Nirav Desai, staff writer
Throughout the first stage of his career, Logic seemed to check all the boxes of an aspiring rapper who was on the precipice of mainstream recognition. He had established a solid underground following via the Internet, his debut album, “Under Pressure,” earned an encouraging critical response and people, the same people who probably heard about J. Cole and Chance the Rapper before you did, were starting to notice him. Logic’s second album, “The Incredible True Story,” is an appropriately ambitious follow-up effort on the 25-year-old’s part, though his self-solicited comparisons to successful peers in the rap game yield unfavorable results.
The production of the album is immediately impressive, with Logic’s autotuned crooning in the hazy, synth-heavy “City of Stars” forming a balanced contrast with his rapid-fire fire-spitting in “Stainless.” The former was reportedly conceived as a riff off Kanye West’s genre-altering classic, “Flashing Lights,” though it sounds unmistakably similar to the melodramatic fare found in abundance on the typical Drake track, a phenomenon that Martín Caballero of the Boston Globe terms “Drake-jacking.”
Meanwhile, the incisive commentary that can be found throughout the album’s lyrics may initially produce a comparison to the lyricism of Kendrick Lamar’s own 2015 album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” though the comparison proves to be a shoddy one as Logic’s tenacious rhyming lacks the guiding force of a cohesive theme from song to song, an irregularity that did not plague Lamar’s modern masterpiece.
Logic takes no issue with these similarities, telling NPR in November, “That’s fine. Say whatever you want. I used to battle that. It used to be a thing for me like, ‘Oh, man. I’m getting compared to-,’ but nah. No, no, no. The fact that I can tour the world, sell out shows, and people are coming to see me is all that matters. My message is there. That’s all that matters.”
Sure, Logic discusses the hardships of being biracial in America and the frustrating hypocrisies espoused by the online hip-hop community, but neither of these issues make more than a single appearance on the album. Instead, listeners are treated to several “scenes” in which sci-fi characters on a spaceship discuss their journey to Paradise, a planet that serves as a safe haven for humans fleeing an abandoned Earth. The dialogue between these astronauts is sometimes sufficiently humorous in a way that validates the scenes’ inclusion. However, the scenes often give off the feel of cheesy video game cutscenes that try to place more importance on the fictional story of the album than it deserves.
Additionally, these cinematic intermissions usually disrupt the overall flow from one song to the next rather than set the stage for any shifts in tone or subject matter, as they are intended to do. A simple intro and outro, as utilized by Logic in his previous album, would have sufficed. Without any overarching message, the work comes off stylistically as an homage to Logic’s favorite rappers. This motivation would have been better-suited for a single tribute song rather than for an entire album, as it is unlikely to excite consumers enough on its own to move the dial in what should have been a breakout sophomore album for an artist still trying to break into the lucrative circles of mainstream hip hop consumption.