Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (released May 10, 2019)
When you think about it, Logic’s rise to rap prominence feels straight out of a big-budget film.
A kid from Maryland who escaped a broken home to become an underground rap sensation, land a major record deal and drops multiplatinum singles? The late John Singleton couldn’t have crafted a better rags-to-riches story.
But despite that fame, Logic has always had a Groot-sized chip on his shoulder.
From his very public marital woes and incessant debates about his biracial heritage to criticisms of his hyperactive delivery and occasionally questionable subject matter, Logic’s life – both personally and professionally – has constantly picked apart by critics.
You can’t blame him for being a little insecure.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Logic’s fifth studio LP, gives listeners a peek into his conflicted psyche, one that showcases his impressive intellect one minute but bounces to goofy immaturity at the next. It’s a hodgepodge of themes that range from social justice to strip clubs, making for an erratic, but sometimes intriguing listen.
In recent years, Logic has been stuck with my least favorite label in hip-hop right now, “rappity rap.” Most times, it’s used by lazy fans who belittle rappers for intricate wordplay.
Stop criticizing people for being good at their jobs. That Migos trash has melted your brains.
However that “rappity rap” designation isn’t totally without merit – my biggest criticism of Logic is while he’s technically superior to most of his peers, his songs sometimes fail to make an emotional connection with the listener. You HEAR him – and he almost always sounds great – but you often don’t FEEL him.
When he’s capable of making that connection, Logic shines. The album is bookended by two great examples: On the title track, it’s like dude has been reading my reviews of his previous albums, outright saying to himself on the hook: “What’s your name? What’s your game?/Come now, boy, just spit your flow/Feel the pain with the gain, what you tryna say though?” Soon after, the track becomes a one-man pep rally, almost an attempt to prove to himself that he’s as good as he claims. He’s trying to find himself through his music, and taking the listener on that journey makes for a deeper connection.
The album closer, “Lost In Translation” follows a similar theme. Playing off the movie that shares its name, Logic tries to find solace in an unfamiliar land – in this case, a beat that totally changes tempo every couple of minutes. And he makes the most out of the shifting soundscape, absolutely blistering the track:
Far from evil, I’m kinda like Spike Spiegel
A cowboy paid for retrieval
B****es jumpin’ to conclusions like Evel Knievel
Best believe you, b****, I’ll leave you stranded
Try to dap me up left-handed
I’ll leave you defeated and amputated till the blood coagulated
Logic knows how to start strong and finish stronger.
But, um, yeah, it’s everything in between that needs work.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind seems to work best when Logic just lets loose and flows until his heart’s content. “Out of Sight” and “Pardon My Ego” are all about wordplay and punchlines over stellar production. In the long run, they’re not memorable, but they’re fun in the moment.
But where Logic stumbles is when he tries to wrap his head around weightier themes. “clickbait” starts out as a strong commentary on the dangers of living life through Instagram filters and social media acceptance but goes off the rails by shaming everyone from Charlemagne to critics of deceased emo rapper Lil Peep.
“Icy,” “COMMANDO” and “Still Ballin'” drip with typical “I’m richer than you” rap bravado, and while the songs are clearly tongue-in-cheek, they’re either too juvenile (“Icy”) or too generic (“Still Ballin”). “Cocaine” is clearly meant to be a message against glorifying addiction (“If I don’t talk about it on my album, they won’t buy it”) but Logic rushes through the verses before the message hits home.
It’s that whole “rappity rap” thing rearing its ugly head again.
That tag is on full display on “Homicide,” which pairs Logic with another frequent target of that term, Eminem. But listen to the difference in delivery on the track – while Logic goes balls to the wall with his double-time flow (including some hilarious odes to Slim Shady on the hook) Em raps just as fast but his delivery is much more impactful and, therefore, memorable.
It’s not about how well you spit, it’s about making those lyrics hit home.
Logic wisely slows things down for “Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different,” featuring Will Smith of all people, but despite the fun cameo, again, the theme of self-empowerment misses, feeling way too preachy and corny for the room. It’s like a rap your eighth-grade guidance counselor would make you recite at the school assembly.
If it feels like I’m being too tough on Logic, it’s because I know he can do better. When it comes to lyrical prowess, there aren’t too many rappers under age 30 in his league right now. And the production on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind alone (shout out to 6ix, who handled the heavy lifting) should have made this a 2019 standout. But even his impressive wordplay can’t ground the album’s scattershot themes.
Logic’s is an open book, which I appreciate. He’s great at talking AT us, just not always good at talking TO us.
Best tracks: “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Lost In Translation,” “Pardon My Ego”
3 stars out of 5