Does Logic's space journey rocket him to rap's stratosphere?
Twenty-five-year-old Logic, the author of four buzzworthy mixtapes and, now, with the release of The Incredible True Story and the Transformation of the Man Who Saved the World, two studio LPs, is clearly equipped with immense talent. His first studio effort, Under Pressure, was good enough to put Logic himself under pressure. Yes, there were some enjoyable tracks on Under Pressure (“Bounce” and the eponymous track come to mind), but it didn’t do for Logic what his rap ability might indicate. Too often, the heavy-handed infleunce rappers on the other side of that glass ceiling Logic was attempting to break through haunted his effort, collaring his ability to transcend himself. This has become one of Logic's mainstay criticisms. He was like the Clippers of Hip Hop. The cred is there, the roster is stacked, but why can’t they get past the second round? And if they can’t, why would I rank them among proven squads like Golden State or the Cavs or the Spurs?
The Incredible True Story isn’t necessarily more of the same story, but it is certainly victim to similar pitfalls. And it’s a shame. I want to love The Incredible True Story. I want to let it be what Man on the Moon was initially for Kid Cudi. I wanted the best parts of The Incredible True Story to be all that was remembered after the dust settled and the little-bit-over-an-hour concept album subsided: the immersive space odyssey, the slick production (mostly done by just 6ix and Logic), bars like “Finger fuck a critic, this shit is darker than the Chronicles of Riddick.” But, no, not even that line was enough to make this critic wary of having serious problems with this album. Because instead of a steady showcase of the rapper that Logic can be-- not his trajectory, but his actual full form-- The Incredible becomes just another 'pretty enjoyable,' listenable Logic album.
It’s all made even more frustrating because these songs sound good. “Like Whoa” is super fun, but it also manages to overstuff itself by employing both what has undoubtedly become a Drake catch phrase for its hook, and flows very reminiscent to Kendrick Lamar. No paragraph can do justice to the frustration brought on by "I Am The Greatest," which appears to be a Drake song in disguise. Despite the record's title, the result is a middling song with obvious 6 God influences.
All of these slip-ups take away from things that are truly noteworthy about this record, which does consist of tracks that should, when standing alone, be considered fire. “Young Jesus” is definitely the rightful lead single of the record. Logic isn’t lying when he beckons the '90s in the song’s intro. The beat bangs spookily like a Mobb Deep or Wu one would. Big Lenbo and Logic even pass the mic in the final verse. They both slay throughout. “Innermission” does serve as as an intermission of sorts. It’s a good palate cleanser of the vibal back and forth that was the album that came before it. It sees Logic speak on his past, present and future and -- if you are the type of hip hop fan that has the patience for self-serious tracks-- is probably one of the best songs on The Incredible True Story.
Tracks like those, along with the narrative story that’s taking place on The Incredible True Story about Quentin Thomas and William Kai’s fictional journey along the Aquarius 3, en route to a planet dubbed Paradise (which bring validity to skits on rap albums in a way that we haven’t seen much of lately) prove that Logic’s good side is getting greater.
However even with these highlights, there are lowlights. It's hard to listen to some of what Logic does with songs like “Run It” (screaming “suitcase” unmistakably identical to Lamar), and accept them as allusions and not just laziness. It's tricky territory to wander as well, simply because, by anyone's measure, Logic is not a bad artist. The album, equally so, is enjoyable. However one cannot help but notice a referential flow, someone else's cadence, leaving you wanting more.
Yeah, Logic’s got skills. Tons. Nas digs him. Heck, the review may not be an indication, but I do, too. It's just that we already knew he could make an album like this. Until he breaks out of his shell, made nice and sturdy by the rappers that evidently inspire him, he can never get to Paradise.