31 October 2014

REVIEW: Logic - Under Pressure

"I used to wonder what it feel like?" A line vamped halfway through Logic's intro track resonates differently with me than he probably intended.  The song represents a culmination of the Maryland native’s hard work put in over the past four years finally paying off. It’s him briefly reminiscing about the days when he dreamt of success, and now being able to enjoy it. When I hear that line in particular though, it makes me think of everyone in Logic's generation who have been deprived of that feeling hip-hop is supposed to give you, and he being the shining sun sent to help keep that feeling alive. I think about raw lyricism, soulful beats, and storytelling. I also think about older generations who have been fed up for a decade plus with the direction they think the culture is heading, and instead stick to what they grew up on. But after running through the first few tracks of Logic's album "Under Pressure," you quickly begin to notice the influences from legends over several early generations of hip-hip soaked into this stellar debut effort.

Logic kicks the album off with a head-nod banger in Soul Food, which is split into two golder-era-esque tracks, and shows off his verbal versatility across both beats. The first half features an expertly sampled, and purely soulful beat that sounds like it was ripped fresh from 1994. The second portion picks up the pace on the production side and lyrically, with Logic straight spazzin left and right to finish off a song that almost serves as a blueprint for the rest of the album. Placing such a strong track so early on an album may not seem smart strategically, but Logic maintains the heat throughout the course of the entire project.

One thing Logic understands about the rap game is, there is still a huge portion of fans who expect you to be from the streets and be able to tell that story through your music for credibility. But even though Logic grew up around it, he didn't live that life himself. So to put a twist on the idea that living that street life validates you, he briefly puts himself in his family's shoes speaking from their perspectives on Gang Related, cleverly illustrating their struggles while at the same time showing that his surroundings taught him which direction not to go with his life.

Logic also speaks on one of his major vices in life, nicotine, and flips it Rick James style by referring to cigarettes as if they were a girl named Nikki. A concept that has indeed been done plenty in the past, Logic still manages to make it his own and never comes off like he is stealing from anyone. When you are as lyrically gifted as Logic, it's tough to ever say the he is copying another artist. Even though there will be several times where you try to compare this project to the likes of Illmatic, Midnight Marauders, or any OutKast album, Logic maintains his identity as a true artist, even though the influences are evident.

It's tough to call this album anything other than a classic, but that word gets thrown around far too loosely these days. The test of time determines where an album stands when it's all said and done, but it's also hard to imagine Logic coming out the gate with a stronger debut album. This one will be getting spins for months, and hopefully, years to come.

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