The pressure’s on for Logic’s final album

Aug. 5, 2020, 5:01 p.m.

Things were not looking up for Maryland rapper Logic (Sir Robert “Bobby” Bryson Hall II)’s critical career after a dismal performance in 2019. In March, the rapper dipped his toes into soft-rock with his “Supermarket” project, an album that accompanied his autobiography of the same name. The project was almost universally scorned, with the Rolling Stone magazine calling it “uniquely bad” and Pitchfork describing it as “a painful slog.” However, a chance for redemption came in early May with Logic’s second album in the same year, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” Unfortunately, this project faced a similar reception, receiving a measly 1.22/5.00 from nearly 2,000 reviews on review aggregate RateYourMusic.

Needless to say, despite the title of Logic’s newest album, the pressure was on to deliver a return to form for the rapper. Self-described as his last album ever, “No Pressure” marked a critical point in Logic’s career, and was one last chance to remind the fans why they first fell in love with him all those years ago.

Luckily, Logic understood this fact just as much as his fans, and tapped producer No I.D. (Kanye West, JAY-Z, Nas) to executive-produce the entire “No Pressure” tape. The last time the two collaborated was in 2014, with Logic’s “Under Pressure,” which unlike his more recent releases had been acclaimed by both fans and critics alike. No I.D. is known for his upbeat, sample-driven, old-school hip-hop stylings, which he brought in full-form on “No Pressure.” Bolstered by classic synths, chopped up samples and dusty drum kits, the production on this album stands out as a callback to Logic’s older works. Fans were vocal about their disappointment with the trap and modern hip-hop textures on Logic’s recent releases, and he seemed to have listened. 

However, as Logic will tell you on “Dark Place,” he’s not simply backtracking into 2014 territory: “People say they want the older me / Well, I’m thirty, this the oldest me.” Logic’s “No Pressure” feels noteworthy in his discography because it acts as a fusion between the stylings and flare of his older albums, and the lyricism and flow of a more mature and weathered rapper. Much of the criticism of “Supermarket” and “Confessions” revolves around the lyrics themselves, where  Logic tried too hard to flex and cement his self-proclaimed place as one of the greatest rappers of all time. This self-congratulatory attitude became a sore subject with “Old Logic” fans who felt as if the rapper had fallen from grace. 

“No Pressure” finds a happy medium, with Logic still hitting the slyly narcissistic, snappy punchlines that have been a constant throughout his discography, while providing perspective and signs of real growth throughout. 

“Open Mic//Aquarius III” is a standout, exemplifying what makes “No Pressure” such a success. From the very start, the production glides through a smooth, spoken word sample, followed by a snappy rap beat and a soft choir backing track. From there, Logic dives right into the story he came to tell — one of escape, family troubles, triumph and separation. Perhaps the most meaningful segment comes in the first verse, where Logic discusses his precarious relationship with his mother. The rapper gets personal: “Battled addiction in the womb / A crack baby by definition,” referencing his mother’s struggles with drugs during her pregnancy, and “Social worker trying to take me away / But I know that group home probably worse, hell nah, no way / At least I know my odds here, I’ma be okay.” The honesty and heart that Logic brings to “Open Mic” are even more impactful when he interpolates his older work in the process, bringing back lines, samples and melodies from albums all throughout his discography, including 2019’s “Confessions” and 2014’s “Under Pressure”. 

These discographic callbacks work to bolster the full-circle nature of “No Pressure,” which is sentimental considering that this album is reportedly his last. As a new father, Logic is looking to settle down, raise his child and step away from the limelight, so he had a big send-off to deliver here. “No Pressure” acts as a culmination of everything that’s come before, and a final stage of evolution in the rapper’s career. Whether or not Logic actually retires permanently, he can rest easy knowing that he delivered an incredibly solid capstone to an incredibly tumultuous career.

Contact Morris Raskin at mraskin20 ‘at’

Morris Raskin is a high school student writing as part of The Stanford Daily's Summer Journalism Workshop.

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