Arts, Music

Rapper Logic Prevails ‘Under Pressure’ In Studio Debut

4 Stars

With success comes the pressure to prove your worth.

So far, Logic has dealt with the pressure fairly well, establishing himself as one of rap’s most exciting new faces. In this last year, he signed to Def Jam Recordings, released his breakout mixtape Welcome to Forever, and has supported the likes of Kid Cudi and Big Sean on tour. The release of Under Pressure, his major-label debut LP, demonstrates that he has no plans to slow his meteoric rise.

A major milestone in Logic’s young career, Under Pressure serves as a pause to look back at his story in its entirety—from his rough upbringing in Maryland and troubles with his family to difficulties innovating as an artist. While the content is rather dark, hearing a 24-year-old man chronicle his life’s journey so candidly is refreshing. His delivery might echo the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Eminem, but is infectious in its own right, and the story contained in his lyrics, just as enthralling.

Over the course of Under Pressure’s 56-minute runtime, Logic keeps away from over-baked hip-hop tropes, instead tells a coming-of-age tale, marked by honesty and vulnerability. The album’s eponymous track conveys this theme: his rapid, razor-sharp verses proclaiming his worth are interwoven with musings on a family he struggles to love, and the track includes actual voicemail recordings from his parents. Herein lies the true appeal of Under Pressure: the record does not hesitate to share intimate parts of Logic’s life. From snippets of conversations with friends regarding Donnie Darko to news audio about a gang shootout in his hometown, the record is a blunt—oftentimes jarringly detailed—autobiography.

Under Pressure at times feels like a roadmap to the influences in Logic’s career. Instrumentally, the record is a collage, speaking to the eclecticism of the young rapper’s tastes. Logic’s debut LP is a nod to artists of various genres—from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to A Tribe Called Quest and OutKast.

Beginning with the Drake-inspired “Intro,” the record quickly shifts gears with the gospel-inspired “Soul Food” and the jazzy “I’m Gone.” Each of the album’s songs reflects Logic’s attention to instrumental detail, with no two songs sounding entirely alike in terms of musical styling. This contrast is buffered by the variety of subjects Logic covers in this reflective journey through his past. The album runs the gamut from anthemic jams about perseverance to topical tracks on his affair with “Nikki” (nicotine). It is remarkable how much Logic discloses—and in such detail—without the record exceeding a full hour in run length.

Under Pressure is less of a statement about Logic’s potential as a musician as it is an affirmation of his humanity. With the exception of bonus tracks on the deluxe release featuring Childish Gambino and Rick Ross, there are no featured artists on the album, placing our focus squarely on the story conveyed rather than the storytellers. Most of his songs are bookended by a robotic-voiced woman (think of A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders) that offers a glimpse into the production of the album. These production choices might individually seem insignificant, but they collectively speak to the unorthodoxy of Logic’s artistry. Although the album itself is a mark of his success, Logic is hell-bent on reminding his audience how tumultuous and testing his journey was to get where he is today. Sure, Young Sinatra has handled the pressure well, but Under Pressure stresses that success is always accompanied by pressure—and it’s in his response to pressure that the artist is born.

Featured Image Courtesy of Columbia Records

October 22, 2014

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