Maryland-based hip hop artist Logic’s second studio album “The Incredible True Story” is a lyrically heavy concept album that touches on a variety of different themes. His previous album, “Under Pressure” actually debuted at the fourth spot on the Billboard 200 and garnered much critical acclaim. In a year dominated by great hip hop albums, “The Incredible True Story” departs from the current aesthetic of production heavy hip hop, like “Rodeo” by Travis Scott or “At. Long. Last. A$AP.” by A$AP Rocky. Where these albums were impressive through the quality of production, though lyrically weak, Logic’s album is on the other end of the spectrum: the lyricism is astonishing, but it does not meld well with the production. The final product is intriguing, but eventually weighs under the burdens of this aesthetic.
The production is strongly reminiscent of 1990s East Coast rap. Moreover, the production is complementary to the lyricism and Logic’s rapping abilities. While this style is incredibly difficult to pull off, Logic’s flow nails it. His lyricism is astonishing, and the delivery even more impressive. For example, the track “Stainless” is genius in the way he delivers his lines: the song is very up-tempo, and rapping at this speed for extended periods of time is impressive. The song begins with a synth beat that jumps into up tempo kickdrums and high hat. Logic comes out swinging, not missing a single beat, he raps, “Daddy graduate from Cambridge / money talks in every language / real recognize that stainless.” While his previous album, “Under Pressure” had a very strong personal element to it, “The Incredible True Story” is at times more socially conscious.
While this album is a strong album, one of the drawbacks is the weakness in production. The aesthetic that Logic is working with requires the production to be complementary to the rap, but in Logic’s case the concept album does not work without overproduction. Overall, the songs are structured very similarly, to the point where the album becomes repetitive, with the same blend of kickdrums and high-hat. Moreover the samples are culled from very different sources, from Kanye West and Travis Scott to indie-band Grizzly Bear.
Conceptually, the narrative takes place about 100 years in the future or so, and humanity is searching for another habitable planet to sustain life. While this narrative arc sounds like a film out of Christopher Nolan’s notebook, in Logic’s hands it retains a strong personal element. In fact, a similar project by another rapper is Big K.R.I.T.’s “Cadillactica,” which also utilizes the concept album revolving around space. However, K.R.I.T.’s album balances both the rapping element with the production, creating a fuller effect than Logic’s album. Moreover, K.R.I.T.’s album uses lush production in order to further the sci-fi theme of the album, using heavy bass lines and industrial synth sounds to channel a futuristic atmosphere. Logic, however, stays with a more conventional hip hop soundscape, adding chops of dialogue in between the tracks which further the narrative. Most of the songs are fast-paced, with Logic singing most of the hooks.
While his lyricism is incredible, his album does not really live up to much of the critical claim it has garnered. The weakness in production is also compounded on the concept album theme coming across as trite and overwrought. When Kanye West dropped “College Dropout” the skits he added were unique and fresh. However, Logic is about 12 years late to the party, and copying one of the few things that didn’t age as well off West’s early work. Most of the cuts are often trite dialogue which revolve around the narrative.
Logic’s album is an interesting listen, and lyrically has a lot of depth, it leaves the listener wanting more. But unfortunately, the overarching feeling one comes away with is that “The Incredible True Story” is repetitive and gimmicky.
Rating: 3 stars