By Staff Writer Gregory Wu
Renowned rapper Logic released the fourth studio album and entry into the Young Sinatra series, YSIV, on September 28, showcasing his unparalleled lyricism and swift cadence. Despite many tracks running unnecessarily long, Logic’s clever wordplay and optimistic message keep the album from becoming overly monotonous.
The first mixtape in the Young Sinatra series was released more than seven years ago, and Logic has since experimented with many different genres of rap music. He has made great strides in music, and this growth in artistry and exploration is prevalent in YSIV. In the album, Logic takes his sounds back to the “boom-bap” rap of the 90s. While Logic’s previous album Everybody lacked a sense of direction, YSIV excels in its straightforwardness, delivering substantive raps instead of complicated storylines and skits.
Many of YSIV’s tracks make skillful use of sampling, weaving Logic’s older lyrics and hip-hop classics with modern sounds, a homage to his growth. On the title track “YSIV,” Logic samples Nas’s 1994 song, “Life’s a B*tch,” successfully recreating a 90s hip-hop atmosphere while injecting his trademark quick-witted lyricism. Another example is the “The Return,” where Logic utilizes a soothing Nina Simone sample under fast-paced drums and lyrics.
Although both of these songs feature somber, more reserved ambience, they are balanced by the upbeat instrumentals in “One Day” and “100 Miles and Running.” These tracks provide relief from the album’s darker moments, and embody the blissful feeling of summer. Because of this, YSIV’s general atmosphere is refreshing, especially amidst the the wash of largely indistinguishable mumble-rap albums permeating the modern scene.
Of course, the instrumentals laid out in YSIV would not be complete without Logic’s rap verses. Unfortunately, many tracks in YSIV begin with fiery vocals that evoke excitement, but fizzle out near their ends. “Wu Tang Forever,” a would-be thrilling reunion of the iconic 90s rap group Wu Tang Clan, is more than eight minutes long, losing much of its punch factor as it drones on. By the time rapper GZA arrives for the 11th verse, the audience has lost interest. This added length detracts from each song as a whole, leaving listeners with negative impressions of each one. Throughout YSIV, Logic relies upon a fast and exciting cadence, but his choice to create longer songs directly contradicts this style and takes away from the album. More often than not, he ends up creating a jumbled and confusing ending.
Excluding these endings, however, Logic still reminisces about his hip-hop career, painting clear pictures through his lyrics. The topics discussed are vaguely familiar, but Logic switches between them often, adding to his album’s general direction of positivity. The lines “You ever wonder what it means / to make it by any means / and finally attain your dreams?” in “One Day” contribute to the album’s underlying motivational message, just as Logic has achieved his own goals. By using his own experiences as motivation, he is able to form a personal connection with listeners, one that can resonate with anyone. He offers just enough to keep his fans coming back while leaning on the crutches that propelled him to fame, his upbringing.
With such a long project, though, Logic is still bound to repeat himself, interrupting the album’s message. This is most notable in “Last Call,” where he talks casually over the song’s instrumentals for the majority of its length. Although many of today’s artists choose to include these messages, they tend to be short and meaningful. In “Last Call,” Logic simply repeats everything he has already discussed in the album, making it repetitive. The speech could easily be cut from the project.
At its strongest, YSIV’s underlying message is complemented well by Logic’s signature lyricism. He has long been a rapper of great wordplay, and here he gets to display it in full-form: “All these youngins do is whine like they inebriated,” he raps on the title track, a double-entendre on mumble-rap and wine. In “Legacy,” he envisions an entirely new life for himself: “Went to college to gain knowledge / So they would acknowledge me.” Logic’s superb lyrical ability, giving a set of words multiple meanings, continue to be his greatest strength.
As a whole, YSIV captures Logic’s skill as a musician, boasting his trademark fast-paced rapping and lyricism. The 14 tracks allow Logic room to experiment with his rhymes and promote positivity, satisfying new and old fans alike and making YSIV a testament to the years of growth he has experienced.
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