Review Summary: Plagiarism aside, Under Pressure is a versatile record that largely overcomes its inconsistencies.Under Pressure
's opening piece of drivel, 'Intro', misleads on many levels. It's obnoxious, tacky, lyrically abysmal ("Looking for the sun in a world of grey/ Feeling like my dream is a world away") and less grandiose than it thinks. Although traces of this carelessness certainly permeate on later tracks on the album, Logic ultimately delivers something far more promising than his intro might suggest.
Narratively speaking Under Pressure
is something of a wonder, not out of any immediate ingenuity or depth, but out of relatability. In spite of overarching themes of grandeur and ambition - often in excess - Logic sustains himself as an incredibly likeable personality throughout the LP, provided you can forgive his deeply apparent 'influences'. In-keeping with the more contemplative elements of other new-school rappers (particularly Lamar), Logic is continually grounded in a sense of awe at his new successes. There is rarely a moment of immortality or arrogance, and throughout the album every track is all the more poignant for it. Logic rarely traverses obscure territory, and when he chooses to do so there's typically enough atmospheric production to immerse us along. The opening to 'Growing Pains III' is perhaps the greatest demonstrator of this, introducing us to a murky conflict with an appropriately wavering and unsteady instrumentation. Logic's only significant misstep in narration takes the form of 'Nikki', a half-assed metaphor for his addiction to smoking whose true identity is only 'revealed' toward the end of the album. Were we supposed to reel in shock at this"
We're quickly introduced to 'Thalia', a robotic persona who guides us through the album with snippets of information. Aside from her transition in 'Soul Food' ("Hip Hop...") her function is questionable at best and invasive at its worse, randomly exposing influences like Tarantino and outright ignoring his main influence - Kendrick - who seems to have entirely determined Logic's flow throughout the tracks. The remainder of Soul Food is lyrically fantastic however, with a strong hook ("Lyricism seeping, I'm like venom/ Yes, I know the flow hotter than Lucifer/ Even though heaven sent him") that expresses Logic's inventive use of Christian themes, a refreshing change from the usual "I praise God".
This, alongside 'Under Pressure', 'Growing Pains III' and 'Buried Alive' form the greatest content on the album, with the title track coming through as a particular highlight. Self-produced, 'Under Pressure' is a 9 minute marvel of a track that largely mimics what Kendrick accomplishes in 'Sing About Me', switching perspective artfully betwixt crackled interludes with earthy dialogue. Everything from the smart and oft-quoted hook (“every diamond in my chain, yeah, that’s a milestone”) to the touching finale just works
on so many levels.
It’s a shame, then, that this level of technical skill doesn’t quite hold up on the remainder of the album. There are intermittent inconsistencies and drifts into tackiness both in and out of production that are simply dissatisfying (“RattPack, know the deal/ What’s the motto" Keep it real!”). The greatest oddity, however, lies in ‘Metropolis’, a track that effectively sums up what Logic’s debut represents. Phonically appealing on first listen, ‘Metropolis’ is fast, positive, and carefree, reminiscing on some of Logic’s more happy memories of his new-found success. The problem here lies in balance. The cautious line that Logic successfully traverses in the title track between confidence and humility is thrown overboard in ‘Metropolis’, with competent lyricism being soiled by obnoxious references to globe-trotting, waffles, and a ridiculously vacuous conversation about Tarantino. In a confused ocean of inspiration, both explicit and implicit, Logic desperately wants to express this subdued pride, the “look at me” that resonates throughout the entire LP. Logic begs for contention in this sense – how are we supposed to nod our head at his successes when they seem so deeply predicated on the talent of others" In a vacuum it’s easy to laud Under Pressure
with praise, but the endless, coterminous journey alongside his influences make it hard to praise Logic as an innovator.