(Warning: I get slightly personal in some parts. It's also my longest review. Gotta look at the comments section)
Gotta confess something... I used to love Logic.
Picture me being around 15- 16 years old, going through a bit of a hip hop head phase. I first found about Logic on sway in the morning delivering a dizzying freestyle. I was super impressed by it, but didn't think too much of it afterwards. One day in school, overheard some students playing a rapper, I recognized one of the lines:
"Goddamn, goddamn, conversations with legends, crazy how one day your idols can turn into your brethren"
It's one of the lines Logic used in the freestyle. I asked the classmate who it was, he confirmed it was Logic. I became more interested in him going forward. Listening to more of his music, I began to like him more and more . After hearing Under Pressure, I feel in love with his personality. Of course I've started being one of the many people following his progress going forward.
What is it about Under Pressure that I find so compelling to this day? His drive. This is Logic at his most hungry, at his ambitious, his most inspired. In this album, we see Logic bearing his soul as he details his upbringing, his internal conflicts in the face of his surroundings and his passion and drive to find a better life for himself. I want to go more in depth about what I love about each song.
The intro is such a beautiful way to start the whole thing off. Logic singing about breaking free from his surroundings and finding a better life for himself and his future. His singing voice. Althought not the strongest, just sounds so lovely here. And production is lush, layered and grand.
"Soul Food" does a great job in establishing this autobiographical picture of Logic's upbringing. It's ugly, gritty as he details being around drug cookers/dealing sometimes in the same place one his uses to cook food. His druggie dad going "M.I.A" and his mom being an abusive drug addict. The way Logic details his own internal & external conflict as he describes what he wants to do to his other sister's abusive boyfriend feels so real:
"Plus my other sister just went back to her old dude
He whoopin’ her ass—I’ll kill him, I’ll kill him
I’ll motherfuckin’ kill him
I said, I really want to kill him—but I can’t
‘Cause if I do, po-po gon’ claim I’m the villain, but I ain’t"
Logic lyrically is at his best on the albums as he describes the grittiness of his neighborhood with witty, but hard hitting lines like:
"Never stolen, I’m from Maryland
Where they shoot you in the dark of the night
Like Christopher Nolan, for talking outta your colon"
This info only adds to the weight of the second verse as he reminisces about his upbringing while moving forward as he's signed to DefJam and is on the road to better living. Thematically, this will leads us full circle during the second to final track, the title track. The No-ID & Six laced production is so jazzy, layered and textured, a theme we see in the whole album.
In "I'm Gone", Logic discusses his past ambitions with money, sex, and cars as he leaves them behind in order for something more fulfilling. He's "been there and don't want it back". I've always loved the looped vocal samples in the background of the track. They sound so hypnotic, and add such meditative feeling to the track.
One thing to note about this album is just how much Logic displays his versatility on it. There's so many cadences his plays with is another thing that made me impressed with him, this one if the many reasons why I loved and still love "Gang Related".
"Gang Related" details the reality that drug dealers have to go through to make a profit. The thing about this track that makes it separate form most tracks of a similar subject, is that it's told from both the perspectives of Logic's Brother and Logic as a young boy.
I remember being more dazzled the flow than anything else, but into the lyrics now these day makes me appreciate this song even more. As Logic's details his perspective, it's heavy:
"Now, born and raised in my area. Beautiful by day, by night it’s hysteria, Fuck around and bury ya tonight, Ridin’ with my homies on sight"
"Goddamn, what it feel like, middle of the night
Wakin’ up, scared for my life, Never had the heat, just a knife"
It hurts even more knowing that his safety was never secured at home as police would invade his home due to the amount of criminal activity in his own house...due to his brother's drug dealing. Logic goes into detail about the dangerous reality of drug dealing and gang violence (I found out later that Logic actually interviewed his brother to get a greater understanding of his perspective just for this song):
"Livin’ life like this
Hope little Bobby never fight like this
Stab a motherfucker with a knife like this"
"I imagine a better life, Where I never had a debt in life, Hit you with the *gunshots* in the dead of night"
"If I sell a brick I can buy a house
If they find the key they might lock me up,
But I take the chance 'cause I need that shit and don’t give a fuck"
This song is so humanizing for his brother. I feel for his brother. The introspection on this track is a true testament to the very thing that I love about this album, Logic's drive. His passion to break out of this broken life.
"Buried alive" is a much more soothing follow up to the aggressive narrative of the previous track. As Logic just simply describes the feeling of being buried alive due to the new found fame he's gotten off of previous music. As his mind riddled with anxiety wondering if he really wants to be famous. The production's far more jazzy and relaxed than the trap filled "Gang Related". It also has a killer hook with a hilarious nod to the T.V. show "Shamless".
Throughout this entire album, it doesn't feel like Logic's forcing you to seeing him as a good guy struggling to find his way, he just naturally gave off that vibe.
Bounce is one of the few tracks that a lot more party or vibe focused. It always was one of my least favorite tracks due to the hook, it drags on for a rather long time, but the production is a highlight as usual.
Then we get to one of my favorite tracks…Growing Pains III. It starts off with a bit of dialogue between this group of men, when all of a sudden they're all victims of a drive by shooting. Logic (younger) then reveals that he's overheard the entire thing from his room. Here Logic says a few lines that hit me so hard:
"That welfare check, check
Won’t ever bounce like my daddy did
But I’m glad he did ’cause it made me strong"
I relate to the this line so hard. It hurts knowing my father left me. It's left a whole in my heart that was so hard to fill. But it's made me the person that I am and I'm happy with whole I am.
As the song continues, the jazzy production shifts in its tone, to something more somber. Logic lists examples off the grimy reality of his living conditions. Social Services threatening to take Logic away from his abusive mom, his mom getting arrested a few times, guys robbing an ice cream truck, etc.
Logic tries his best to drown out this reality through his television as he pretends to that he has a great and loving family as a way to avoid his pain. The T.V. turns off. His illusion is shattered. He realizes he never actually left hell.
"Never enough" is another nice shift from the somber subject. It's more of another vibe and party centered track. It sounds so relaxed. The jazzy production adds so much to the overall vibe. The overall subject matter of the track not as serious and the shift isn't abrupt at all.
Metropolis is just as relaxing the previous song. Although it sounds like another braggadocio track that you're used to hearing, Logic makes it different by coming from the standpoint of amazement. He's amazed, because he made it. He amazed, he never thought he'd make it big, but it was his drive, and his ambition that pushed him to become as passionate as he is.
What makes this track all the more sweet is the end discussion between Logic and a girl at the closing part of the song over Quentin Tarantino's movies. Logic seems so much more passionate in this conversation. It's almost like he's trying to connect with her assuming she'd be just as passionate about this as he is. It speaks a another layer to how ambition plays major role in this overall album and his Logic come up days.
Then we get to "Nikki". Track which answers one of the largest questions on the album. Who's Nikki? Throughout the whole album Logic mentions how much he needs Nikki, often referencing her as a lover who he goes to for comfort. In reality, Nikki was a personification for his nicotine addiction and this track is Logic admitting that he needs break up with Nikki.
"Man you’re everything I crave
You’re the only thing I let in that would put me in the grave"
I was satisfied by how well this track ties together a central theme to the album, all the while sticking to the autobiographical narrative of the album. Even the production's considerably more somber than the previous track.
Now we get to the title track. As I said on "Soul Food", the narrative of Logic's drive to keep working will come full circle thematically. Here we are. The production in the first half is fast paced which adds to the theme really well. In the first half of this track, Logic gives us the mental picture of how passionate he was at this point:
"Work so fucking much, my greatest fear is I’ma die alone,Every diamond in my chain, yeah, that’s a milestone
People calling me, askin' me for money, man The only thing I'ma give you motherfuckers is the dial tone"
"Live it up, hold on to your dream, don’t ever give it up, Finally had my share of success, and shit, I can’t get enough"
He's almost become workaholic. As the song continues the tone changes, instead a fast-paced set of looped samples, we get a guitar, we get back the relaxed jazzy theme we've seen so far.