Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, better known as 29-year-old rap phenomenon Logic, is an underground underdog who rose to hip-hop’s commercial mountaintop. It wasn’t an effortless ascent, nor was it quick, but the Billboard-topping success of 2017 Everybody—the Maryland-born rapper’s third album and the first to debut at number one—signified a new star crossing over.
So, what happens next?
Where does Logic go after reaching GRAMMY-nominated status? What follows the cultural importance and radio dominance of a 5x platinum single like “1-800-273-8255”?
Logic's fanbase is immeasurable; both legends and peers alike have sung his praises; his Young Sinatra mixtape series has the fanfare to live on as his eternal, underground imprint. Short of delivering a classic album, Logic has checked off almost every box.
Following 2018's well-received YSIV, the prominent Def Jam storyteller returns with his fifth album, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. The album is his second release in 2019, a rapid follow-up to Supermarket, an experimental soundtrack that accompanied Logic’s New York Times number one best-selling novel of the same title.
Flooding the market is a new tactic for the famous storyteller, one that begs to question what else does Logic have left to say?
In usual 1-Listen album review fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"
Slow, soulful build up. It’s pleasant. I could use a version without the drums; I like them, but I wish he would’ve confessed to the keys. Logic always has enjoyable arrangements. Out the gate, this is a good tempo for his flow, and honest, confessional lyricism. “What would you do if your dreams suddenly came true?” I see potential in Logic being frank about wrestling with achieving his dreams, even if I don’t like the title very much. The self-reflection on fame isn’t gripping my attention. It’s lacking punch. I don’t know how it feels to walk in his shoes, I need Logic to walk me through those rich soles of his. A bit long, not as striking as it should be, but the subject matter is good. Logic has to learn to emote. I need to feel it, not just hear it.
2. "Homicide" ft. Eminem
This is like the heavyweight bout between two rappity rap titans. Logic charges out the gate rapping at a Tasmanian Devil tempo. Words are being spewed like they’re shot from a semi-automatic Nerf gun. The Slim Shady homage is a nice touch. This is the hip-hop version of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Eminem tagged in with a strong uppercut. Solid verse thus far. I can imagine this song coming out in the middle between Em’s Relapse and Recovery albums. I’m getting whiplash. If Drake raps are Instagram comments, Logic and Eminem raps are subreddits. This one doesn't do much for me, but it’s fanservice for two massive fanbases.
Bassline with an attitude; vicious. Another song referencing fame. Logic said fame weighs a gram; I don’t know how he came up with that number. Lyrically, this was left off J. Cole’s KOD. Thematically, and even stylistically, he's touching on time from a birdseye view. But I just don’t hear what Logic wants me to engage with? He’s very self-aware, but the song themes sit on the thin line between parody and honest critique.
This album is shaping up to mirror how Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. and J. Cole's KOD touched on society from the famous rapper perspective using modern, trap palettes as the sound bed. I’m not certain, but the album feels like satire. Logic just mentioned Lil Peep. And Charlemagne. Wait, what did he say? See, this is what I mean. Logic is too sharp to reach so often. "clickbait" is an uplifting song that gets hung up on the very themes he's attempting to criticize. I can’t tell if he’s intentionally fumbling or isn’t aware just how slippery these slopes are.
5. "Mama/Show Love" ft. YBN Cordae
I’m not exactly sure about the chanting, but I like these keys. The drums just dropped and this one is a cyberpunk trap record. Logic is surprisingly comfortable in this bizarre jungle of sounds. So is Cordae. I wouldn’t mind hearing him over more of this shade of trap banger. What did he say about depression? I wonder who Logic imagines when he’s spreading his timely advice about modern life? Beat switch. I could’ve lived my entire life without that “bad bitch” line. Nice homage to Drake, Gambino, etc. If nothing else, Logic uplifts his peers and heroes. He gives flowers and I'll always respect that.
6. "Out of Sight"
There aren't any apparent flaws in the album thus far—the songs are short, the beats have a nice thump, and his lyrics are timely. But they also aren't very memorable. Even though I have a better idea of what Logic is trying to say, I’m not exactly sure how much of it is actually carrying any weight. “Out of Sight” has a bouncy groove and he’s pulling off a nice Randy Moss run with the flow. There is so much of J. Cole’s influence in Logic’s approach. They both share this very thoughtful, yet loose style of lyricism. Everyman rappers can be sharp as knives but it’s easy to fall into the dirt.
7. "Pardon My Ego"
I love the sample loop! The bounce and Logic’s flow are the best pairing I’ve heard on the album thus far. Have GoldLink and Logic done a record yet? Those two would sound great over a swinging Kaytranda beat. Okay, I don’t know what the hell the Kanye line was about. It’s one thing to play with fire, but that line was lighting a match with gasoline coated hands. Again, Logic is too smart of a rapper to come across as...ignorant. Love the production, but I won’t be returning.
8. "COMMANDO" ft. G-Eazy
Is this Logic’s strip club anthem? And he called G-Eazy to guarantee Magic City dancers will lose their mind. Did he just call himself rap’s Justin Bieber? I’m almost certain this is a concept album that’s a parody of contemporary rap albums like Ab-Soul’s These Days. G-Eazy has arrived. Solid performance, I guess. He references praise from E-40, that’s a cultural stamp. Eh, another one that didn’t stir anything in my soul. Listening to "COMMANDO" is like eating ramen noodles—full of flavor, no nutrition. I’m binging on off-brand junk food. It's still sugar...
9. "Icy" ft. Gucci Mane
Logic is enjoying life, I think. I'm hearing the opposite issue ScHoolboy Q laid out on CrasH Talk. It sounds like Logic is enjoying the fruits of his labors, but I’m not necessarily enjoying this newfound prosperity in music form. Gucci! “Coming live from the hood like a news reporter.” I like the life that Gucci is bringing to the record. When it comes to flows, the East Atlanta Santa remains inventive. He shows up for features. This second Logic verse isn’t what this song needed. Production has a homegrown, southern touch that’s worth hearing once.
10. "Still Ballin'" ft. Wiz Khalifa
Another trap banger. Music fitting a Mortal Kombat commercial. Logic’s confidence has risen with his bank account, I just wish he would channel this energy into saying something substantial. Every song has reiterated similar points over a different trap pattern. Wiz has one foot outside the Wraith. Rich rappers collaborate and talk about how rich they are to make themselves richer. There’s nothing new under the sun. I need them to find something new.
The song about drugs. I do like his vocal inflection, kinda. Logic sounds like he’s in Baby Keem hive. That has to be the third Donald Glover reference. I need a Logic cameo in the next season of FX’s Atlanta. Every time I hear the name Molly, I miss Trinidad James. What the hell is Logic talking about? Does he feel like he has to glorify drugs to sell albums? But he never had to… I'm getting serious Eminem Kamikaze vibes. “Cocaine” is a state of the culture PBS special.
Melodic Logic. This is a nice change of pace. What is Logic’s identity? Hearing him mention a Rollie doesn’t seem on-brand? Maybe this album is meant to rebrand how people see Logic? Musically, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind sounds like his most contemporary-inspired body of work. But there’s a lack of soul. The neverending self-reflection is like a collection of photos that are all slightly out of focus. What is it that Logic wants me to see? Wants me to hear? I’m not grasping the purpose.
13. "Keanu Reeves"
Another confident banger that could use more bang. “I didn’t mean to floss but I got plaques.” I do like some of these vignettes about his life, but most of them are attached to a flat or silly reference. He's in a perfect pocket on this second verse. Logic just compared himself to mean girls in high school. “Follow your dreams hoe” lol, I think I’ve received everything this album has to offer.
14. "Don't Be Afraid to Be Different" ft. Will Smith
The first Will Smith feature of 2019! I’m pretty interested. Eh, this hook just doesn’t entice. Wow, Will came in rapping the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme songs. I’ll admit, I would listen to an album about Will Smith’s life in 2019. The charisma is still there. I don’t understand the production decision for this song. It’s a dance tempo, cut the rug music, but nothing about this is crafted for the club. Something chart-topping was left on the cutting room floor. I love the message—it’s an important sentiment—but how are we supposed to catch a groove to this?
15. "BOBBY" ft. My Dad
Whoever produced "BOBBY" chopped the sample like a blacksmith crafting a pristine blade. [Editor's Note: That would be 6IX.] I wouldn’t mind if this energy was consistent through the album. Why is Logic talking about slavery? Man, this man is astounding. The bi-racial bars just hit different after they've been a meme.
16. "Lost in Translation"
Serene strings to close out the album. I’m looking forward to a strong ending. “Colored people time, but nigga we still arriving.” He redeemed himself with the Andre Benjamin bar. That might be the third or fourth reference to being the greatest rapper alive. It’s such a commonplace brag now, I wonder do rappers really believe it? Are you the best or does it sound good to say? Oh, thank god, some boom and bap. The dusty drum loop is summoning the best out of Logic. By far a highlight performance. “I’m an original screenplay in a world of remakes.” Where was this energy throughout the album!? I’m not exactly sure what language this woman is speaking. Japanese? Uncertain. Slide a nice motherfucker in English. I respect it.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind:
Listening to Logic’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind provides a puzzling sensation. I’m not certain what purpose the album serves beyond making lofty, banal statements about how making music afforded Logic a wealthy lifestyle.
Instead of channeling his sugar rush energy and excitement, Logic runs rampant without directing the listener. I’m not sure if he was truly aiming to inspire, mock, criticize, or a combination of the three. He doesn't commit to any one subject for long enough to make a substantial statement. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is mostly rapping for the sake of rap.
The version of Logic who I enjoy the most—the earnest, passionate hip-hop enthusiast—only appears in tiny spurts. Instead, listeners get a heavy dose of the Logic who made it; the accomplished rap star who doesn’t have much more to offer than fortune-cookie encouragement and social media-inspired rants.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is what it sounds like when success turns you into a caricature of yourself.