In the first 24 hours after the release of his fifth mixtape, Bobby Tarantino, the project’s announcement garnered over 55,000 retweets and 75,000 likes. Similar to pop artists like Twenty-One Pilots and Imagine Dragons, Logic gets very little coverage in releasing his music, but after looking at his social media stats (nearly one million Twitter followers), it’s clear: Logic is one of the biggest rappers alive.
White kids love Logic. He’s mixed-race, but doesn’t say the N-word, so conservative moms are generally okay with their impressionable adolescent sons listening to him. He’s rarely violent, doesn’t use visceral imagery, and lives in his feelings and experiences as opposed to hedonistic fantasies of drugs and sex. In the right hands, this might be a breath of fresh air; the Exile-produced debuts of Blu (Below The Heavens) and Fashawn (Boy Meets World) are taken from similar perspectives. But those records were so soulful, so charismatic, and so musical that it’s difficult to live up to their greatness. Logic doesn’t need to be those guys, but that’s the only avenue through which I can see him live up to his reputation.
I didn’t really like The Incredible True Story, Logic’s studio debut, but I saw potential in singles like “Young Jesus” which saw him trade bars and generally fuck around over NYC-style production and a bed of self-confidence. On most tracks, Logic is a technically competent rapper, but he didn’t even need it here — his charisma led him to make a great single. Still, the album didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but it did make him far more popular. Now, Logic can’t be ignored.
So he drops Bobby Tarantino, just seven months removed from The Incredible True Story. It’s billed as being a muscular, tough return to form for Logic, which had me excited, as the previous album’s more braggadocious tracks were definitely the project’s highlights. Unfortunately, Logic manages to leave even less of an impression this time around, with unbelievably generic lyrics, production, and themes. At points when listening to the record, I actively had to make myself focus on the music; 6ix’s production is smooth, trap-influenced, and occasionally jazzy, but it never takes any risks.
In fact, being averse to risk-taking seems to be a recurring theme on Bobby Tarantino. Logic manages to check off a laundry list of stylistic cues from across hip-hop’s landscape. Do you appreciate Hopsin’s self-obsessed style, but want it to be less challenging? This record has it. Are the beats on Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late too experimental? This project turns it down a notch. Do you want a better lyricist and flow-creator than Big Sean — but not that much better? Bobby Tarantino is the mixtape for you. It doesn’t help that on top of being generic, the songs are redundant: on two separate occasions, Logic recycles hooks from a earlier in the album, and on another occasion, he just spits the same verse on the second as the first.
Bobby Tarantino has flashes of something that might be okay. Logic discusses his mixed-race background on “Slave”, bringing on a far more confrontational tone than we had heard earlier on the tape. I actually kind of like the full-on trap of “The Jam”, but that has more to do with my appreciation for Chicago bop and Atlanta Auto-Tune than Logic himself. Finally, the interlude “Studio Ambience At Night: Malibu” is actually pretty interesting, and sounds like it could be genuine. But these moments are few and far between, making the record’s brief 33-minute runtime seem twice as long.
I want to like Logic. I really do! He seems like a genuinely good guy, and appreciates his fans as much as any rapper in the game right now. He’s a classic success story, coming from the projects growing up and exploding in popularity seemingly overnight. But his music never breaks any new ground or innovates in any way. For someone to fail to innovate and still make great music means they have to be the very best, and Logic is far from the best in hip-hop. Maybe it’s the extreme non-specificity of Logic’s music that makes him so popular. Like a tumblr screencap, an Odyssey Online article, or the bands I mentioned earlier, he succeeds on being lowest common denominator. By straying away from specifics, Logic appeals to everyone.