Logic has been a bit of a polarizing figure in hip-hop. The Maryland-born emcee has earned respect but critics have also questioned everything from his integrity to his ethnicity. He’s been praised for his lyricism, his “Young Sinatra” mixtapes and his debut Under Pressure, but he’s been dismissed as a knockoff Kendrick wannabe or a trying-too-hard hipster. He’s never been any of those things, really–and he indicated that his second album would be less preoccupied with catering to the tastes of haters-masked-as-purists. The Incredible True Story, Logic’s sophomore effort, is a sprawling concept album set in a dystopian future. The guest spots this time around are limited to only Big Lenbo, Lucy Rose, and Jesse Boykins III; and Logic has kept the pre-release hype to a minimum–offering intimate listening and not focusing on singles so much as he wants fans to experience the album as a whole.
And as a whole, most of The Incredible True Story works. The story follows refugees from earth, QuentinThomas and William Kai, traveling through space as they head for “Paradise.” The duo’s banter forms the framework of the album, as they decide to throw on an “oldie” and check out the second album from that guy Logic from back in the day. Once the music begins, you’re off with this unlikely pair, listening to pumping soundscapes that sound like they were invented halfway between the trap and the stars.
“Young Jesus” gained the most pre-release buzz, and it features Logic and Big Lenbo rhyming in 90s battle rapper mode over an aggressive, booming production. “City of Stars” is one of the more Kanye-like moments on the album and feels like the project’s centerpiece. Logic has never been unambitious and always told a good story, but The Incredible True Story feels like a major leap forward.
It would serve the rhymesayer well to devote less of his energy to pandering to critics and more to indulging his own interests and tastes. He sounds more assured of himself here than on Under Pressure, even with the more pretentious and overly-grandiose moments. But we’d rather see artists aim high and just miss than play to the lowest common denominator. And, this time around, no one can accuse Logic of doing that.