There have always been artist’s who lived their lives in the public eye. It’s a fallacy that the internet and television created society’s obsession with the rich and famous. Before reality TV stars we had socialites. Before the internet, movie stars went on TV programs like the Dick Cavett Show and did more than hock their latest project. Now artists can make their own personal Dick Cavett Show whenever they like. They can post new art, new ideas and new information anytime they want. The level of access is all that’s unprecedented, but the desire to share oneself in one’s entirety is nothing new.
On Logic’s latest album, “Everybody”, we don’t just get songs, we get everything in between as well. The curtain is completely pulled back. “Everybody” takes us through Logic’s philosophies, his identity issues, his mental health issues, and his political beliefs. These aren’t songs with a few lyrics thrown in to give the appearance of conscious hip-hop. The songs on the album sometimes morph into confessionals in which Logic bares his soul. Those songs are accompanied by skits that offer insight into Logic’s mindset. The album is accompanied by a special documentary about the making of the album. And that deluxe album is also annotated on Genius by Logic himself. Logic grants us almost completely unfettered access.
Logic has always been willing to discuss his most personal details in his music. Much of what Logic raps about is his racial identity. He’s half Black and half White and both sides have given him guff. He’s been slurred by both groups, called an impostor by both groups and he’s accepted both groups. Logic has no qualms with his racial identity, but many other people do. “Take it Back” discusses his identity, the reactions its provoked in people and the outcome of experiencing those reactions. Logic says although he endured ridicule he is here today, “A lover of all human beings regardless of race, religion, color, creed and sexual orientation.” This is a consistent theme on the album.
“Everybody” is the name of the album but it’s also a philosophy or concept. On several songs Logic asks why are we fighting, killing and hating each other over differences that we should be able to accept? “AfricAryan”, the album’s final song, contains the most thorough exploration of this concept. Logic explains the warring factions that exist inside of him, highlighting his mother’s contradictory racism towards Black people.
Aside from the personal, “Everyone” makes a point of arguing for Black lives and all lives. In a “Rolling Stone” article Logic said that he doesn’t like participating in hashtag or internet campaigns like Black Lives Matter. He decided he would make an album to express his thoughts. That’s why “Everybody” has so many conscious songs that cover topics Logic usually leaves alone. “America” with Black Thought and Chuck D covers the current president, Kanye and the plight of the Black community. For Logic this was the first time he shared his political views in his art and he wanted to make sure it was a strong statement. On “Mos Definitely” and “Killing Spree” Logic condemns the media for their part in promoting lavish lifestyles. It’s the paper chase that sends so many young Black men to the streets. Logic is careful not to condone or condemn the path of those who go for the money no matter the consequence. He understands the motivation, but he also wants it to stop.
The third major theme of “Everybody” is a bit more off the beaten path. The album is book-ended by skits involving a dead man who is talking to a God. The dead man learns that he is everybody, everything in creation, and that he has been reincarnated billions of times. He will continue to be reincarnated until he attains the necessary knowledge. Then he’ll become a God. If you recognize your religion in there you’re not wrong. The God on “Everybody” says that all religions got it a little bit right.
Aside from this being a very nice sentiment, it’s also the least compelling theme of the album. It sounds like the good-natured musings of a person who took shrooms for the first time. If that’s too cynical, let’s first say that the message ties in with the other, more concrete themes in the album. Also, Logic got Neil Degrasse Tyson to act in the skits, so that lends the sketches some kind of pseudo-intellectual credibility (read: the skits are not intellectual; NDT is). That aside, the ideas expressed in those skits are a bit basic and a bit on-the-nose. Someone as talented as Logic has the ability to craft songs and skits about inter-connectivity without verbally hitting his listener with a blunt object.
And therein lies the problem with the album. It’s a very thoughtful album and its heart is mos definitely (ha!) in the right place…maybe. Or maybe it’s heart is actually jumping out of its chest and screaming in your face. The effect of the confessionals and the skits and the unfettered access is a collective feeling of overexposure and underdevelopment. On some parts of the album it feels like access replaced craftsmanship. Even if a song more or less tackled its subject matter, it had to be given an addendum in the form of a monologue to hammer the point home. Logic ought to trust his audience more than that.
One of Logic’s biggest influences is Mos Def. The homage on the album is obvious from the title but the song also features a nod to the refrain from “Umi Says.” That classic song by Mos demonstrates the difference between Logic and his adopted mentor. “Umi Says” is the perfect balance of cerebral expression and pure emotion. On the track Mos’s lyrics drift in and out like the jangling of a wind chime. We hear Mos’s words, understand their meaning and derive more emotion from the way he says them than from the words by themselves. With “Everybody” Logic aspires to reach that lofty height. He doesn’t quite get there, but he gives an amazing effort leaving no part of himself uncovered along the way.