Everybody (released May 5, 2017)
Logic’s third album has been the talk of rap circles for the past few weeks now. In fact, I’ve had more requests to review this album than any other release this year.
A few minutes into the album’s intro track and I certainly see why – a guy named Adam (or more specifically, Atom) dies in a car wreck and later meets God (aka Neil deGrasse Tyson) who breaks down the meaning of life and the man’s eventual reincarnation.
Yep, it’s the cult-classic sci-fi story “The Egg” played out over the course of a rap album. Props. And that tale serves as the foundation of Everybody, Logic’s look at racial identity in the U.S.
On the surface, Everybody has the makings of a modern-day classic – an album with a message that’s absolutely essential in America’s current climate.
As great as that message is, though, it’s the delivery that’s pretty flawed.
But first, let’s talk about what works. The aforementioned opening track, “Hallelujah” is essentially a stream-of- consciousness look at Logic’s struggles with his own biracial heritage – a long-running theme in his music over the years.
Got a new vision, everybody listen
F*** around I got a new religion
What it is, what it isn’t, all of that revision
Get the f*** up out that prison
It’s obvious the body is the cracker
The worse it is, what hurts it is, the blacker
And that theme continues on the biographical title track, where he struggles to find a place in two works that equally reject him:
White people told me as a child, as a little boy, playin with his toys
I should be ashamed to be black
And some black people look ashamed when I rap
No one can ever question Logic’s wordplay, as he easily holds his own among legends like Black Thought and Chuck D on “America,” a posse cut that wouldn’t seem out of place on a 1991 Yo! MTV Raps playlist. And speaking of guests, Killer Mike steals the show on the gospel-tinged “Confess,” screaming his frustrations to the heavens: “Why do we suffer? Why do we die? And why do the people who go against everything You ever said always get ahead?” Mike’s frustrations bubble over on the track but it’s the song’s subtle message – how these trying times are shattering even the strongest of faiths – resounds loudest.
Logic should have taken more cues from Mike – it’s the lack of subtlety that what keeps Everybody from reaching the next level.
Tracks like “Killing Spree” and “1-800-273-8255” all touch on very important themes (the invasiveness of social media on the former, mental health on the latter) but they’re delivered with the grace of a sledgehammer. They’re a big contrast from songs like J. Cole’s “Neighbors,” a smart look at racial profiling, or Joey Bada$$’s “Y U Don’t Love Me,” where America herself is portrayed as a neglectful girlfriend. Logic too often eschews creativity for bluntness and when his themes are this forceful, those observations quickly drift from poignant to preachy.
At worst, Logic’s heavy-handed delivery turns his very real struggles into a pity party. “Take It Back” is a fine song that, again, rehashes his “my skin is fair but life isn’t” dilemma, but the goodwill is ruined by a rambling outro that drags the song out well past its expiration date. The album closer “AfricAryaN” is even worse – Logic loops the SAME VERSE again and again over the course of a TWELVE minute track. J. Cole pops up at the tail end of the song to salvage things but it’s too little, too late.
If it sounds like I’m being too harsh here, it’s because Everybody should have been Logic’s defining album. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a big win conceptually –Neil deGrasse Tyson’s monologue on “AfricAryaN” is especially stirring. But Logic gets so wrapped up in telling his own personal story that he doesn’t take enough time to let, well, Everybody in.
Best tracks: “America,” “Everybody,” “Confess”
3.5 stars out of 5