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Looking back at Logic’s ‘Under Pressure,’ five years later

in retrospect

Logic’s 2014 debut album, “Under Pressure,” was a peak for the rapper that he hasn’t matched since.
Logic’s 2014 debut album, “Under Pressure,” was a peak for the rapper that he hasn’t matched since.

When American rapper Logic burst onto the scene in 2014 with his first studio album “Under Pressure,” I immediately took notice. With witty wordplay, blisteringly fast rapping and a great story to boot, Logic quickly became one of my favorite rappers. However, with recent albums sounding like dry, repetitive copy-and-pastes of the same “fast rapping” formula, Logic has slowly fallen out of my playlist rotation. No longer is he the exciting up-and-coming rookie, but instead an old veteran who has lost his touch.

So where did it go wrong? Well, with Oct. 21 marking the five year anniversary of “Under Pressure,” I believe it’s only right to take a nostalgia trip back to 2014 and examine what made “Under Pressure” so special, and what Logic can do to reach that point of success once again.

Logic begins “Under Pressure” reflecting on his journey to success over the soulful, piano-led track, “Intro.” With a motivational chorus repeating “You can do anything!” and an upbeat tune, “Intro” is incredibly inspiring and invites the listener to learn more about his story. 

After this intro, “Under Pressure” is comprised of three different parts — the past, present, and future. Though not ordered chronologically, the songs off the album tell the story of Logic’s rise to fame.

Logic first dives into his past with “Soul Food.” Here, Logic introduces the familial struggles he had to endure as a child with painfully honest bars about his mother’s alcoholism and his lack of a father figure. The complex beat profile and unique beat switch in this song give Logic room to flex his clever wordplay with bars like, “Feel my energy — I ain't talking E-N-E-R-G-Y, I mean inner G.” But Logic doesn’t just examine his past in terms of his family: he also focuses on his past through the lens of his external environment. Over an ominous beat, “Gang Related” transports the listener back to Logic’s dangerous hometown through intelligent bars such as, “Just breathe, while their mama grieve, bullet to the dome like an Aleve.” Logic also explores the topic of drug usage with his slow track, “Nikki.” Through the metaphor of a love interest, “Nikki” provides a sobering look into Logic’s nicotine addiction, showcasing Logic’s versatility.

Pivoting to the present, Logic displays an incredible amount of vulnerability by conveying the wide range of emotions he has about his new found success. With an emphasis on introspection, “Buried Alive” discusses Logic’s struggle with fame and jaded attitude towards materialism. “I’m Gone” further echoes this sentiment by explaining Logic’s departure from surface level lyrics. Beyond changing his values, Logic is also aware of the fake friends that fame attracts. With the catchy, hard-hitting track “Now,” Logic calls out all the people who want to be his friend now but weren’t “with him since the beginning.” Finally, Logic examines his relationship with rap and family in, “Under Pressure.” Behind an urgent sounding beat, Logic spends the first half of the song passionately explaining his dedication to his craft, noting how he works so much that his greatest fear would be to die alone. The second half of the song sees Logic creatively communicate the demands of his family through voicemail recordings from each of his relatives. “Under Pressure”’s heart-touching examination of Logic’s internal conflict between working hard and his responsibility to family successfully fuses story-telling with rap and provides a deep look into his personal life.

Looking toward the future, “Till the End” features Logic triumphantly rapping about his optimistic attitude over a victorious and bouncy beat. Logic continues this notion of confidence with the final track, “Alright,” where he concludes that if he can make it big growing up the way he did, the future won’t be a worry. 

I always consider a truly great album not only to have songs that sound good, but also to tell a story. “Under Pressure” weaves a beautifully raw personal narrative about Logic’s ascent to success and all the struggles that came with it. From songs about his family, to songs that deal with his rough upbringing, Logic explores his journey from multiple perspectives, adding dimension, depth and most importantly, meaning to his entire album. In many ways, “Under Pressure” is Logic’s signature album in the sense that it’s a perfect representation of everything Logic embodies — fast technical rapping, clever wordplay and meaningful lyrics. 

Recently, Logic announced his next album will be a sequel to “Under Pressure”. After looking at what made “Under Pressure” so enjoyable, I believe that for the sequel to be successful, it must tell a story and appeal to the emotions in the same way “Under Pressure” did. Because beyond all the technical aspects, at its very core, good music is dependent on how it makes you feel. Do you feel an emotional connection when you listen to the artist? Is it relatable? Does it take you on a journey? 

It’s a shame that recent album disappointments have tainted Logic’s reputation because I do believe he is talented rapper. However, if Logic can capture at least some of the storytelling magic he had with “Under Pressure,” his next album might just put him back on top.

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