I don’t want to say Logic and I are best friends buttttttttttt...
In all seriousness, I feel a connection to Logic that extends further than just our shared DMV-roots. First and foremost, he has a passion and respect for hip-hop--rap nerd recognize rap nerd-- but more than that he seems genuine and authentic as an emcee and, more importantly, a human being. I root for him, I’m interested in his career, I'd love to see him have a long one, but in all honesty, none of that has translated into his music truly resonating with me.
I stand by everything I wrote in my 1 Listen Review of Under Pressure (well, in retrospect, I can't really call it “maybe the album of the year”), but that energy and excitement that I felt at the moment haven't really meant more spins long term. I’m not quite sure why. I wish I had a good reason. I wish I could explain it, but I can’t. Maybe that’s part of my failure as a writer, but I think it also speaks to that essence of music that extends beyond words or reason.
The albums that stick with you have that “it,” something you can't quite explain but you know instantly. The albums that stick with you stick with you because they offer something you can't get anywhere else. I think that’s what I need to hear from Logic. I know Logic can rap, I know he loves hip-hop, I know he can produce, but I think I’m still waiting to see something truly unique from Logic. It’s hard finding your identity in the real world, let alone the world where your work is being meticulously analyzed and judged, but that’s the challenge facing any rapper. What does he offer me that others can’t? Where is that special “it”?
It’s something that can't be found or quantified after one listen, but in the first listen, you can certainly hear signs of it. Like waking up to the smell of bacon on a Sunday morning, your senses pick it up before your brain becomes conscious of it. Clues, leads and artifacts that lead to something deeper, and that's what I’ll be looking for as I begin Logic’s The Incredible True Story.
My apple pie scented candle is lit (shouts out Yankee Candle), my headphones are on, per 1 Listen Review rules this will be my gut reaction as I listen for the first time, no pausing or rewinding, let’s go to space!
Epic drums. Not a bad way to start. Oh shit, angelic chorus too? I feel like If I was an astronaut walking out to the ship before takeoff this is the music my brain would be making. Wondering if this is going to breakdown and he's going to go nuts or it’s more of an intro. Dialogue now? This is like that first time you play a video game, you want to hear the story and watch the cut scenes but you also want to start murking zombies. “The album that changed everything” is a bold proposition.
I knew "Fade Away" was released before but in an effort to keep the sanctity of the one listen I didn’t check it out, so excuse me while I fuck with that sample for a second. Okay. Okay….OHHH I like this double-time flow. Shit. I thought the last verse was double-time. This. This is that double time. Logic sounds so crisp, I like the juxtaposition with the cloudier backdrop. Those drums at the end are nice. I love when rappers do something with the end of the track production-wise, it’s a small detail but can really take the song to the next level. Okay, more dialogue. It wouldn't be a Logic album without that female robot voice. I wonder who that is? Like, what’s her story? I’m not going to spoil the dialogue for y’all though.
I like this record, but it sounds a little too similar to “Fade Away.” Felt like a good time to change the pace. Woah. Now it's different. I like that little sing-rapping part. Logic’s very good at changing up the pace and structure of his flow without losing momentum. Feels natural. Drums on point again. So far I have absolutely no complaints.
I’d like to know how writing these little bits of dialogue works. Like it must be different from writing a verse. In fact, what's producing one of these like? Never really thought about that before. It's a skit that doesn't really make sense to go in the context of an album review though, so....
Interesting flip here. So far the beats have been pretty airy and atmospheric, sort of like a take-off...wonder if he’s building to something? Setting us up for a big change would go well with the thematic direction the album is headed in. Hey man, I know he’s rapping and stuff, but these drums are great. The production is carrying this track so far, not to say Logic isn’t rapping well, but lyrically, not sure a line has jumped out at me. Logic drew me in with those one liners so many years ago; I’d like to hear a few. Nice breakdown at the end here (again). I love the attention to detail on the instrumentals.
"Young Jesus" (ft. Big Lenbo)
Glad there was no skit in-between these two tracks, time to hit our stride. Again, I missed this one when it dropped so it’s that much fresher, not that a few weeks of riding out to this one would make it any less fresh. Now this feels like a keeper. Is that an ESG “UFO” sample I heard? Props, I see you Big Lenbo. He and Logic are a nice 1-2. Yeah, this is a keeper. Logic sounds irked; I like it.
"Innermission (ft. Lucy Rose)"
See, that’s a good transition. This beat is a lot softer than “Young Jesus,” but it’s a nice change of pace. The album is starting to flow…Oh, this one feels good. I like Logic’s positivity and I feel like the beat echoes his sentiment; symbiosis or some shit. This that “it” I was talking about. Logic’s vulnerability and honesty are admirable and it makes this track a standout.
"I Am The Greatest"
I know this flip; Oddisee’s “Tangible Dream.” Same sample, slightly different speed, different drums. This one has a trappier feel than Oddisee’s, or any of the songs on this album for that matter. I feel like this is a big jump from "Innermission." He was so heartfelt and honest, I think that’s where he can make his mark, and this effort feels kind of out of character. I feel like he’s catering to a sound here instead of being truly himself.
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“Lord Willin’”? A nod to the Clipse? Cool bounce to this one. This is way better than “I Am The Greatest.” It has that same modern feel but with more life and color. His flow is better too and I like this hook. “Life ain’t picture perfect we use the negatives to develop,” one of Logic’s better lyrical efforts so far. I’ve always admired his positivity when it’s “cooler” to hate and breakdown others. We need that balance. Hey! I heard that! EETS MARIO!!! You can't sneak a Nintendo sample by me, Bobby!
"City of Stars"
Is this a break-up cut? I don’t think I’ve heard that from Logic before. Ohh, this is an interesting. I love that hollow, echoing lurching sound in the back. The Auto-Tune actually works pretty well on this; didn’t expect that. This has kind of an 808s & Heartbreak vibe to it, no? I know it’s more atmospheric, but I think this one could use a verse though. Perfect timing. Was that a shot at Def Jam? First K.R.I.T and now Logic? Interesting. Logic spitting some real truth. It’s no coincidence that the best songs on this album have some depth to them. Lots of Kanye references on this song too. Heart, honesty, and Kanye references, that’s how you win me over.
"Stainless" (ft. Dria)
Again, great beat. Sample feels familiar, but those drum brass-brazed effects are really unique. The production on this album has been on point. Ohh, were those gun-shot sounds? Add Logic to my list of rapper gunshot noises that I currently have going in my head. Also, I liked how he used the gunshots in a way you might not expect. It also fits with the title. Levels. Ohhhh nice to meet you, Dria. I’m gonna have to look her up. Woooooooo. Dude can spit. Gonna need more than one listen to digest this record. That’s what I was looking for. Songs that make you listen again.
Oh yeah, we’re in space. I kind of forgot (a good stretch of rappity raps there). The skits are well done, but I’ve yet to really hear the impact of them on the music. It feels secondary. Maybe I need the whole story though…
"Paradise (feat. Jesse Boykins III)"
Very excited for this Jesse Boykins III feature and that baseline only gets me more hype. A very cool guest feature. Let’s not forget about Logic, though. He’s sharp here. I liked that first, sharper flow as opposed to the smooth one. Very cool hook. Boykins was a perfect choice. Whoa, beat switch up? Feels very Under Pressure-y. Interesting switch. Feels like a completely different song. Gonna need another listen to catch every bar and get a sense of that transition. Nice work.
A little more colorful and poppy here. Again, I’ve said it a hundred times, but the production has been on point like a lighthouse. Logic’s heart is showing through here, but this effort feels like it’s missing a little something. I do like this build up at the end though. Like any successful porn shoot, there have been some strong finishes on this album. One of the highlights.
The production has been great, but this sample sounds like a few others on the album and they're starting to run together. Or maybe my brain is melting from typing non-stop? Was into this record until I heard the “last one was a classic” line. That’s a dangerous place to go for any rapper. I guess he’s allowed to stunt a little bit. Lots of punch to his flow on this one; here he’s outshining the production. Yeah, Logic definitely ran this one. Get it…”ran it”...on a song called run it. (You try being witty while trying to keep up with a dude rapping and type at the same time.)
This scene is going to be important, it's going to make or break the space theme for me so I’m just going to go listen. “Something more” huh? Where have I heard that one before?
"The Incredible True Story"
Wow. Love this live instrumental feel. Why did he wait to break this out at the end? I LOVE it and it suits Logic’s energy very well. Cool flow, too. This one is a keeper already and we've barely made it past the minute marker. The spacing here is interesting. Logic always fills every part of the song but there are some pauses and breaks here. I love this sample in the middle. Anyone have the source? I don’t know how to 1-listen the ending of the album because I don’t want to spoil it. What isn’t a spoiler is that these drums are cool; kind of been the case with this whole album. Seriously, how do I 1-listen this without ruining it? No idea. Just gonna listen…
Did I miss something?
I must have missed something…
I gotta go back!
And just like that, we’re done. Damn, who knew space travel could be so exhausting? This must be what Neil Armstrong felt like. Yeah, I’m pretty much the blogger version of Neil Armstrong. Oh yeah, the album...
It’s interesting. When I left Under Pressure, I thought I would go back over and over again. I was excited, enthused. With this one, it’s a very different feeling. Make no mistake, this is a very, very well made, well-produced album (the emphasis on closing out tracks and the overwhelming quality of the drums prove that), but I’m not gassed up. Maybe this one is more of a slow-burn, but I don’t have that post album high. I’m not sure if I got goosebumps once.
Still, I find myself interested in revisiting the album. While I have some questions about the space theme, I think the overall message was interesting. I was looking for some finality to Logic, being able to rank him in a tier, classify him, know him, but it’s hard to have that finality to his identity when Logic himself is using music to do the very same thing. Ironically, it’s in those moments (not the skits but the songs) where he openly engages in the search, which gives this album some staying power.
Artists don’t exist in vacuums, they experience, feel, fail and grow, just like we do and the music they make reflects that. Why I’m inclined to revisit this album is because at the very least Logic conveys his willingness to confront and wrestle with that struggle to find one's identity, in an honest and thoughtful manner and I respect the hell out of that. That’s what makes the Incredible True Story worth re-reading, and re-listening.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go do just that.