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Logic - YSIV (Album Review)

Monday, 15 October 2018 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

It takes some skill to kill an album's momentum on the very first track, but Logic somehow manages it on 'YSIV'. Thank You, which kicks off the fourth instalment of his 'Young Sinatra' series, initially showcases all that's good about the Logic sound, and his crisp flow and vocal delivery are a strong counterpoint to a lethargic boom bap beat. But it is stretched to eight minutes by the inclusion of dozens of voicemails from fans, who profess their affection and how much his music means to them.

You get the impression Logic sees this kind of gesture as important and emblematic of the type of artist he wants to be: open, humble, grateful and in touch with his base. Instead, there's something eerily self-indulgent about it, especially when so much of the record is all about him: his struggles, his hard work, his destiny, his everything. On the track One Day, he shares valuable advice with fans who want to achieve what he has: “If you white or if you black, if you rich or you poor, we gon' always want more.” Systemic oppression is apparently no barrier when you persist and persevere.

It's the sort of cliched faux-motivational claptrap that hip-hop's finest were already attempting to confront back in the mid-’90s, ironically the period that Logic is most keen to invoke.

Admittedly, he has an ear for classy production inspired by that era, as showcased on the triple threat of Everybody Dies, The Return and The Glorious Five. The verses on these cuts are hardly exceptional – just mixtape-esque boasts impressively rapped in double-time – but they're presented with wit and energy.

The samples and drum breaks used are often sourced directly from classic songs, which is hardly unusual, but problems start to emerge when his old-school touchstones feel more satirical than anything else. The title track – like on previous Young Sinatra projects – again samples and repurposes AZ's classic Life's a Bitch hook on 'Illmatic' in a way that feels tacky and contrived. Then there's Wu-Tang Forever, another eight-minute monster that features verses from every single member of the Wu-Tang Clan.  

Logic is understandably gleeful to rap alongside his heroes, but that's about the only coherent emotion he's able to convey in an uninspiring verse that mawkishly alludes to “Wu-Tang style” and “assassinatin' every single borough”. The Clan's members, despite being well past their best, show him up with everything his verse lacks: wordplay, punchlines and imagery. Logic might be proud of the spot for shoring up his “legacy” (which he tackles on the track of the same name), but it's another example of showboating without depth.

Setting aside the fact 'YSIV' is about half an hour too long, this misplacement of priorities is the most frustrating thing about Logic's music. He's undeniably a gifted emcee who can make a track pop off with his hooks and vocal inflections, making for albums that are artificially attractive. Beneath that, though, he struggles to string together a decent narrative and repeatedly resorts to his own well-worn aspirational tales. To fans of this series, maybe this final instalment is a worthy victory lap. But the rest of us are left with an album that somehow feels simultaneously bloated and half-baked.

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