Two weeks after the left-field announcement of The Incredible True Story, his follow-up to last year’s full-length debut Under Pressure, Maryland rapper Logic has premiered the project’s first single, “Young Jesus”.
Upon its promotion, The Incredible True Story was given the subtitle “a sophomore album and motion picture Sci-Fi epic from Logic”, to which my body instinctively responded with a cringe that reverberated throughout my body for days, like rippling water after a failed stone skip. The whole thing just reeked of lyricist-gets-distracted-by-overly-grandiose-concepts. Not to take away from magnificent hip-hop albums like Deltron 3030, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, or Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, but there’s also shit like T.I. vs. T.I.P and Because the Internet. Where Logic’s 2014 debut Under Pressure succeeded was its directness, honesty, and commitment to the more intricate side of lyricism. Did the second half of the title track sound EXACTLY like Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me”? Sure, it had a deadly trifecta of production, flow, and content lifted straight from King Kendrick. But Under Pressure was a promising release that left me eagerly awaiting Logic’s next move. A full-blown concept album threatens to be a leap where Logic needs a well-calculated step. However, a stand-alone track like “Young Jesus” has the luxury of simple surface judgments about the song’s quality, which, frankly, is all that should matter.
“Young Jesus” is one of the best songs of Logic’s young but prolific career. Less than a year removed from his first album, he sounds completely revamped – more confident, more aggressive, and more comfortable with himself. 6ix’s production gives Logic’s “take ‘em back to the nineties” ad-lib credibility, as the track’s hard-hitting boom bap does invoke a mid-nineties East Coast. The simplified “over here” refrain is certainly nineties as well.
Logic‘s bar trading with Rattpack’s Big Lenbo provides a nice lyrical balance, with both emcees leaning heavily on punchlines and posturing. Shout out to Big Lenbo for the particularly hilarious line “bitches want an autograph, I sign them titties with Crayon”. Seriously though, this fun and highly effective duet makes me wonder if Under Pressure would’ve benefitted from some features to break up its more monotonous moments. “Young Jesus” finds our protagonist all the more confident with a sidekick.
Having heard “Young Jesus”, I will certainly hold off on further premature assumptions regarding The Incredible True Story. Logic is already a noticeably better emcee than the wide-eyed rookie behind his debut album. And if the quality of the rapping and the quality of the music is there, experimentation with concepts and narratives is welcome and even encouraged to a point. Ambition, after all, is what will continue to propel Logic past his peers as long as his lyrical standards are upheld.