24 year old rapper Logic is a dictionary perfect definition of a talented rapper. Compare him to other seasoned big name lyrical rappers such as Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Common, and J. Cole, and he would fit right in. I could imagine him easily going on a tour with them and even appealing to those rappers’ fans. From first listen, he also sounds great. Logic obviously has the kicks to hang out with the pros; he has solid lyrics, can switch up his flows, and can play “look at me I’m cool” by rapping fast. Furthermore, it only helps that he came from a similarly troubled background, which helps cement his authenticity.
For those unfamiliar, Logic grew up in a troubled, vice afflicted environment. His parents suffered from crack addiction and alcoholism and his father abandoned him as a child. His brothers sold crack cocaine and he didn’t graduate high school, flunking out classes. So, Logic decided to pursue music, both as an escape and as a passion. This is a basic concept that a lot of hip-hop music originates from; a troubled childhood and lifestyle. From here, Logic paints his coming of age story through his gift of gab. One may ask then why I would give such an album a 3-star rating when “it should rightfully be awarded at least a 4 or even a 5”.
Similar to MF DOOM and Bishop Nehru’s collaborative album NehruvianDOOM, Under Pressure is frankly quite bland in ways. You can pair up a seasoned rap legend like MF DOOM with an early up and comer like Bishop Nehru and expect brilliance, but it produced underwhelming results. MF DOOM served a more behind the scenes role with production while Nehru spit his 2 cents, yet these 2 cents were only so impressive. When DOOM finally rapped on Disastorous, it overshadowed the rest of the album and only made me want to listen to another DOOM project. Whenever I listen to Under Pressure, it only makes me want to listen to good kid, m.A.A.d city more, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums of this decade thus far.
Under Pressure owes quite a bit of debt to good kid, m.A.A.d city, and while that can be said for the as a compliment in albums such as My Krazy Life, this is mentioned in a negative light. While not note by note, it takes from Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece, both thematically and sound wise throughout its entirety (‘Metropolis’ and ‘Under Pressure’ not only sample ‘Sing About Me’, ‘I’m Dying of Thirst’, but also take from its song structure). Even a girl named Nikki is used as Under Pressure’s Sherane, Kendrick’s love interest in good kid. It would only be more damning if Logic tried to present this album as an original piece. So while YG was able to take inspiration from good kid, while still presenting a creative and original piece for My Krazy Life, Under Pressure is blatantly dependent on it to the point that it runs dull. This is a shame considering that it’s still a pretty sounding album with a rapper of great ability.
Aside from the good kid rip offs, the production is laid back and pretty sounding. It’s inspired by quite a bit of jazz as well as a little trip hop. There is also a creative and well placed use of sampling within the album. Slowed down, dreary vocal croons creative a surreal atmosphere on songs like ‘Im Gone’, ‘Gang Related’, and ‘Bounce’. Synths are placed at the right moments, propelling songs like ‘Bounce’ that while possessing cringe worthy lyrics, help save the album and make it at least instrumentally a solid listen. Logic as a rapper struts his ability enough that he compliments the production, yet his lyrics walk the line between iffy and good, but only so original.
One could argue that this album is a wholly original and masterful piece of music. Such arguments have already been made, with MTV already claiming it as a candidate for Rap Album Of The Year. However, the lack of originality is enough to take the album out of such contention. I understand that Logic looks for inspiration from all music genres, ranging from artists such as Kanye West, Miles Davis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rakim, and many others, however while this explains the more positive aspects of the production, it doesn’t justify ripping off good kid m.A.A.d city. I’m sure that Logic’s Rattpack fanbase, MTV, and some other publications will praise this as one of the best projects this year. However, I look at it as an underwhelming debut by a rapper with so much more potential. Logic should think up more original ideas.
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