It may be best not to overthink Everybody. Yes, perhaps there is too much going on in the course of the album’s 13 tracks, meaning that some of its themes feel rather undercooked. Perhaps Logic sounds too much like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole at times, and maybe the Bruce Almighty-like interludes in which “God” converses in private with a mortal man inside of a vortex with an ordinary man wind up being a little too meandering.
However, in spite of its objective shortcomings, Everybody (released May 5, 2017 via Visionary Music Group / Def Jam) still deserves to be commended for what is clear from its opening moments onwards — this album is a blast to listen to. One can imagine the huge smile on the Maryland native’s face as he stands in front of a studio mic, recording this album in pure delight. It is clear just how deeply Logic enjoys making music, and that makes it super easy to enjoy listening to the record as well.
Having fun doesn’t keep Logic from addressing a number of heavy issues, though. On songs like “Killing Spree” and the title track, he takes a look at what “everybody” is up to in the current age — aha, so that’s where the album’s name comes from! — and, by and large, he is not amused. He deplores the materialism that has overtaken the contemporary landscape and how we now are all “looking for the meaning of life through a cell phone screen.”
Logic makes pleas for greater levels of racial and religious tolerance — “let others believe what they want to believe, as long as they’re not hurting anyone,” he insists — and joins the “stop the violence” cries that have been common throughout hip-hop’s post-gangsta rap, pro-“Black Lives Matter” era of late. He questions why there can’t be a “Black Spiderman” — why can’t we all do more to embrace diversity?, to put his point more broadly — and urges those considering suicide to call the nearest lifeline, since living life is indeed worth it.
Watch: “Black Spiderman” – Logic
All of this is to say that Logic has a broad platform of social commentary, but in the end, the record becomes overpopulated by them and is far from the most cohesive statement that an MC of Logic’s capability could have made. Some of these themes are indeed treated quite well— most of all when Logic speaks to some of his personal struggles, such as dealing with anxiety and the taunting he faced as a biracial youth. On his next album, though, the rapper would do better to pick a handful of the thoughts on his mind and treat them more thoroughly, rather than sending such a tremendous number of them flying at listeners at a furious rate, which results in only a handful of them making their intended emotional impact.
Yet although Logic has mixed success in the role of the social-activist-on-wax, he still infuses enough entertainment value into Everybody to make it a worthwhile listen. Much of this is the product of his most obvious and widely-applauded gift as a rapper: his dazzling flow. Logic excels in this regard through the record, and some of his speed-raps, particularly on the songs “Hallelujah” and “Take It Back,” are simply knocked out of the park.
Other key strengths of the record lie in its infectious lyricism — consider the gotta-sing-along refrain “Take it back, take it way back, take it way, way back to the first black man,” for instance — and its lively and lush production. Logic’s longtime companions 6ix is the MVP in this area, as he serves as executive producer of Everybody and concocts a sample of soulful and energetic beats, particularly on the life-is-good anthems “Hallelujah” and “1-800-273-8255.”
Everybody is also well-served by production recruits such as DJ Khalil, C-Sick and No I.D. — the appearance of the latter is no surprise, given his ties to one of Logic’s lifelong heroes, Kanye West. Is the production too reminiscent of the record’s obvious influence, To Pimp a Butterfly, on occasion? For sure, but that is far from the worse of detractions.
Listen: “1-800-273-8255” – Logic
Logic has assembled quite the lineup of guest artists. “America” feels like a reunion track of rap’s political spokesmen from throughout the years— including Chuck D of Public Enemy, Black Thought of the Roots, and others with a combined century of hip-hop experience— and Killer Mike reprises the role he has adopted so brilliantly in his Run the Jewels trilogy on “Confess.” Alessia Cara and Lucy Rose both provide more emotional weight to back-to-back tracks addressing suicide and anxiety.
Lastly, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s lengthy spoken-word commentary on the meaning of life and self-worth may be overdoing it for a record that thematically has too much on its plate already. Yet the presence of one of the world’s leading astrophysicists on a hip-hop album is an undeniably cool concept, and does have its thought-provoking moments.
Whereas most of his previous output played for sheer entertainment value, Everybody finds Logic trying to become more political and philosophical than ever before, which is something of a muddled transition. Still, the rapper gets enough right on his third LP for the album to warrant a recommendation. It will be compelling to see where the 27-year-old will go once he learns how to hone his craft and mold the many interesting thoughts on his mind into a sharper narrative structure.
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cover © Logic 2017