Rapper Logic makes his mark with debut album

Elliott Williams

For decades, hip-hop has gained a reputation of being a genre full of artists who have no meaningful lyrical content. Rappers boast about materialistic desires, are hardly relatable and their songs often lack musicianship. As a hip-hop fan, this has been hard to watch. 

Yet, every now and then, an artist comes along who restores hope in this urban art form. 24-year-old Maryland native Logic is just that artist.

He’s not exactly what you would call “mainstream” and probably fits in around the same tier of rappers as ScHoolboy Q (flashback to Hoops Mania) in terms of recognition. But this is quickly shifting, as Logic’s debut album “Under Pressure,” released Oct. 21, is launching the young emcee into the big leagues. 

Logic raps like a veteran on the album, and for those who’ve never heard of him before, it seems like he came out of nowhere. This, however, is certainly not the case. With four official mixtapes under his belt, all receiving serious critical acclaim, a massive Internet following and a major recording contract with Def Jam, Logic is no stranger to the ins and outs of the music industry. 

Born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II to a black father and a white mother, and “coming up broke,” as he told The Huffington Post, Logic has packed a lot of living into these past 24 years, and it all culminates with this debut album. 

As a warning, “Under Pressure” deals with a lot of sensitive topics, and features explicit lyrics. Logic has witnessed his parents deal with drug use and alcoholism, a brother who dealt crack cocaine and a sister who’s been in an abusive relationship, all of which he discusses in full detail on the album. Thus, the LP comes off like an intense musical motion picture.

The lyricism is effortless on each track, and the flow is natural, resembling hip-hop legends such as Nas and A Tribe Called Quest, both of whom he cites as influences.  The second track on the album, Soul Food, is nearly five minutes of confessions, stories about his family and self-reflection on his newfound success. 

“This is feelings on a page,” he raps, wanting the listener to “see my vision from pictures I paint” (“Soul Food”).  He is quick and witty, supplying countless references to pop culture: 

“Come home and see an eviction notice taped to my door

Can’t take no more, momma on drugs, daddy M.I.A

What can I say? I just wanted to be a Kid ‘n Play” (“Soul Food”). 

Clearly Logic’s music is not for those looking for lighthearted club bangers. But his music is honest, and his story is real. It’s refreshing to hear a musician be so consistently expressive on 12 tracks, which are all written by him. The Deluxe edition of the album has 15 tracks and only two featured rappers, Childish Gambino and Big Sean, who appear on two of these bonus tracks. 

This album is Logic’s story to tell, so the other 13 tracks are simply Logic delivering verses and hooks, with occasional background singers.

One of the most impressive tracks, titled “Gang Related,” features a verse in which Logic raps from the perspective of himself as a child, followed by a verse in which he speaks from his brother’s point of view. It’s a profound and dynamic moment on the album that ought to gain the attention of other musicians and fans alike.

The production on the album is rewarding and complete, which only complements his vocals.

Jazzy guitar riffs echo in the background, while hard-hitting drum samples keep the sound true to hip hop. Logic himself contributed a significant amount of the beat-making, proving that he is an artist who is here to stay. 

Logic’s downfall comes in his repetition, as well as his copying of other artists’ styles and lyrics. However, this is a practice he isn’t ashamed of, as he seeks to pay homage to the great lyricists to whom he is often compared.

The message is clear: Logic made it through all the pain and suffering of his past, and this Under Pressure is an album that celebrates this.

Hip hop lovers, here is your album. It’s gritty. It’s raw. But most of all, it’s real.