‘Vinyl Days’ finds Logic serving up many of his signature creative elements. Time-tested though that template may be, now that he’s up to seven studio albums, there remains plenty of life left in it yet.
Stream: ‘Vinyl Days’ – Logic
Logic deserves to be celebrated as one of the most capable and entertaining mainstream MCs of rap’s current era.
Logic has been known to quote Jay-Z (and bucketloads of other rappers) many times throughout the years, going back to his now-decade-old earliest mixtapes, on which he rapped, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t,” a nod to The Blueprint 3.
As it turns out, Logic and Jay-Z have a solid number of traits in common beyond a handful of swagger-jacked lines. For starters, both have been known to compare themselves to American legend Frank Sinatra. “I’m the new Sinatra, and since I made it here, I can make it anywhere,” Hova rapped in one of his most defining hits, “Empire State of Mind.” Meanwhile, Logic has adapted the mantle of “Young Sinatra” throughout his career— the quoted lyric above came from 2012’s Young Sinatra: Undeniable, for instance— which may well be a way of indirectly linking himself to Jay.
This year, another undeniable parallel between the two rappers have emerged: Both of them have announced they would retire for good, and then, to nobody’s surprise whatsoever, returned with new music relatively soon thereafter. Granted, Logic didn’t make as grand a faux-departure as Jay-Z did in 2003, with a massive sold-out show at Madison Square Garden that was farcically billed as his “final performance ever.” Yet Sir Robert Bryson Hall was equally blunt about his intentions to hang up his mic following 2020’s No Pressure, saying that he now wanted to devote his efforts to marriage and fatherhood, rather than music.
This writer, for one, wasn’t falling for it, opining that “it’s ultimately unlikely we’ve heard the very last of Logic on No Pressure.”
Indeed, it took less than two years for that suspicion to be validated, as Logic has now returned with his seventh studio album, Vinyl Days. He’s got a handful of explanations as to why he took time off; basically, on top of family commitments, it also sounds like he wanted to give other activities a try, just as all of us did throughout the lockdown woes of 2020.
“Wanna know why I retired? ‘Cause I was uninspired,” he raps on “BLACKWHITEBOY.” “I’d rather fail at something new than doing the same shit every day.” In the end, though, what matters most is that one of the defining MC’s of the 2010s is back, looking to make more of a mark on the 2020s.
Just as anyone who sits down for a James Bond movie safely knows that certain features are about to come — a high-paced chase scene in the first few minutes, a stylized opening credits sequence with a hot new song by a current pop artist, and so on — Logic has put out more than enough material in the past ten-ish years for us to have some idea of what to expect whenever that album total grows by one.
That often includes inviting a guest vocalist without necessarily much of a background in hip-hop to stop by and speak the truth for a while. Whereas Neil DeGrasse Tyson fulfilled that mantra on 2017’s Everybody, Morgan Freeman — who will be celebrating his 30th birthday as The Godfather of Voiceovers in a couple of years once The Shawshank Redemption turns that old — takes his place on the album opener, “Danger.”
A whooping twenty-nine tracks later, we get yet another College Dropout-style lengthy closing number, “Sayonara,” on which Logic makes his way through a long list of thank-you’s. This one is a bit different from its predecessors, though, since the rapper is now about to part ways with Def Jam, and thus makes room for some delicate au revoirs to his former label mates (i.e. “There’s definitely some f-boys in that building, some suits wearing ties and shit, but it’s some real good-ass f-in’ people, man“).
This my Friday Night Lights, track ninеteen
From major to independent, as sightseen, my Ultralight Bеam
I ain’t finna go into the discrepancies of my deal
Like the millions that y’all owe me, I gotta audit y’all for real
But you changed my life, that’s my word
Took a young kid out of Gaithersburg, and you’ll never know
What it means for a kid in his teens and his entire team
To go from open mics to actually livin’ they dreams
This a “Thank you” to the people in the building
For helping me build the empire that I’m still building
Diddy said a rapper only gets five years, we double that
Independent now, won’t double back
I rep the BMG, yeah, I’m the Big Money Getter
F- the pop shit, remember Logic as a spitter
Just a kid havin’ fun when I step to the mic
That’s why I never understood the hate I get when I write
Back when posting new songs on Internet rap forums
All the way to talkin’ shit the first night I sold out The Forum
But they hated Jesus, homie
During the hour-plus interim, more and more of what we’ve come to expect from Logic surfaces time and again. Perhaps most essentially, we get several more rounds of that dizzying speed rapping. “Clouds” is one of the best examples of this, as Logic acknowledges that his flow is indeed “kinda fast, but it’s chill like a pocket full of valium. Head up in the clouds, but I’m coming down soon, yeah.”
Something that’s always been admirable of Logic’s music is how much his cognizance of All Things Hip-Hop, Past & Present, is put on proud display.
Vinyl Days continues that trend in glorious style, as Logic generously offers a platform to several bubbling-under-mainstream MCs. IamJMARS holds his ground with some stellar motor-mouthing of his own on “Kickstyle,” while “Introducing Nezi” finds little-known Dallas-based MC Nezi Momodu making the most of the opportunity to prove that she is indeed “lyrically homicidal, vital, spitting for your idol.”
Elsewhere, the Main Man can be heard trading bars with his fellow 2010s MCs, including Action Bronson on “In My Lifetime” and Wiz Khalifa on “Breath Control,” as well as some rappers from slightly earlier times, such as The Game on “I Guess I Love It.” On “Rogue One,” he really follows his own old advice to “take it back, take it way, way back,” by inviting DJ Funkmaster Flex — who launched Hot 97 in New York, the first ever hip-hop radio show, only a couple of years after Logic himself was born. Of course, per longstanding Logic tradition, there are plenty of voicemail-style skits peppered all over (“Tony Revolori” being among the most amusing of these).
Some valid and obvious criticisms can be leveled at Vinyl Days. At 72 minutes, it does make for a bulky and unfocused listen that could well have been split in two. With so many guest artists, the results are inevitably uneven. Also, while it’s cool to see Logic keep embracing much of his signature LP template, now that his discography is as bulky as it is, Vinyl Days can’t exactly be called the most adventurous album that the MC might have conjured.
The final word, though, has to be a positive one: Vinyl Days serves as a consistently enjoyable and stylistically successful comeback record (if you want to call it that) for Young Sinatra. Whatever one may make of the implied self-comparison to Jay-Z — who, let’s not forgot, also made his mark on Def Jam for some time before deciding it was time to move on to other projects – Logic deserves to be celebrated as one of the most capable and entertaining mainstream MCs of rap’s current era, and it certainly is a treat to see him change his mind about staying retired.
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