Sometimes, we find that, in music, less can be more. Take the example of SBTRKT. His 2010 self-titled debut swiftly rose to the forefront of underground electronic music, causing many to label him as one of the industry’s rising producers. His spaced-out, simplistic drum patterns and basses are glittered with colourful synths, creating music that really takes strength from its tiny details. Less, is indeed, more.
With Everybody, Maryland rapper Logic does the opposite.
Infact, more becomes less, as Logic struggles his way through 71 minutes of repetitive, simplistic messages. Veering between topics of mental health, race and equality, Logic tries to call out for prejudice and inequality to end. However, unlike many of his contemporaries, Logic fails to subtly weave his messages into his work. Rather, Logic presents himself as a sort of musical Jackson Pollock, aimlessly throwing messages on top of tracks. Often, these messages fail to even match the theme of the song they’re thrown onto, such as on Take It Back, where an anti-colonial hook jars with Logic’s personal story.
And when these messages do match the song’s lyrics, they still fail to have any meaningful impact. The otherwise lyrical and upbeat Mos Definitely is ended with an entire minute of variations on “Black people, get up, get up”. Whilst Logic’s message is admirable and positive, his delivery of such a message is so simplistic, repetitive and dull that it has no effect.
This kind of gimmick would be catchy on perhaps one or two songs, but such simplistic and safe statements are layered across the entire record, removing any real political effect from the album. 1-800-273-8255’s admirable message against suicide is marred by the hook “I don’t wanna be alive, I don’t wanna be alive, I just wanna die”, which in my opinion sounds like a child’s imagination of how it feels to be depressed. On Anziety, the hook’s repeated “everything is fine, everything is so fine” sounds washed out and bland, and Confess’s eight repetitions of “Give it to me right now” are tiresome.
The album is loosely strung together by conversational skits between God (played excellently by Neil deGrasse Tyson) and Atom, a man who we find out is “everybody”, having been reincarnated as every human to have lived or ever to live. This skit on the title’s opening track is funny and well-written, acting as an effective narrative framework for the album. Unfortunately, the later skits in AfricAryaN and Waiting Room (the track itself being a 4-minute long ‘skit’) don’t hold up – the lines are clunky and uninteresting, with both characters reading from a dull, pseudo-intellectual script.
These skits are complemented by equally disappointing segments of storytelling from Logic himself. Logic’s narrative on Take It Back drags over four and a half minutes, and whilst it’s immediately engaging and personal, it soon shifts to the somewhat contrastingly generic message of equality “regardless of race, religion, colour, creed and sexual orientation”. Despite it being an important message, there is the feeling that it has just been washed over the entire record.
Listening to this album, even for the first time, is frustrating. The most potent messages are those used subtly, in detail, and at a level beyond the surface, perhaps best seen recently in Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 masterpiece To Pimp A Butterfly. Instead, Logic bombards us with surface-level observations, making the album’s message fall flat.
Logic’s message is further undermined by his features. Despite cries to “stop killing each other” throughout the record, on America, we see Black Thought “filling up a bag at the gun club” and Big Lenbo “about to spray the A-K”. Of course, it is arguable that this is because the album centres around presenting different perspectives, but Logic fails to criticise or even respond to such views. This is again seen on Ink Blot, where Juicy J shouts “kill yo’ mothafuckin self”, a poorly placed message considering 1-800-273-8255’s later cries to prevent suicide. These kind of jumbled contradictions litter the album, further detracting from the positive sentiment Logic has hoped to achieve.
Despite this album’s failings, it does have a spattering of fantastic moments. The album’s ending, following on from Logic’s The Incredible True Story, is a nice touch, and marks for a dramatic ending to the work when combined with a surprise verse from J. Cole. Hallelujah is another highlight, bringing energy and drama to the record’s initial stage. Finally, 6ix’s production across the entire record is near-flawless, creating phenomenal beats and instrumental journeys that, unfortunately, go to waste here.
Overall, this album, despite my appreciation of its message, is a total failure. Its jumbled and contradictory perspective jars, its simplistic and surface-level observations are obnoxious rather than inspirational, and its concept falls short in every way possible. Logic’s message is indeed noble, but his execution results in a project that’s destined to fail.