In his sophomore album, The Incredible True Story, rapper Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, better known as Logic (aka Young Sinatra), strives to prove that he can be a consistently relevant and impressive player in the hip-hop scene.
After well-received debut album Under Pressure outlined his poverty-stricken origins in Gaithersburg, MD, the 2014 Def Jam signee was widely recognized in hip-hop spheres as a talented lyricist who warranted follow up attention.
Follow up albums, however, are the bigger test. After a debut he or she has been waiting years to release, the artist needs to produce an album with a completely different message and feel, thereby proving he or she has musical depth beyond that of a debut effort. Logic’s answer to this popular challenge? Outer space.
The concept album features a sci-fi plot that takes place on a spaceship 100 years in the future, and skits featuring the characters William Kai and Quentin Thomas divide the track list. In this universe, the Earth has been destroyed, and the duo is searching for a planet called Paradise. Thus the new album is less of an origin story and more of a wild, exploratory ride.
In terms of lyricism and rap mechanics, Logic doesn’t disappoint for the second time in a row. Atmospheric ambience backing to tracks like “Fade Away,” “Upgrade” and “City of Stars” are sliced through by an articulate double time flow that demonstrates his extensive lyrical capability as well as a verbal flexibility that allows him to modify for any cadence. He has a particular understanding of his own flow that is further showcased in the harder hitting beats of “Like Whoa” and “Young Jesus.”
After the autobiographical message of Under Pressure, he can now move beyond explaining his credentials to new listeners, and for Logic, The Incredible True Story largely serves as a metaphor for his fans:
“It’s like they won’t accept me, this Earth is f--ked up, so I’m gonna create my own planet, and people who are like-minded can come here. If you don’t like me, you can still come to this planet and tell me why you don’t like me as long as you don’t discredit me.”
Logic’s personal evolution under newfound fame serves as a secondary recurring theme, particularly the way in which he addresses race. As the child of biracial parents, Logic's rise to stardom forced him to address this struggle. On "City of Stars, " he raps, "I didn’t talk about my race on the whole first album / but black versus white bullshit was still the outcome."
The album is not without its critics, however. In fact, many have made the dire accusation that Logic is a “biter:" someone who copies other rappers in a plagiaristic sense. In "I Am the Greatest," a whiff of Drake is certainly detectable in the melody and the grating way in which he replaces verse with shouted bragging. The use of taiko drums used in the beginning of the intro track “Contact” is also similar to those used in the intro to Kanye West’s 2008 track, “Amazing.”
Recycled elements are common at this developed stage of hip-hop, but it is important for rising artists to recognize the line between respect for others and imitation. The Maryland rapper, though, has other thoughts:
“I’ve been so inspired by others from Kendrick to Drake to Cole to Kanye to everybody in a great way…If you say that reminds [you] of that, I did my job because this person is so incredible and I could stir up a similar feeling.”
The Incredible True Story unquestionably serves to further his upward trend as a new artist, and while the final product has many outside influences, Logic yet again demonstrates a love-able, purist approach to hip-hop that begins and ends with producing great rap: “I won't be defined by the sales of my first week / in my mind, only way I fail is if my verse weak.”