02 December 2015

REVIEW: Logic - The Incredible True Story

Maryland native Logic helps solidify 2015 as one of the greatest years in Hip-hop. A year after his strong debut album Under Pressure, which earned 4.5 Mics from BITM, the artist also known as Young Sinatra refuses to allow his buzz to fade by offering his follow-up entitled The Incredible True Story. He presents this album as a futuristic tale where two people are in a spaceship searching for a habitable planet called Paradise, as humans have exhausted all of Earth's resources and are forced to find another planet that can sustain life. During the journey, the pilot and co-pilot are listening to oldies, which include Logic's first album. Toward the end of the intro, the pilot insists that he is about to listen to the second album, which leads into the first official song "Fade Away."

It's an odd choice as a concept for an album, and it almost feels like Logic's love for Sci-Fi ruined his sense of structure, as the concept is already imploding on itself by the end of the first track. The album is littered with skits here and there, fleshing out a story that never really ties in with the musical content itself. Even more convoluted is the fact that the stars of this screenplay, which is supposed to take place 100 years in the future, are actually listening to The Incredible True Story. Since these skits are a part of the album, this literally means that the characters in the story are listening to themselves...from 100 years in the past...right? (Cue Tim Allen grunt from Home Improvement).

It's a paradox I don't think even Logic considered, but it forced me to completely separate the Sci-Fi crap from the actual music because there is no cohesion between the two. The effort put into the concept of this album should have been redistributed toward something more impactful and relevant, instead of it coming across as an empty fan project. It's as if he included the story as his only means of differentiating this album from Under Pressure, because without the narrative, The Incredible True Story is essentially nothing more than Under Pressure II. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, though, as the problems with Young Sinatra's sophomore album are deeper than what is on the surface.

I'll preface this by saying Logic's production and lyricism have never been stronger. He slays nearly every track, and it is easy to want to fall in love with this album on your first playthrough, but an incisive ear will spot a major flaw in his music. So much love and care was placed into the concept, the production, and razor sharp bar for bar lyricism that not enough time was devoted to making the listener truly understand what Logic is about. The Incredible True Story is more of a marriage of styles borrowed from the greats he idolizes, as well as his contemporaries. This fact keeps the album from feeling as exciting as the production suggests it should be. It was forgiveable on Under Pressure, but Logic needs to understand that an impressive display of lyrics over a nice beat is no longer enough to set yourself apart in the current climate of Hip-hop. He has obviously mastered the art of crafting a project that sounds amazing to the casual listener, yet the styles he borrows from tend to cater more toward the hardcore audience.

That's not to say The Incredible True Story is a bad album by any stretch, it's actually a very good listen. It may even be better than Under Pressure, but a lot of that credit is owed to production. The major issue that existed with his first album continues to plague this one as well, and that's the fact that an artist's purpose and direction need to be clear, or at least exist in some form, if they expect everyone to appreciate their music on the highest level. It appears this album is nothing more than him spitting rapid fire bars that often tend to get swallowed up by cadences and content that lack originality, versatility and substance.

There are songs like "Run It" where he addresses those who he feels wrongfully tear down his music with simple lines like, "I been at it for the people who been lovin my shit / not the people that been hatin, they can suck my d*ck!" It's not so much that anyone is hating, because the bulk of this album is undeniable. Logic is simply held to a higher standard as an artist BECAUSE of his talent, so it's almost like he shouldn't be allowed to continue to take the safe route with his music. You see, The Incredible True Story sounds like it could be a masterpiece, but this is a surface level analysis. The reason his music must be dissected further is because his bold claims of greatness scattered throughout do not necessarily align with the product as a whole. He wants you to appreciate every punchline as well as the supposed storyline that moves the album along, but once you listen with an analytic ear you're almost left wondering...is that it? He is too gifted of an artist to remain in this comfortable pocket, and at some point will have to learn to raise the bar himself, instead of simply holding it up. Logic possesses all of the necessary tools and resources to be a trail blazer, yet he continues to play it safe.

Fortunately, much like Under Pressure, The Incredible True Story is meant to be enjoyed with minimal scrutiny. Since listenability is perhaps the most important factor, it's difficult to discredit this album even slightly. Logic appears to be working with an even larger budget on the production side this time around, and the entire project benefits from it. Substance may be scarce, but there are enough uplifting tracks like "Lord Willin'" and "Never Been" to help pad out the braggadocio. The Incredible True Story is good. It's actually really good. Unfortunately, until Logic grows into his own as an artist, it will be difficult to ever consider his music great, despite his immense talent.

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