Logic, the self-professed “little fish that went mainstream”, has released his debut album Under Pressure. It is the artist’s first released since being signed to Def Jam and he has delivered a stirringly personal motion-picture-like album exploring his journey through life.
The voyage begins with “Intro”, effectively foreshadowing the end goal of his journey; conjuring images of Logic floating on air, revelling in his success with the rest of the album. Logic shifts into darker notes on “Soul Food”, “as memories surface from hella long in [his] past”. Reminiscing about his difficult upbringing, his mother’s drug abuse and his estranged father, he bares his soul on this one. “I’m Gone” interestingly is the only song (aside from the bonus tracks) in which Logic doesn’t stand solo. It features female vocalist and Logic’s girlfriend, Jessica Andrea – her presence reinforces its sentimentality and autobiographical quality. “Gang Related” is a highlight, sampling the mesmerising “Carrot Man” by Sepalcure. Logic’s rhymes dance with conviction as he switches up his flow here and there, taking on the voice of his childhood-self in the first verse and his older brother in the second. In “Buried alive” Logic asks, “Do you really wanna be famous?” shining a light on his ambivalent feelings towards stardom, mirroring the complexities of emotion through an intricate web of words while rapping at double-time. “Bounce” is an energising inclusion, standing out against the album’s predominantly 90s feel before Logic slips in a throwback to his previous works with the third addition to his “Growing Pains” instalments, adhering soundly to the ever-present sense of progression.
‘Nikki’ is referred to profusely and obscurely throughout the album before her identity is revealed to be a metaphor for Logic’s destructive relationship with nicotine (a great moment in the album). The track “Under Pressure” was produced by Logic himself. Utilising a beguiling sample, Logic reflects on how his personal relationships have suffered at the hands of fame. The inclusion of voicemail messages from family members is particularly touching. Logic signs off with a bang in “Till the end”, taking a final jab at his doubters as he blasts: “It’s Logic / The one nobody would vouch for, / how’s that sh*t for an outro”. The bonus tracks, ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ (featuring Childish Gambino), ‘Now’, and ‘Alright’ (featuring Big Sean) also provide some really impressive moments.
The robotic voice of ‘Thalia’, who narrates throughout, informs us that the album was heavily influenced by “Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and films by Quentin Tarantino”. However, Logic is as much a rapper on this album as he is a mushy fan, and the nods to his heroes are far from subtle. For instance, I’m sure I’m not alone when I confess that the album left a Good-Kid-Mad-City-shaped impression on my eardrum. At certain moments throughout his little journey of over-indulgence, Logic exhausts this influence – From “Metropolis”’ uncannily similar sample and lyrical plot to that of Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing about Me”, to the unrelenting layered voice-distortion that Logic employs. Logic’s efforts could be interpreted as an attempt to profit off well-received work; Perhaps the pressure of trying to live up to swimming heights has seen him shrinking into a corner, calling upon all his heroes to come and bail him out.
Nevertheless, as a bright, young musician, these shortcomings could be explained away as a trait of Logic’s excitability and endearing nature. For me, much of the anticipation for his future projects is fuelled by eagerness to see him progress and infuse his work with outside influences rather than drench it with them. In any case, Under Pressure is a solid and inspired album, and Logic undoubtedly delivered an album that makes for great listening as one of 2014’s best debuts.