Many rappers will claim to have a grassroots fan base, or that they are big on the internet. But Maryland-native Logic backs his claims up with packed meet-and-greets, sold out shows, and a digital army claiming his #Rattpack clique till the end. With his new album Under Pressure, his underground success is threatening to burst into the mainstream. To support his Def Jam debut, Logic held two NYC listening parties, both of which felt at once both very personal, and the start of something bigger.
The first event was on the night of the BET awards. Logic was posted up at the historic Quad Studios with top New York DJ talent and music bloggers to give them a sneak peak of the new songs. Logic broke down his inspiration and process for the tracks, and gave plenty og shout-outs to his influences and production. Many of the accolades were aimed at Logic’s longtime producer 6ix, who was chilling quietly in the back, smoking cigarettes. It only made the night more special that Logic was featured on the BET Cypher, where his spitfire lyricism won over many new fans. It was a heavy moment to watch Logic see himself on the large flat TV’s, killing it on national television just a week before his album drops.
The album itself is deeply reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar‘s Good Kid, Maad City – a highly biographic, metaphor-packed saga blending boom-bap with heavy layered production. Characters – such as the computerized narrator Thalia – add a theatricality to the work. Logic notes his influences, pointing out that Thalia is a direct homage to A Tribe Called Quest‘s Midnight Marauders. Logic explained that Thalia was named for the Greek Muse of music – another example of the depth, symbolism and thoughtfulness that permeates Logic’s work.
Hearing the album at two different events, with two distinct groups – DJ’s and fans, gave me an interesting perspective. One event was small and intimate, just music nerds and a lot of sound equipment. The second event at Santos Party House was truly for the fans, and featured a compelling interview by Rob Markman of MTV News, This was especially important to the 300 lucky fans in attendance. Hearing Logic discuss growing up mixed, in a broken home, gave a level of honesty and depth to the songs. One of the most interesting moments was when Logic described how his inspiration shifted. “In the beginning, it’s easy to be into weed, bitches, all that.” Logic said. “And there is a time for that for sure… but then you move on to deeper things.”
This new level of inspiration was most apparent on songs like “Gang Related.” Logic explained that there were two sides to the song – himself as a young boy, and then his brother, who was a gang member at the time. The dual perspective takes the 6ix produced banger to a new level. Both the DJ’s and the fans turned up to the song, which is dark and poignant – something to smoke and vibe to.
Another standout track was “Bounce” which layers in cries and spaced-out sound effects with lines like “We been at it way before the fame tho” and “I been focused on the music, Can’t fuck with no basic bitch” showcase Logic’s drive. The lyrics are clear and pulse perfectly with the beat, for a head nodding classic that showcases a more party-ready side of Logic, while still managing to comment on the very turn up culture he is participating in.
During the Santos party, Logic couldn’t help but rap a little for his fans.
He spit verses a cappella, grabbing the fans attention and quieting the excitable industry crowd.
In between songs, many of the interview questions seemed to veer toward preaching. He discussed various types of hip hop as branches in the same tree, with artists like 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane on one side, and artists like Kendrick and Childish Gambino on the other. With this album, it is clear Logic is leaning heavily on the Kendrick side. Each song has layers of meaning wrapped in classic, soulful beats. The album name Under Pressure is no accident either – this is Logic’s first major label release and his first shot at mainstream success. Time and the devotion of his grassroots fans will determine if all the pressure pays off. Regardless of sales, this album is sure to be received as a perfect continuation and evolution of Logic’s sound, and will take the listener right back to Logic’s days growing up in the DMV area.