Logic Talks Race and His Dense, Intense, 70-Minute Rap Opus 'Everybody'

Logic Talks Race and His Dense, Intense, 70-Minute Rap Opus 'Everybody'

"I didn't wanna make this album. I was scared to make this album, period."


Over the phone from Southern California, Logic, the 27-year-old MC who's released two Gold albums for Def Jam without a radio hit to speak of, reads a list of topics discussed on his third, Everybody: "mental health, domestic violence, mass shootings, drug abuse, racism, indigenous peoples, anxiety, depression, suicide, happiness, money, education, upper and middle and lower class, fear, hate, acceptance, fame, religion, childhood, individuality, peace, love and positivity."


Naturally, the album is a hefty, dense, immersive listening experience, a 70-minute concept opus told through different characters, featuring famous assists (Killer Mike, Alessia Cara, Black Thought, Chuck D, an unbilled appearance by J. Cole) and tied together with a surreal skits starring famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson playing the role of God.

Logic, born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, is an unusual major label rap star by any standard. Raised in poverty in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Logic is a proudly nerdy biracial kid whose signature stage flourish is solving a Rubik's Cube while rapping. His first two albums, 2014's Under Pressure and 2015's The Incredible True Story, each went Gold. Everybody, released on Friday, is likely to become his first Number One.

Rolling Stone talked to Logic about his heady album and his unlikely rise.

Did you go into Everybody with a concept or did it happen organically?
It just happened as I went. I didn't go into the album and say, This is what I was going to do with, for example, my own race. I didn't wanna make this album. I was scared to make this album, period. I looked at where we are in the world and realized that millions of people listen to my voice, and I do have a voice. When I released the first song which discusses my race ["Everybody"], a lot of people were like "Oh, he's pushing the whole biracial thing, he's pushing the whole biracial thing." Nobody would tell Q-Tip or Mos Def or Black Thought that they're pushing the whole black thing. This is who I am. And the crazy thing is in my entire professional career, on my albums, I have never touched that, and I've been scared to. So honestly, I had written the script for the album, and I knew I wanted it to be from other people's perspectives. But how could I write about other people's fears if I didn't have the courage to first address my own?

So you scripted the dialogue for the interludes before you made the songs?
Yeah. I did have "Everybody" first, and I also did have "Hallelujah." But at the time those ... weren't even the full songs. It wasn't until I realized I was gonna move forward with the script, and then especially once I was able to get Neil deGrasse Tyson to voice God, I knew how impactful it would be. That's when I began to write the script. And as I wrote the script, that's when I truly found inspiration for what I wanted the subject matter of all the songs to be.

Religion is one of the main themes on the album. Some of it's overtly Biblical, some of it is irreverent like the Neil deGrasse Tyson guest spot. Did the gospel elements on the album come from any kind of personal church background or was it more of a musical choice?
I think for me, that was just sonics. Gospel music's beautiful music, y'know, choirs and soul and all that. And that's a part of my childhood, a hundred percent, but it didn't come from that place. "Confess" is rapped from the perspective of a man who's broken into a church at night. So that's why it has that Chicago house four-on-the-floor gospel vibe with it, to drive the concept sonically as well. I guess the best way I'd refer to it is as a sci-fi take on religion. It's not about religion, it's not about race. It's about people, it's about humanity and society.

I remember, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement – not that it's dwindled any, it's still a very serious thing – but there were people on Twitter who were like, "Why aren't you hashtagging Black Lives Matter, what are you not black or something, you're not black enough?" They're makin' me feel like shit, and I'm the kind of person who's like, "No, I'm just not gonna start tweeting about things I'm not necessarily educated on." And I don't mean Black Lives Matter, what I'm talking about are the deaths and shootings, there are so many shootings, I can't even keep up anymore. And when people were attacking me, I was like, y'know what? Fuck that! I'm not gonna tweet this shit, I'm gonna go make an album about it.

I just thought it was really funny, because for me, it's not about what I believe in. Am I religious? No. Do I believe in God or in energy? Yeah, sure, whatever, that's my personal belief, but I'm not here to push that on anybody else. That's why I got an atheist to play God, you know what I mean? If [deGrasse Tyson] doesn't believe in God, why would he play the role of God? Because it's not about religion, it's about helping others, and it's about just getting them to just open their mind, and that's it.

Via @RollingStone



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