In recent years, Logic has catapulted from an inspirational figure for misfits, into one of hip-hop’s most visible stars. He spends the final four minutes of “Thank You,” the long intro to his fourth studio album Young Sinatra IV, running through phone calls of young fans from damn near every continent thanking him for changing their lives.
Logic reciprocates that same energy, showing his gratitude for all the fans who helped carry him to the finale of the Young Sinatra series—which he speaks about with the unearned reverence of Lil Wayne’s Carterseries. He then brands Young Sinatra IV his serious album, determined to give the anthology the conclusion he seems to think it deserves: returning to the boom bap beats of his longtime in-house producer 6ix, getting back on his real rap shit, and forcibly trying to cement his place in hip-hop history. Welcome to the cult of Logic.
Here’s the thing about Logic: He can rap. He really can. He can flow over anything. But his obsession with his legacy causes him to violate a 2018 rap truism: no rap song should go beyond two verses. If it does, you better be spitting some mind-rattling shit, and he assuredly isn’t. Logic can start off fine but will often delve into tiresome three-, four-, and even five-verse tracks going off on incomplete, uplifting rambles.
The most memorable Young Sinatra IV moments come when Logic forgets the whole magnum opus thing and stops trying to be the rap Tony Robbins. The title track—Logic’s tribute to the late Mac Miller—samples Nas and AZ’s “Life’s A Bitch” and Logic just spits. It’s six minutes long but it feels weightless as a piano-laden beat change-up keeps it fresh while Logic is at home making his bold proclamations (“Respected by my peers from Drizzy to Cole to Kenny”). “Wu-Tang Forever” should’ve been the worst eight minutes of 2018. Logic dragging his fans into sitting through a bottom-rung flex like getting every living Wu-Tang member on a track isn’t how anyone, even the most diehard Logicians, should want to spend their time. Yet Logic is all in, dedicating himself to fitting in as the latest Wu-affiliate, which rubs off on the Wu who, for once, don’t take that cushiony Def Jam direct deposit for granted.
But most of the time, Logic is chasing his legacy-defining dreams. On the subtly titled “Legacy,” he uses a light five verses to clash with himself about whether becoming a rap legend is worth spending less time with his family. He later tries to convince everyone that something momentous is happening, holding up his 2018 Eminem co-sign as proof: “Shout out to that boy Slim Shady for all the love, yeah!” Then, he uses one of the few hard-hitting productions on the album on “Everybody Dies”—courtesy of Cubeatz and 6ix—to pack in insane hypotheticals: “Man I wish that I could be a dog in a rich family/Oh wow how nice that would be/My life a catastrophe;” all while hoping nobody realizes that behind his smooth flow is a rapper who is completely making it up as he goes.
Logic’s lyrical prowess continues to get in his way on songs like “The Return,” which sounds like a motivational song made for a late night Nike ad: “When shit get rough I get tough and when I’m beaten to the ground/I get up, I get up.” He then continues to appeal to his legion of loyal outsiders by proving he’s one of them in the most over-the-top way possible: “Called a faggot, a ni–er, a cracker who wish he was blacker.” And after it all, Logic still wants to make crystal clear that he just dropped his classic, remaking the finale of Kanye West’s College Dropout, “Last Call.” He takes more than 10 minutes to regurgitate some after-school-special bars (“This for anyone with ambition, calling anybody that’ll listen/I’m wishing all your dreams come true cause mine did”). He seems to see this as the final chapter of a coming-of-age saga that has earned a spot alongside the Kanye college trilogy, but that’s a tragic misreading of reality.
Logic’s music has had depth before, as with his suicide hotline awareness hit “1-800-273-8255,” though it’s arguable if it was any more salient than your average PSA. It wasn’t much catchier. But it touched his loyal fans and created millions more, and that song was likely the engine that caused them to phone in en masse for the album’s intro. He hasn’t come close to the power and pathos of that song since, but lucky for Logic, that emotional connection he made is so strong, people won’t care if he really doesn’t have shit to say this time around