HITS DAILY DOUBLE: LOGIC - RAPPING FROM THE HEART
LOGIC: RAPPING FROM THE HEART
In this writer’s opinion, Logic released one of the timeliest and most necessary albums of the year in Everybody, which dropped in May and was executive produced by industry heavyweight No I.D., who was influential in signing the artist to Def Jam a few years back. During a period of social and political turmoil, Logic has managed to break through with a promotion of positivity. Single “1-800-273-8255” (the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) has become an anthem for hope. The song, which features red-hot newcomers Alessia Cara and Khalid and is already two-times platinum, went Top 3 at Rhythm radio last month and is currently Top 3 and growing at Pop. When he answered a call from HITS, though, we assume he regretted not sending us to voicemail.
People freaked out when they heard Eminem freestyle a few weeks ago—and rightfully so—but I’m over here like, “HELLO, did you guys hear ‘America’ or even ‘Killing Spree?’ That said, you haven’t really gotten political with your music before.
Damn. I really appreciate that. And no, never actually. Not once in my life.
What inspired that decision?
I think it was just a lot of things. Obviously, the state of our country, what’s going on and what’s being ignored. Then when it comes to me personally, the things I’ve gone through with race and discrimination.
How did you manage to take all these feelings about race, hate, mental health and self-love in the digital age and churn it out into such a concise set of songs?
Deep down in my heart and in my mind, these are things I always wanted to talk about. Before this, I was just so scared. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or what kind of backlash there would be, so I never fully did. I just got to a point in my life where I was like, “Yo, I’m 27 years old. I can’t be scared.” I have to live my life. I have to say these things that have been weighing on me. There’s so much that really goes into this album. Beyond myself and politics. What I really wanted to do was just give, just speak for anybody who felt like me. I wasn’t sure if a lot of people would. Turns out they did. The release of the album, and the response, have shown me what I want to do and who I want to be. I want to be a voice. But, you know, I also don’t want to be this super serious guy all the time. I want to have fun, and I will put out records to have a good time to. But this let me know that I have power, a lot of power. I’m not going to waste that and I’m going to use my position for good.
As a biracial but fair-skinned millennial do you struggle with having your authenticity questioned or dismissed?
I was raised in a black family and got no backlash from my neighbors, my peers, the people that I grew up with; there was no real problem with that, as far as being accepted. Even when I first stepped into hip-hop—because hip-hop is beautiful. Hip-hop is amazing, it’s accepting, it was built upon peoples’ highs, lows, triumphs and success stories. When I was more of an underground artist, I’d sit down with these incredible tastemakers like Nick Huff or Sway, and there was never an issue. They’d be like, “Okay, cool, you’re black and white. Alright, brother, that’s what’s up. Now tell us about your music, because that’s the fucking thing that matters the most. Tell us about your message.”
But as I gained popularity and became more of a familiar name in hip-hop, everybody wanted to question. They want to pin everybody against each other. “So-and-so said this about you.” “What do you think about this?” “You think so-and-so’s the best?! Don’t you want to be the best?!” There’s a whole negative connotation that comes with that. Some people look at rap and look at someone who should be their brother, and they’ll be like, “Nah, fuck them! Yo, I’ma be better than them! And I’ma get all the looks and all that,” but what they’re really saying is, “Fuck that person, fuck his daughter and his wife. I’m going to take food off their table and be the greatest.” Yes, I do want to be “the greatest,” but not at the expense of someone else. Once I kind of realized that was the game I was in as far as commercial rap goes, I knew I didn’t want to be a part of that. I wasn’t accepted, and for so long I wanted to be accepted by that crowd and by those people, because it’s all I’d ever known. I had to come to the realization that I’m not that, I’ll never fit into that because I’m not a negative person, and at the end of the day, I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not.
Everybody is a concept album. Can you briefly explain the story and its genesis for those who don’t already know?
The album is about his guy, Atom. He’s walking home from work and gets hit by a car. He dies, wakes up in a white void, talking to a man who he soon finds out is God. God in turn tells him that he’s dead and he’s about to be reincarnated, but then he finds out not only is he about to be reincarnated, but that he’s already been reincarnated so many times before that’s he’s been every human being that’s ever already existed. And it’s not until he’s lived in the shoes of every man, woman, child—regardless of race, religion, color, creed and sexual orientation—that he can truly know what it is to live and to love life and to be taken into the next plane of existence. I’m not rapping about myself. I only rap from my own perspective on a few songs. On each song, I’m rapping from the perspective of one of the lives Atom has lived in the twenty-first century, whether that’s a gay man coming to terms with himself and his family or a single black mother with three kids working two jobs trying to get an education. It’s about everyday people going through struggles.
“1-800” is having a real moment and a powerful one at that.
I never thought it was going to be what it’s become, not even in the slightest. Just because of the subject matter, because of what it’s about. But I think two things happened. One: I’d like to think it’s a pretty good song with a decent melody and people can sing along to it. Two: I really do believe it’s a message people just couldn’t ignore and one that people really needed to talk about. Because of that, people are talking about it and I think they’re really finding something in it—not necessarily about suicide, about just not giving up in general. I think that’s why it’s done as good as it has.
The collaborations on this album are pretty incredible, not because of the star power or draw necessarily, but because they really fit their respective songs really well. How seriously did you take the process of finding the human matches for your songs?
I took it very seriously. I don’t believe in just throwing somebody on a track. I think it was about getting Chuck D from PublicEnemy or getting No I.D. to rap for the first time in 20 years, really getting those people who I thought could help me paint the picture, because I needed whoever was on the record to be selfless. This wasn’t about braggadocio. This was about a real message with real people. I needed the artists I was working with to put themselves aside and make it about the person we were speaking for on the record. And I think everybody involved really did do that.
How’d you get No I.D. on the record?
Honestly, I was just in the studio and I was like, “Yo, I dare you to rap on this. I know you won’t do it.” And he was like, “Oh, I’ll do it!” And he literally just wrote the craziest bars. It was really, really special.
Particularly given the aforementioned timeliness of this project, what would being recognized by the Grammys mean to you?
If I was recognized by the Grammys for this, it would just mean so much to me. I used to think I needed a hit record, not even like this, but like the “club song” or the “anthem,” to be recognized in pop or music in general. Sometimes you can just feel lost, because you see so many other people in a position that you’d like to be in. To know that, for lack of better phrasing, I said “Fuck it, fuck any accolades, I’m just going to make an album from my heart and for the people”; the fact this is the thing that could possibly be recognized and known… I just couldn’t be happier.