“This what you all been waitin' for, ain't it?” —Logic, “Everybody Dies”
Time is woefully unforgiving. The arrow only plunges forward, and with it brings pleasure and pain indiscriminately. Time is all we have to give and take from one another, and time is the only true measure of legacy. That is, how much time until something becomes legend? Or, how much time until something becomes forgotten?
In the realm of music, perhaps nothing stings more than to go unnoticed. Being loved is wonderful; the ultimate goal. Hate, at the least, is a visceral response and means people are listening. Apathy, however, is cutting and nothing more. It doesn’t pay bills and it doesn’t sell tickets and is becoming all the more common in a music climate where fans can afford to be fickle. The financial barrier to entry to being a dedicated fan of an artist has shrunk to nothing, and with that, securing fans for the long haul has become essential. Unless your name is Drake, those streaming checks won’t buy anyone the mansion of their dreams.
In the case of Logic, his fans are zealots of the best variety. They’re rarely on the offensive and are ready to purchase physical copies in mass numbers. Even so, with the speed at which music is moving forward, and the rate at which Logic is reinventing himself, there is something to be said for the excitement circling his most recent release, YSIV. The long-awaited and often asked-for addition to the beloved Young Sinatra series comes five years after the release of Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever. Five years in music might as well be eons.
Yet, Logic fans, who have been fed at least one release a year for nearly a decade, never once forgot about Young Sinatra. Check the comments on any piece of Logic content, or any commentary from Logic himself. There is even a track on YSIV entitled “The Return” to stress the issue. Logic has fans; Young Sinatra has stans.
The question remains, then, how is it that Logic sustained excitement for a persona abandoned five years prior? The answer: Logic has centered his career around cultivating legacy while simultaneously evolving as an artist in real time.
YSIV opens with the final lines of the skit that closes Logic’s third studio album, Everybody. Weaving your releases into one universe is an obvious note; of course, that helps Logic develop his legacy. The real points of interest are the voicemails from fans across the world, an allusion to “World Wide” from the second Young Sinatra tape. Many of these YSIV voicemails include impassioned notes of first falling in love with Logic during the Young Sinatra era. From their excitement—along with the history of the voicemails to the YS series—we glean that to them, Logic began as, and has always been, their Young Sinatra.
And so while many records deal in hype, few artists have the capacity to consistently deal in legacy. Think about the immediacy of first-date butterflies versus the task of sustaining the excitement of night one to year 10. As the saying goes: you only get one first time. The rest are no more or less special, but the difference is noticeable. With YSIV, Logic is giving his fans a chance to recapture that first-time magic, while also making time a mutable thing.
Look no further than the 11-minute Fan Experience documentary Logic and his team released leading up to the album drop. For the album listening, Logic flew out 25 superfans for one Sinatra-themed night with ambiance abound. The passion for Young Sinatra is as alive as ever, and the gesture of the listening party underscored YSIV’s importance. From the documentary, we can gather that this album was a relief to fans, and though everyone was very well-dressed, the experience itself appeared intimate and insulated.
That necessary delicacy was tantamount. At the least because, between the interviews in the documentary and the album’s opening voicemails, we can gather that Young Sinatra is a precious thing to Logic fans: the Fabergé egg of his artistic arc.
So, how did we get here? With a special consideration to timing, mostly.
“The reason why this album is so special and the people love it—what I’ve released, and what they’ll hear—so much, is because I made them wait for it,” Logic told Nick Huff of Hard Knock TV. Over the past five years, Logic tactfully peppered Young Sinatra into his music: The Incredible True Story’s “Young Jesus,” showing the softer side on his “Tree of Life” single with Slug of Atmosphere and Killer Mike, and featuring as Young Sinatra on Big Lenbo’s “Ice Cold” and “Bobby Tarantino II’s “Warm It Up.”
While the Young Sinatra series was thought to be cut short in 2013, it’s clear that Logic remained just withholding and coy enough to keep the persona on fans’ minds. Their own zeal kept the persona alive in their hearts. That is legacy in the most organic sense: an idea that can take root and sprout without much outside prodding.
Following that line of thinking and keeping with our fine art metaphor, Logic had been hiding clues hinting at the existence of YSIV since his stunning Everybody cover. As his trusted painter and friend Sam Spratt told us: “That’s cool to have things where he is thinking far enough ahead, and I get to work with him to figure out how to visually drop those things. So in the album cover itself, we have things people haven’t found yet, but also in the packaging.” Here we see how legacy and long term engagement go hand-in-hand, or in the case of Spratt, hand-in-brush.
In tandem, videos and announcements were—save for the “One Day” video—minimalistic and direct. Logic posted a “YSIV Freestyle” to Twitter, which was just him rapping for two minutes in an empty garage, but there was something welcoming about the simplicity of it all. Much like piecing together the YSIV logo he and Spratt had hidden in the album artwork, watching the freestyle felt like a homecoming moment that also happened to be watershed.
Here’s the good news: the music stacks up.
The carefully stitched quality of the rollout proves that legacy is not all about opulence, and much of YSIV attempts to redefine our conception of legacy. Dotted across the record, Logic presents a disdain for materialism, along with his desire to be a thoughtful and present man, and future father. He emphasizes how trapping building a legacy can be, but also how freeing—if you find the balance between present and future.
Where there is no future legacy without present happiness, Logic sounds delighted to have made this album. We can hear him smiling through his spoken interludes. He is breathless and overjoyed on “100 Miles and Running,” with an elastic feature from fellow DMV native, Wale. With a hand in the past and an awareness of the now, we find the cinematic feel of his previous two studio albums fuse with the classic, point-by-point storytelling of the '90s on “Street Dreams II.” Of course, honoring Mac Miller on “YSIV” is legacy in its own right.
As we’ve come to expect from Logic, YSIV is packed with moral imperatives, the most relevant of which comes on the aptly titled “Legacy”: “We really should’ve just spent time.” On this track, Logic bucks legacy altogether, especially when it involves sidelining your loved ones, and instead resolves to be mindful and live his life in the present. Where Logic often speaks about sacrificing his 20s for a better life, the whole of “Legacy” is congruent with his personal struggles. Out from those warring ideals, we arrive at the core of how Logic cultivated and preserved the Young Sinatra legacy.
Recall 2014’s Under Pressure, largely understood to be Logic’s best studio album, and the refrain on the title track: “Work so fucking much, my greatest fear is I’mma die alone.” Where Logic—and Young Sinatra—is most loved for lyrics that inspire fans to hustle hard, it was always those moments of reasonable anxiety that presented him at his most human and approachable. Turning those fears into the multi-perspective storyline of “Legacy” and leaning into what originally made him a catching artist only speaks to how savvy Logic truly is.
Finally, we have the “Last Call” monologue to index every twist of Logic’s battle for stardom. The fight he began all those years ago and extended across the three previous Young Sinatra projects is finally won on YSIV. With a call to the past, in 2018, Logic sounds the most like himself. That’s legacy in action. The Young Sinatra legacy endured because Logic allowed his persona to exist in tandem with each of his at-the-time personas. Now, he is one rappity-rap being.
Logic made sure Young Sinatra would last forever.
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