Part of Logic’s approach relies on his disclosure around mental health challenges, frequently communicating stories about being not approved in the world, and particularly in hip-hop. He is a mixed-race man, self-proclaimed comic geek who could fix a Rubik’s Cube while freestyling, a boom-bap-loving twentysomething competing for significance in the era of pluggin and catcher. Obviously, their product of sincere, wife-guy rap has its fans and critics. James Budden titled him “one of the worst rappers to ever grace a mic”; Ellen DeGeneres called him “the voice of his generation.” In 2020, Logic took early retirement from rap to delete himself “from a bunch of negativity” and to focus on being a son.
He declared his exchange in the most logical way possible: By mirroring Michael Jordan’s stance “I’m home” press release. Like his music, the announcement was derivative and took itself too seriously. (He never really left, either -; on his 11-month absence, he released his music under an alias, Doc D, and streamed regularly on Twitch.) His first post-retirement project, the 2021 mixtape Bobby Tarantino III, leans into some of his most compelling qualities: deriding modern rap trends while simultaneously imitating them; Hyping up his wife’s heat; promoting mental health awareness by the directness of a PSA announcement. He has released 15 projects in 12 years, wrote a novel, retired, unretired, now he’s ready to show us something new. What would a good Logic project sound like today??
His seventh studio album, Vinyl Days, it is his strongest project in years. The beats here are The best Logic ever rapped on — most of The production is handled by longtime producer 6ix and Logic himself — and his rapping is as technically electrifying as ever. Logic can rap, and rap well, He showcases this skill ad nausea on Vinyl Days, which is 30 tracks long. Absent are the forays into ska-rock and Trippie Redd trap; present are the odes to Madlib, J. Dilla, DJ Premier. Just look at the invitations!: Action Bronson, RZA, Current prices, Royce Da 5 ‘9 , AZ. Vinyl Days is a YouTube playlist of Funkmaster Flex freestyles, dudes gripping the mic and flaunting an elite arsenal of bars. It’s impressive and tiring, but it nonetheless highlights the reason why Logic’s so famous in the first place: He’s a really good rapper, and, consequently, has earned the respect of some other really good rappers.
Similar to previous projects, Logic is at its most dynamic when he doesn’t tell us about his rap talent or the state of his crypto portfolio and instead just spits on bars. His verse on the Action, Bronson-assisted “In My life time” is all slick wordplay and exuberant punchlines, while; “Rogue One” boasts a high-energy double-time flow over the same sample as Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Your Neck.” One of the album’s more memorable moments comes on the Beastie Boys-sampling “Bleed It” where Logic offers imaginative, image-laden verses with a sense of urgency. Another driver of urgency is Flex himself, who serves as the Vinyl Days omnipresent host, a larger-than-life hype man affirming Logic’s place in the contemporary rap pantheon.
But the choice to hire Flex to host Vinyl Days feels a little cheap given that Tyler has to give it credit, the Creator just deployed this conceit to perfection with DJ Drama in last year’s chart-topping, Grammy-winning Call Me If You Get Lost. Unlike Tyler and Drama’s comedic, experimental, and thematically resonant love letter to hip-hop’s mixtape era, Flex’s presence on Vinyl Days felt less considered. His main purpose is to explosively reiterate whatever Logic says in His verses: He retired but never left!; he is one of the hardest rappers out!; real hip-hop is back, baby!! It’s hard to hate — who doesn’t get an adrenaline jolt from a Flex bomb? — but the playfulness required to pull off a gimmick like this is mostly absent.
It’s not just Flex’s hosting that interferes with otherwise pleasurable listen. It’s nearly impossible to experience Logic’s song without being overwhelmed with what conceptual model he’s adapted to provide music. Each can easily feel the measurement awards for Dilla and Madlib; Logic repeatedly tells everyone that he admires these folks, stands, is a successor to their bloodline. In the introduction to “Ten Years” we discover that Logic defeat GZA in a chess match. Have you listened that he noted this music with a mic once used by JAY-Z? What about the 10-minute delay, where he personally thank you to all the folks he collaborated with at Def Jam? Or how, as he informs us along the way “Introducing Nezi” he “found a strong Black woman from the land of Nigeria… Helping other musicians is my criteria”? It’s not something that Nezi Momodu finds great on its own; Logic desires his blossoms for placing her on the right.
On a history apparently involved with letting loose and coming back to one’s heritage, Logic has seemed fixed on resolving the reasons for his superannuation. On “Black White Boy” He explains how the up-and-down nature of the industry screwed with his spirit; on “LaDonda” he remembers a dream of killing YouTube musicologist Anthony Fantano over a bad analysis. Although obviously nevertheless grappling with all of these fears, Logic tries to guarantee us whether he’s shifted on. Despite the good things going for it, Vinyl Days is constrained with cynicism and anxiety. Logic wants to be granted his honor and can’t for the lifetime of him know why it’s being refused. Sure he tries harder than most to make us believe in his knowledge, to force us to see him the way he observes himself.