After releasing several well-received mixtapes, and gaining a substantial following in the hip-hop community, Maryland rapper Logic has finally released his major label debut, Under Pressure. The album, released via Def Jam, features 12 tracks with no features, a rather unusual practice in modern hip-hop, but one that is rather fitting for a debut album from a rapper with lot to prove. While Under Pressure does deliver, it is not without its fair share of shortcomings.
From the first album’s track, “Intro”, Logic’s skills are very apparent. The song begins with a spacious piano melody, as Logic flows nicely over the beat, implementing a sing/rap style similar to that of Drake. However, the album really takes off on the second track, “Soul Food”. The beat is definitely a stand out on the album, featuring hard hitting drums and mixing instruments with soul samples, in a similar fashion to Kanye West or J. Cole. The song breaks halfway through and changes up the beat, featuring a more minimalistic instrumental with low rumbling bass lines and and soft synth notes. Logic raps about a variety of topics, from his current place in hip-hop, his past, and his aspirations. His lyrical onslaught and breathless flow make this song truly great.
However, the albums next track “I’m Gone” not only is a misstep, but it brings up one of the central problems with Under Pressure: it’s strong similarities to many other recent rap albums. The obvious influence is from Kendrick Lamar’s first two albums, but the album also sounds very similar to J. Cole’s Born Sinner, as well as Drake’s Take Care. Under Pressure rides a fine line of being shaped by it’s apparent influences and nearly copying the current landscape of hip-hop.
The song “Metropolis” uses the exact same drum line from Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me”, a song released only 2 years ago, making Logic’s use of it seem boring and stale. The song’s rather bland lyrics don’t help it either, nor does the corny skit that concludes it. The second half of the 9 minute title track, sounds very similar to Lamar’s “Sing About Me” as well, and uses phone conversations in an attempt to tell a story just as Lamar did.
Despite these flaws, the album is not without it’s share of bright spots. The song “Nikki” is an incredibly personal track, as Logic raps about his relationship with “Nikki”, or as the listener finds out by the end of the song, his addiction to nicotine. “You the only girl I need, I gotta have you back, even though you turn my lungs black” he raps. An intriguing concept, “Nikki” proves to be arguably the best song on the album. The song “Gang Related” provides an intriguing story about gang life, and features one of the more interesting beats on the album. The album’s closer “Till the End” serves as a fitting end to the album as well, featuring piano riffs reminiscent of the intro, and two solid verses from Logic.
By the end of Under Pressure, it’s obvious that Logic is a skilled rapper. He keeps his flows varied throughout the album, and can easily adapt to a variety of styles and speeds. His lyrics are interesting enough, and are at some points great. The album’s biggest problems lie within it’s average production and it’s obvious similarities to other artists and albums. While the beats are layered and suit Logic well, they are all to safe and take a back seat to Logic’s rapping. Despite these flaws, Under Pressure is still a solid debut, and is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of artists such as J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake.
Standout Tracks: “Soul Food”, “Nikki”, “Gang Related”