If No Pressure is truly Logic’s curtain call, it’s probably the right time, as the rapper simply rides his familiar cornball swagger here to diminishing returns.
Logic (a.k.a Bobby Tarantino, a.k.a Young Sinatra) is the sort of artist whom it can feel fruitless to criticize, appreciation of his music not exactly running along a spectrum, but a binary; his Hip Hop reverence and geeky “authenticity” inspires either self-serious passion or cringing rejection, and not much else. Logic speaks the same language as his audience, and to his credit, like his one-time collaborator J. Cole, it’s an audience he initially fostered independent of traditional PR or industry backing. But unlike Cole, who has managed to chart territory that could be legitimately described as “his own,” Logic’s success hinges on his relatability above all else. He’s an aspirational figure with an air of accessibility — the hip hop head who actually got to work alongside some of the genre’s most notable voices — but it’s hard to tell if his music is fueled by anything other than a very earnest appreciation of rap music.
No Pressure won’t dissuade one of this suspicion, and as it’s apparently Logic’s retirement album (which is so Bobby), we may not get another chance to decide otherwise. This album serves as a sequel to his first, Under Pressure, and like that one, it’s designed to be pure, unfiltered Bobby, no guests in sight. Executive produced by No I.D. and with appearances from an “AI Assistant” akin to Midnight Marauders’ album tour guide, one immediately understands that this is meant to be a prestige project of sorts. But while this has the shape and dimensions of a rap album in the most canonical sense, Logic’s obsession with writing himself into hip hop history mostly leads him to clichéd bars delivered with some proficiency.
No Pressure does, blessedly, skip out on the sort of laborious genre narrativizing that burdened 2015’s The Incredible True Story and 2017’s Everybody, and the lack of guests is for the best when you consider that Logic has proudly featured Ansel Elgort, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Chris D’Elia in the not so distant past. But without the fanfare of special guests and hard sci-fi theming, the proceedings feel distinctly thin, more like a series of skilled impressions — there’s a song where he sounds like Andre, another where he sounds like Eminem, Q-Tip, Kendrick, etc. — positioned amongst strong production and samples of Orson Welles radio shows (there had to be some sort of gimmick). This sort of approach proves a bit disorienting, transforming the experience of listening to the album into a game of “spot the influence.” If there is anything particularly admirable about No Pressure, it’s in the album’s acknowledgement of Logic’s maturation and recent step into fatherhood (his impetus for early music retirement). In true Bobby fashion, a lot of this is corny — “Heard Em Say” has him bemoaning the fact that Kanye never worked with him, “A2Z” finds him taking on the poignant challenge of assembling the “ABCs” into a cogent rap for his infant son, with “DadBod” summing all that up into a faux-self-deprecating, Macklemorian anthem — but one can admire an artist who knows when to call it a day. Admittedly, It’s hard to buy that this vacation is permanent, but it’s also hard to imagine Logic having much else up his sleeve.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Q3 2020 Issue.