Logic: Master of His Craft
If Buzzfeed's 'What Your Name Says About Your Future' generator is correct, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II is destined to be a millionaire. For most, that's a pipe dream, but not entirely unlikely to achieve in the course of a lifetime. For 24-year-old Hall, better known by his stage name Logic, that destiny may very well already be fulfilled or likely will be in the near future. That's because he has a sizable die-hard fanbase that has supported him through multiple sold-out tours and helped him land a major record deal, and he has a big money-making milestone coming up in the not-too-distant future.
It's August 2014, roughly a year and four months since the Maryland wordsmith revealed his signing to Def Jam Records, an announcement that traversed the blogosphere and left many asking, "who is Logic?" Since then, he's released a mixtape and a slew of one-off songs including the most recent buzz-making effort, "Alright" featuring Big Sean. But for the hundreds of thousands of fans that have been lining up behind Logic since long before word of his deal with the house that Rick and Russell built, there's a different question that needs answered: "where is our album?"
The below conversation is with an artist in a blessed, but delicate situation: already affixed into cult stardom, but teetering on the brink of mass commercial success. To be of Logic's stature may seem like the sweet life to many, but from family drama to sample clearances to label matters, getting his debut album out has been far from a stress-free ride.
Your debut album is due later this year. Are you satisfied with its progress so far?
Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, it's been done for six months and I haven't changed anything. In the time since it was finished, I was tempted to go back in because I would find new inspiration. However, I saved that feeling to currently work on the second album. You can't fix something that ain't broke, as they say, so I've just been sitting on the first LP.
How has the creation process differed from your previous projects?
Well, with mixtapes, that was an era in my life where I was on the come-up. I wrote as if the listener was my best friend and I was venting about everything I was going through daily, both good and bad, as a rapper. However, the album is far from that. The album is not about the coming of Logic, it is about the Growing up of "Bobby" narrated by Logic. It is the story of my adolescence and the things I went through that transformed me into the young man I am today. Of course, there's a bit about my experiences in the industry, but 80% of this tale is just about who I am, where I come from and the things I've endured.
Creatively speaking, for you, what is the main difference between working on an album and a song? Do you approach certain songs with an idea that fits with the album, or make the songs first and see if they fit later?
Very good question! I think you definitely just make songs — you don't want to confine your creativity. It's like, I may be really inspired by a Drake melody and want to do something in that lane, but then I'll hear some 36 Chambers and want to do some raw RZA shit instead. I won't tell myself to only do one of them. Why not go the Kanye route? Make the hook a ballad melodically, then switch the key, BPM and tone on the verses, and go raw spitting on the verses. However, with an album, I do think generally you have a bit of an idea going in what you want, but you let each song tell the story as a whole.
You first got into rap through RZA's score of Kill Bill...Is this (scoring a movie) something you could imagine yourself doing? What else would you like to do (outside of music)?
Scoring a movie would be fun; Hans Zimmer is a big inspiration of mine. However, I would rather act in movies than score them and this is something I have a growing passion for (writing and acting in that industry).
But, I feel it best to master one craft before diving into another. It's like when you go on Twitter and see some random chick and in her bio it says, "soul singer/rapper/dancer/student/full-time mom/astronaut/President of the United States" (laughs). Focus on one thing! Then, move on when you are ready.
You've been in the game for a few years now, putting out music independently before announcing your signing to Def Jam last year. Since you started, what's been the hardest part of getting to where you are now?
The hardest part of getting where I am now was signing my deal and putting this album out. And that's no knock to my label Visionary or Def Jam. Getting fans is fun, making music is fun, touring is incredible, but waiting for an album to come out sucks! See, the thing about me is I walked into Def Jam and went, "here!" I played my album and they all clapped and were excited. I told them, "THIS IS IT, THIS IS WHAT WE ARE PUSHING." It wasn't like some new artist with no fans or power sitting in a little chair while a bunch of powerful men shadow over them going, "where's the radio record? The girl record? Make a record like that one song or like that…"
That's why I love my team; we do what we want creatively, no question. That is also why Def Jam is dope, because they don't interfere. The part that sucks is being patient. There are artists out there that don't really sample because if you don't have to clear samples you make more money and things move along quicker. But with me, I didn't want to sacrifice the hip hop feeling of samples for more money, so that's another reason it takes a while.
See, with mixtapes you just make that shit, pick a date and put it out. But I am a major artist on a major label with some of the biggest stars in music, so we have to all agree on the one day in that year where all the power of that building will focus on me and my record.
Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of fans on social media that are constantly asking when the album is coming out or to just drop it already, but they don't know nor do they care what it entails to drop an album. They just want what they want when they want it! Even though it's hard to deal with, it just makes me that much happier that I can't even check my Twitter without being constantly contacted by fans who want to buy my album!
There have been several rappers over the past few years who have generated devoted fanbases online, translated them into profitable touring and eventually, major record deals. You've certainly done it your own way, but what do you think separates you the most from your contemporaries?
My story, my face, my music, my beliefs and how I carry myself. I'm just me. I am inspired by others and am blunt about it, but I am me and I am telling my fans to be them. I out myself; I do not portray myself as perfect. I paint my picture with many flaws in it and I believe that's why my fans relate.
We live in an era where the radio and MTV doesn't work anymore. You can't just shove music down the public's throat and expect people to buy those songs because that's all they know! My fans have utilized the internet and their freedom and they have found me, and I them. They listen to me by choice, not by force, and they will buy MY album because they want to! Because after five years, over four mixtapes and 150 songs for FREE, they want to support! They want to show they are part of a fanbase that will not be stopped and after this album release will be recognized as one of the biggest fanbases in hip-hop!
Your parents have a troubled past. How did this influence your current outlook on life and your craft as a rapper?
The album talks about this a lot in depth. However, I will say I saw what they have done and learned not to follow in that direction and to talk about it instead of hiding from it. My father doesn't like that I speak of him in my story because I have talked about him smoking crack and drinking in the past. The worst part is he doesn't even hear how in these newer songs I've talked about his 'that was then and this is now.' He only hears the negative—he even told me he would sue me for telling my story. I'm sure he was just angry, but the funny part is he had no right to be. I use what I saw and experienced as a tool to heal and help others. He was never there; if anything, I should be the angry one. So, I just choose to focus on those in my life who deserve to be a part of it.
You seem to convey a lot of positivity when speaking to your fans through your lyrics, interviews, social media, etc. What do you hope people take away as the main message in your music?
The main message in my music is 'Peace, Love and Positivity.' It always has been. It is about following your dreams and attaining anything you truly desire, that's it! I wanted to be a rapper, musician and entertainer. Everyone told me I couldn't do it, but I persevered. I was determined, realistic and wanted success more than my next breath! All I hope is that people listen and enjoy the music, for the message or the tone in the music or whatever—I really don't care. Hell, even if people hate it, that's fine as long as they talk about it. The more they talk, the more people are introduced, the more world tours I do, the more money I make to provide for the family I love, the longer I get to survive on this earth and continue spreading that message.