Logic’s Deeply Personal Debut Masterpiece: “Under Pressure”
When [emuze]Logic[/emuze] dropped “Alright” and “Driving Ms. Daisy” earlier in the year, Logic fans saw the young rapper break new ground by collaborating with some of Hip-hop’s biggest names, [emuze]Big Sean[/emuze] and [emuze]Childish Gambino[/emuze]. However, these collaborations did not make the final cut of his debut album, “Under Pressure,” and with good reason. Earlier in the year, Logic announced that the album would be a completely solo endeavor, with no guest artists appearing on any of the tracks. When you listen to the album it becomes apparent that this was a good decision, as no artist could tell the story of a young man creating success from a broken past better than the man who lived it.
“I’ve done some horrible things, me personally. I’ve ran around with guns, knives… I was a real dumb, young [kid],”
In Verge Campus’ exclusive interview with Logic, the rapper claims he has done “horrible things.” He discusses “Gang Related”, the fourth song of the album, which tells the story of Logic’s adolescent exposure to violence and gang life. “I ran around with guns, knives… I was a real dumb, young [kid],” he says. The song retells these experiences through the eyes of both Logic and his older brother, who try as he might couldn’t keep Logic from following the same path. The song is visceral and intimate, detailing an economic struggle so fierce that Logic’s older brother was forced to sell crack to an addict father that had abandoned them. Logic raps these murderous and violent lyrics not with the sense of pride found in most hip-hop, but with fear and regret.
The album is riddled with samples from all corners of music, paying homage to rap artists as old as KRS One, [emuze]Outkast[/emuze], [emuze]A Tribe Called Quest[/emuze] and Eazy E, to new talent like [emuze]Kid Cudi[/emuze]. Logic samples Bill Withers’ “Use Me” twice on the album, with one instance being the album’s title track. It is the combination of incredible samples and masterful lyricism to create a truly memorable musical experience. A sample of Jeff Beck’s “Love is Green” drives the tenth track of the album, “Nikki,” a song hyped for weeks prior to the album with a promotional campaign by Logic using the hashtag #whoisNikki. The sample is the only thing that plays for the first half of the song, a soft, lilting guitar lick that haunts the space behind Logic’s lyrical breakdown of his battle with nicotine addiction. The lyrics are presented as a love song, with Logic claiming he “hates that I need you, but I love it when I feed you,” only revealing the true identity of “Nikki” in the last seconds of the song. It is then that the haunting lyrics like “a free man born as a king, who died as a slave” start to ring true, changing the rest of the song from a profession of love to a plea for escape.
Logic has grown, and it shows. While he’s still the same kid who named himself Young Sinatra, gone is the youthful jaunts of tracks like “All I Do.” What has replaced it is a powerful and personal statement, a testament to a difficult life illustrated by complex lyrics and sampling genius. “Under Pressure” is not only a breakthrough album selling 71,511 copies within its first week and putting him at #4 according to HitsDailyDouble, but Logic’s stamp on the modern hip-hop world, a stamp that wont easily be forgotten.
The album, which can be streamed in full below via Spotify, is available for purchase on iTunes here.