Logic is a man who knows he’s not perfect, but yet is living by learning to not make the mistakes of his makers, I can relate to that in many ways, and it’s great when you can have that connection with an artist, whether it be intentional or not.
I love how the ending segued right into Run It seamlessly. This album has been full of those nice transitions, and that’s an oft-underappreciated aspect when it comes to what makes albums great. The little things. The soul sample and then as the beat kicks in, you can’t help but bop your head, shoulders, and get into a full-blown jig. It’s one of my favourites on the album, most definitely. Really, there’s not much that you could ask for in an album to be delivered. Is there consistency? Yes. Are there various displays of rap skill & overall artistry? Yes. Is production solid? Yes. I don’t know what more you could ask for, because there have been way more Pros than Cons with regards to this album, and this song is like the solidified stamp that puts Logic in the conversation of rappers that should be talked about and not overlooked because of the cluster of artists that are jockeying to be in the conversation of the higher-ups, being the Big 3 in Kendrick, J.Cole & Drake. Logic displayed his artillery and when into combat mode when there were doubts that he’d be much more than a mixtape artist who wasn’t capable of putting together a solid album. It looks as though we could be wrong.
It’s the 2nd last scene of the movie and there’s an interesting point made in Lucidity, in which Thomas & Kai bring up the fact that original music hasn’t been made since people left Earth. That could also be Logic saying indirectly that because a lot of music sounds the same lately, it’s as though no one has what it takes to make something more fulfilling and inspiring. Something outside of the box that people will appreciate. I think that’s fair to put that out there, because there is some cookie cutter business in the music industry happening, but Hip Hop has always survived in phases. It’s just about, what will be the next wave that artists will latch onto? Who knows, but Logic apparently wants to stand alone on his own island so people can separate him from everyone else.
The grand sign off, that is the title track, is for the fans and is a message of love and appreciation for the life he’s living, and for others to strive to have that same feeling for themselves in whatever it is that they want to do professionally.
“I’mma just do what I do with my crew
Ain’t no telling what I’m finna do
But I promise that I’mma keep writing for you
And I know what to do
Everything right here for you
Only for you, depending on what you gonna do”
I know it’s cliché for artists to say that they love their fans (which I’m sure all of them do to some degree), but seriously, I know Logic loves his fans. I remember being at his first Canadian show in Toronto, and not only was it sold out, but the amount of people that were there waiting for him afterwards, and the encores, and his genuine presence as he greeted fans, plus his social media interactions, he loves his fans. This album is like an open letter not only to himself, but to his fans. It’s him finding his way, but also letting the Day ones know that they have been part of the process, although it started with him. The jazzy approach to this song sounds like you could have put Vic Mensa right on the song and it would have come out the same way, and that’s not to knock Logic at all, but Vic was the first person to come to mind, because of how the flow was used especially on the 3rd verse. What grabbed me the most was the speech by Alan Watts that was inserted towards the end. To summarize, he talks about the importance of finding something that you love to do, as opposed to chasing money, because then you’ll spend a lifetime doing things you hate, just for the sake of money. Money is such a big deal for many people and they’ll go about any ways to get it. But when you go after what you love, you’re putting in sacrifices financially, yes, but the reward is so much greater when you’re doing something that you love. It’s a very intelligent excerpt (I imagine the whole speech to be great as well), and I feel as though more people need to be told that, instead of doing the same things over and over again to continue the mediocre process of life that we’ve been systematically force-fed since birth. Times change, time to change with them. Last but not least, the conclusion of the film, and the heroes, Thomas & Kai, finally reaching Paradise. It would end on a cliffhanger, just because why not?
Honestly, from when it went live on Spotify (gotta get in the plugs), I listened to it once and I had to by it. And then when I bought it, I had to digest it more and more. There’s been a lot of music to come out this year and the conversation of Rap album of the year seems to have shifted a thousand times since last December when J.Cole released 2014 Forest Hills Drive (let’s just call it a January 2015 release for fun). Logic game with his big boy pants on and sat at the adult table with this one. I was pleasantly surprised by the growth and no sense of bullshit that would be put on display over the course of 16+ tracks. The inclusion of a scripted format with actors, and your sound effects to really pull off that short film feel, was creative and something different. All people want is something different to show off that artists do have senses of imagination and don’t have to rely on old clips from movies to tell their stories for them. Create your own. Skits are one thing, but when you have a story built around an album and your music just plays out as the soundtrack while having a meaningful message to convey at the same time? I mean…wow. There’s not much more to say than that. This has been a year full of quality music and Logic certainly shifted my attention from many albums I listened to, away and geared my focus strictly to his, because it captivated and it should be praised as such. So much for a sophomore slump. This album really does show a transformation in the artist that Logic has become, and this is probably the beginning of a very bright future for him. How he tops this? No idea, but I will certainly appreciate this while it is here and fresh. Please give this the listen that it so deserves. A late candidate for Rap album of the year, but for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX