Logic – Under Pressure
Def Jam: 2014
Around the same time that Logic began work on his debut album, two paths for the on-the-cusp emcee had emerged directly in front of him. 2012’s tail-end had seen two of most successful debuts of the decade — Macklemore’s The Heist and Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city — by two artists known as writers of substance.
Few misunderstood good kid, a project that expertly exudes the values and experiences of its creator. Macklemore, on the other hand, sprinkled universal pop anthems into an otherwise deep and evocative album. The intensely personal and socio-political themes discussed throughout took a backseat to the overwhelming success of Heist‘s singles, which left countless listeners and critics with a vile aftertaste.
Logic often asserts himself as a top-notch lyricist, and yet — like many artists who make the same declaration — the claim hasn’t always held up. His past releases have shown tremendous doses of lyrical dexterity and intricate rhyming at times, but unoriginality and redundancy have plagued his most recent efforts.. On songs like “Tic Tac Toe” off Young Sinatra: Undeniable, Logic shows how easy of a transition he could make to the mainstream, with a hook stating, “And they wonder if he well-endowed/On stage tryna feel my dick through the crowd.” He often alludes to his background, but only superficially, trying to gain respect from more old-fashioned listeners. Only a handful of songs (namely, “Dear God” and “Dead Presidents III”) ever really granted the listener a view into his world, and after years of listening, the commonplace mentions of his biracial past, parents’ drug addictions and brother’s dealing became quite repetitive and shallow. Recycling his own lines (“L-o-g-i-c” has left his mouth at least a dozen times) doesn’t help, either.
Under Pressure quiets many of these qualms; it’s the album of a rapper who wants to prove himself a lyricist and storyteller. It’s the album of an artist wanting to connect. Throughout the twelve-song project, Logic’s bar for lyricism rarely lowers, from the darker, downtempo production of “Gang Related” and “Nikki” to the trap-inclined, staccato-snare laden “Bounce. ” On “Growing Pains III,” he raps, “Won’t ever bounce like my daddy did/But I’m glad he did, ‘cause it made me strong/Maybe help somebody with this song/Paint the picture of him/Growing up, what it was like,” a familial threat running through most of the records on this LP. These tracks treat the listener to accounts of his struggles more in-depth than ever before, dealing with first-person and third-person perspectives and narratives.
The drama and past-grappling culminates in the album’s long-lasting standout, “Under Pressure,” where Logic interprets an array of different voicemails he’s been left by family members. His response comes at the end, in “Stan”-esque fashion, with a verse that wins through honest and spur-of-the-moment transparency: “Dear family, I’m so sorry that I’ve been distant/Everything changed in an instant, my time has been inconsistent/I know that you been insisting/I know that birthday I missed it…” For a twenty-four-year old, Logic boasts an unusual ability to reflect on events new and old.
Under Pressure is Logic’s chance to share who he is with the world, and in doing so, he has finally cemented himself as one of the game’s most promising young artists. Once he fully realizes his potential, he might just find himself the maker of a true classic.
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Under Pressure on Amazon.