Review Summary: The review this album deserves.
Debut albums in hip-hop are tricky, it isn’t often an artist first album brings the complete package. But a great debut album can cement a rapper’s legacy in hip-hop forever. Albums like “Ready To Die” by The Notorious B.I.G and “Illmatic” by Nas will forever be considered classics amongst fans of the genre. Even modern day debuts such as “Section.80” by Kendrick Lamar and “College Dropout” by Kanye West will go down as classics one day. So what kind of impact will Logic’s “Under Pressure” have on hip-hop?
On October 21st, 2014 Logic released his debut album “Under Pressure” through Def Jam Recordings. After four successful mixtapes Logic has built an impressive underground following that has led to great expectations for his debut album “Under Pressure.” So does “Under Pressure” stand as a modern day classic or does it fall short?
“Under Pressure” is no modern day classic, but in no way shape or form is a failure. The album itself is a great album, but several key flaws hold it back from hip-hop glory. “Under Pressure” tells the story of Logic. It is an album about Logic’s life struggles, from growing up in section 8 housing, to having two parents who were drug addicts, to gang activity to dealing with his nicotine addiction. Logic’s offering is refreshingly honest and heartfelt compared to many of his counter parts. Logic’s lyrics and flow are strong points on the album and remain strong from the first song to the last. Logic’s standout rapping is accompanied by good production. Standout songs “Soul Food”, “Gang Related” and “Under Pressure” feature Logic’s skill as an MC and great production. It is note worthy that the standard edition of the record has no features on it. Logic spits every verse in order to accurately depict his story throughout. Both Childish Gambino and Detroit’s own, Big Sean, have strong features on the album’s deluxe version through songs “Driving Ms Daisy” and “Alright”.
Despite many strong points the album suffers from several flaws that are hard to overlook. While “Under Pressure” is a great album, it borrows rather than innovates. “Under Pressure” features a robotic sounding female voice named “Thalia” that states facts about the record in between songs. “Thalia” is very reminiscint to the robotic voiced, female “tour guide” found on A Tribe Called Quest’s classic record “Midnight Marauders”. While “Thalia” provides good insight of the record it’s nearly impossible for hip-hop heads not to cry, “Foul!” Logic also borrows from Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” several times throughout the album. Logic’s song “Metropolis” and a brief part of “Under Pressure” feature the exact same beat as Kendrick’s “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst.” But the similarities don’t stop there, Logic’s “Never Enough” features an intro that is very similar to that of Kendrick’s “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” There’s even a point on “Under Pressure” that features Logic in the same dreamlike state that we find Kendrick Lamar in his song “Swimming Pools.” Even some of the layered vocals on “Under Pressure” are very similar to vocals found throughout Kendrick Lamar’s entire discography. While it would be a bit extreme to say that Logic “stole” from Kendrick it is nearly impossible to ignore the similarities.
Logic is a rapper who wears his influence on his sleeve and does so to a fault. But even with its major flaws Logic’s “Under Pressure” remains a great album. With great flow, strong lyrics, and good production Logic’s “Under Pressure” is one of the best hip-hop releases of 2014. It’s just a shame that Logic would rather borrow than create and this holds Logic back from a truly legendary debut album.