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Album reviews
Artist:
Logic
Album:
No Pressure
Release year:
2020
Label:
Def Jam
31 July 2020 / by Demar Grant (author)

Movement: East Coast Hip hop, Conscious Rap

Lane: Eminem, old Kanye, Kendrick Lamar


Logic isn’t original and that’s okay. No Pressure is a sample laden project, but does that detract from how elegant the IGOR’s pianos are? How smooth OutKast’s 'Elevators' hook is? How haunting, yet cool its production is? How sticky Pimp C’s hook from ‘Knockin Doorz Down’ is? Does it make ‘SpottieOttieDopalicus’’s horns less triumphant? Does it make ‘Good Morning’’s drum kicks less iconic? Because that’s all here and more. On the one hand this is how hip hop works: you borrow, chop, screw, reverse, reduce, reuse and recycle. But when you can tell immediately where the sample is from, when the musical influences are so transparent, does that inherently make the songs worse? Less unoriginal, yes, but worse?

Unfortunately, Logic is a 2000s mixtape legend living in a 2010s mainstream artist’s body. All of Logic’s best works were his mixtapes (besides Under Pressure) where he freely borrowed lines and beats from contemporaries that were much more established than him. Making mixtapes in 2010 with established beats was excusable, dial the clock back another 10 years and it was the encouraged norm. Then in 2013 Logic signed with Def Jam and became one of the biggest stars in hip hop (maybe not in the culture but his numbers don’t lie). That meant he had to make original music and other than his debut album, Under Pressure, it’s been a rocky road. You spend your entire life making your debut album, but Logic didn’t really have the solo creativity to stretch a career.

 

Now with No Pressure he’s reverted to his original form. Instead of making a free mixtape with established beats, he’s loaded his commercial release with expensive samples. Logic borrows bars, beats and hooks indiscriminately from his contemporaries and it produces an elegant melange of soul, boom bap and southern rap. This strategy of production has all but vanished from today’s hip hop because - simply put - it costs too much. Kanye, Outkast and Erykah Badu samples don’t come cheap, Logic will only make a fraction from this release compared to his previous. It’s a shame because Logic drops his most mature bars on No Pressure, reflecting on his life before and after the birth of his son. He‘s come to a realization that “All I ever gave a fuck about was my career, But all that shit out the window now that my son is here” on “Open Mic\\Aquarius III”. Growth and reflection are central to No Pressure, making something Logic’s only been able to do in spurts on past projects is a now colourful fire hose.

He also offers up other gems like denouncing slacktivism by spitting “Evil politicians, people on Twitter bitchin', Hashtaggin', but in real life, they never pitch in” on 'Hit My Line' while still making pertinent observations around him. Consciousness has always been a part of Logic’s music since the start but this is the first time he’s ever looked at the people around him. Even then, he still doesn’t hold back with his criticism of “trigger happy police” on "GP4" and even opens up about his mental health on 'Dark Place' all while maintaining his typical ear for flows and rhymes.

 

It’s a shame to see Logic go, with No Pressure in many ways acting as the artistic evolution we’ve been waiting for from him. He went from constantly proving he can rap to actually rapping about weighty ideas backed up by beautiful production. Logic was a contemporary pastiche artist forced to make totally original creations and he floundered. When he finally came back to his original creative process he truly flourished. It's only too bad we’ll never get to see him push it further.

 

Rating: 8/10

HEAT: Hit My Line, GP4, Celebration, Open Mic\\Aquarius III, Soul Food II, Man i is, 5 Hooks, Dark Place, Amen, Obediently Yours

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The author

Demar Grant

I'm just trying to put you on. @DemarJGrant

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