Review Summary: Consistency, in all the best and worst ways
Bobby 'Logic' Hall's first full length, Under Pressure
, was a simply realized, well-produced and all-around no-frills rap effort. It was the perfect pedestal for the young rapper to pedal his wares, because it offered nothing besides what fans had been clamouring for; the patented sprightly delivery and diverse selection of beats. The success of this release paved the way for his next LP, The Incredible True Story
, a sci-fi concept album that saw Hall stretching his legs into more focused territory. Despite being home to an interesting idea, a generous album length, and several memorable tracks, ambition ultimately worked against the project, and the final effect equated to less than the sum of its parts. Put simply, it was a half-baked concept album with some cool tracks. With the announcement of his third album, Everybody
, I had a little hope restored that Logic would backpeddle a touch and return to the simple mixtape vibe from his early releases that later spilled over onto Under Pressure
. The truth is, Logic’s output has always been a mixed bag. His lyricism has never been particularly groundbreaking or insightful, but his flows and ability to ride virtually any rhythm give him an aesthetically pleasing edge over many of his contemporaries. Even the original beats are catchy and well-produced, both when they are more traditional hip-hop fare, and when they are more stylistically unusual. Everybody
feels like a continuation of The Incredible True Story
in some respects; almost the other side of the same coin. It is just as ambitious, only this time, the theme is a lot closer to home and focuses on a very specific modern political issue. Admirable intentions they may be, but the album suffers because it has to make up for the fact that the theme could be quite easily covered on a single track, resulting in a release that is too overtly preachy and much too bloated. Do Logic’s rhymes compensate for these shortcomings? Eh.
Existing as an alternatively-themed rap release, the vast majority of Everybody
's runtime is concerned with matters of racial inequality, political corruption, everyday bigotry and the ideal of global peace. And Hall's mixed ethnicity, of course; he makes sure the listener is informed of his heritage at least once per track. Whether Hall bringing this to the fore to justify his use of certain phrases, or simply as a way of asserting Logic’s optimal positioning for an opinion on the subject, it certainly becomes a wearing lyrical leitmotif by the album’s conclusion- albeit perfect fare for a drinking game. From the very outset, the album starts as it means to continue, with opening track 'Hallelujah' opening with graceful strings and a trance-lite melody set amidst a Logic’s repeated vocalisation of the song’s title. It is overblown and not kind to the image Logic has crafted for himself. The flow on this track does set a very decent tone for the release, but the recycled booming bass and incessant piano loop are a real miscalculation. This is one of Logic’s issues- the more subpar the musical content is, the better Logic’s presence and rapping ability has to be to salvage the track. This was evidenced by almost every single song on the Bobby Tarantino
EP, and has been an unfortunate trait in Hall’s music since the very beginning. ‘Take It Back’ is a good example of this; not a particularly poor song, but the beat is repetitive to the point of nosebleeds and the lyrics cover the same subject as all of the album's other tracks. Logic’s flow is particularly fluid on this track, but the instrumental is almost too preoccupied with giving off a vibe appropriate to the release's overarching theme than it is being a suitable metronome for Logic’s verses. It doesn’t help either that the lyrical content is so on the nose and unsubtle in this regard. Having Hall preach to you about white privilege in iambic pentameter is a thoroughly surreal experience, and not in a good way.
A number of tracks, such as ‘Everybody’, ‘Ink Blot’, and Killer Mike collaboration 'Confess' are nonetheless able to find the magic that makes a good Logic track. The beats are well-written and Logic’s flow weaves and bobs to the point of disbelief. It is in these moments where the knowledge of the hackneyed lyrical content fades for a passing instant and the track feels like a Logic tune, not a charity fundraiser's monologue. Regrettably, this does have the undesired effect of highlighting the discord between message and tone- the pep of Everybody
’s instrumentals could have served the message very well- instead, because the message is regurgitated ad nauseum it becomes trite to the point of pandering. Virtually every track on the album will attest to this, but the best example is probably ‘Mos Definitely’. Perhaps the only track that manages to strike an awkward, wobbly balance between form and content, the beat is sprightly, the bass isn’t too deep, the chorus vocal is simple and admittedly relevant. Thus, a synergy between the elements is found and the track actually sounds constructed rather than thrown together. Despite this, the effect is still one of twee rebuke, illustrating that by the album's 8th track, regardless of how well assembled it may be, the listener is already switched off to the intended message. Overall, it was a frustratingly dim decision to base the entirety of the album around this concept, because there are only so many ways of asserting the point before repetition sets in... and does it ever set in fast here.
Unlike Logic’s earlier releases, Everybody
feels notably lighter in tone and offers a much more positive vibe throughout. This is accentuated by the skits peppered throughout, which are well-performed, and semi-decently scripted (if still a little cliché). These scenes provide some respite and are generally quite amusing, doing a serviceable job of undercutting the release's music with a secondary plotline. The album’s main cross to bear is its tightly-wound self-righteousness. Despite the fact that it is an important issue in today’s world, being bludgeoned over the head by the same statements over and over does become somewhat wearing. The unfortunate part is, Logic’s ability is still impressively showcased here, and he has most definitely stepped up his lyricism, offering some oftentimes genuinely witty zingers and wisecracks, all held together by his lucid and speedy flow. The truth is, the release is overlong and thematically very unengaging, and it becomes so much too quickly. The sheer scope of addressing this issue was always going to be problematic, but Logic takes it from a single angle and proceeds to dominate from this viewpoint for the entire release. The album's plot and attempted grandeur of the musical content attempts to layer on the depth but it is plain to see that these are simply vanish on an already-scuffed wood veneer. All ideas of equality and humanity are things people globally hold dear and yearn for- so much so that a great deal of the generalised issues covered on the release come across as very cliché, rendering the experience very dull despite the bubbly effervescence of many tracks. Thankfully though, Everybody
certainly does not feel like an incremental release for Logic, so here's hoping on future releases he will put the obvious effort that went into making Everybody
into crafting an album with actual variety to the musicality and lyricism, rather than just buzzwords and the underwhelming selection of beats on display here. Essentially, what the album is lacking is a sense of positivity and fun- traits that permeated all of Logic's earlier releases- now suspiciously absent at the cost of a discussion-worthy issue that gets lost in a haze of constant re-iteration.