Logic preaches positivity
If Kanye West is Yeezus and Kendrick Lamar is hip-hop’s most prominent prophet, rapper Logic is an evangelical apostle preaching messages of positivity to a new-generation congregation. He was converted after experiencing RZA’s score to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1, channeled his naturally upbeat personality into a technically dazzling lyrical delivery, and commenced building his own hip-hop universe in which Neil deGrasse Tyson plays God and legions of fans literally thank him for saving their lives. He’s a nerdy, hip-hop Tony Robbins at a phase in his career when ambitions are high and possibilities seem limitless.
Logic was born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II to an African-American father and Caucasian mother in Gaithersburg, Md., an ethnically and economically diverse city adjacent to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Young Logic’s family occupied the lower rungs of Gaithersburg’s social class ladder and was beset by drug addiction, dysfunction and racial harassment. Identity and overcoming adversity would be major subject matter for later lyrical material, but Logic honed a natural knack for thinking fast and rapping faster into a speed-of-sound style. He quickly advanced through the ranks of DMV-area (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) rappers, debuting as “Psychological” before he shortened the name by three syllables.
He adapted Frank Sinatra as an aspirational totem, addressing himself as Young Sinatra at times and dubbing his circle of collaborators and colleagues “The Rattpack.” Logic developed a nonstop stage presence, pacing like an espresso-fueled panther and releasing torrents of verse while making direct connections with his fans. He found he could demonstrate his extra-normal hyper-attentive abilities by solving a Rubik’s Cube while performing, and explained his reasoning for considering himself hip-hop’s greatest living rapper “at the mic” in “Wizard of Oz”: “I think I’m the best rapper alive/ ‘Cause they tell me I’m the best rapper alive.”
That song is from his latest long-form release Bobby Tarantino II, which debuted at No. 1 in March. The sequel to his 2016 mixtape Bobby Tarantino was released with two days’ notice, and features Logic emphasizing the time-honored rap tradition of braggadocio. Both recordings contrast with 2017’s Everybody, a sci-fi concept album that contained singles for the title cut, “Black Spiderman,” and the song that cemented his superstardom, “1-800-273-8255.” Taking its title from the phone digits for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Logic created an anti-suicide jam that struck a chord with fans who already looked up to him for his positive attitude and relatability.
He also got iconic astrophysicist Tyson to lend his voice to the album as God for between-track skits, indicating the reach of influence he’s achieved in a decade-long career. He has his detractors who deride his uplifting banter as corny, but they are not who Logic speaks to. Logic’s positivity messages led to fan worship on a messianic scale, and the intensity of their faith is dramatically illustrated in the initial episode of Netflix documentary series Rapture. He can bring them to tears, but he knows those tears come from a place of happiness where his music provides the score.
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