The Politics of Logic’s “Everybody”
The beginning of May brought on one of the most hyped up albums of the year by none other than well-established Maryland rapper Logic, well-acclaimed as he entered the mainstream with previous projects such as “Under Pressure” and “The Incredible True Story” which were released just years ago. The album is appropriately titled “Everybody” for its wide range of concepts that practically talk about everybody. From topics like race, colonization, and slavery to mental illness and suicide packed within thirteen tracks, Logic creates a powerful amalgamation of hip-hop and social justice on a never-before-seen level in rap.
“When I started creating this album two years ago, it was before my other album was even out, I was writing, and it just so happened to be that a lot of the subject matter I’m discussing on this album, which is the fight for equality of every man, woman, and child regardless of race, religion, color, creed, and sexual orientation, because I believe that we are born equal, but we are not treated equally.”
To understand Logic’s new musical project, let us understand where he’s coming from.
Logic was born as Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, growing up in Gaithersburg, MD with a black father and a white mother. He spent much of his childhood in West Deer Park, one of the much poorer regions in the state. During his time there, he encountered the harmful activities of drugs and crime, witnessing events such as his parents growing addicted to cocaine and his brothers producing and selling drugs. Hall never graduated high school due to a notorious track record that led to his eventual expulsion. Concurrently with his rough upbringing was his love for rap music that eventually brought him into the underground scene and eventually today’s mainstream spotlight.
We see that he faces a tough intersection between race and class. Growing up biracial puts him in a difficult position that exposes him to critique and prejudice from both his black and white backgrounds. With his father absent most of his youth, he let the streets define his character rather than the examples led by a father figure. Growing up in West Deer Park exposed him to crime at an early age, normalizing harmful behaviors that Hall believed would have killed him had he not entered the rap scene.
“‘What would you do if you weren’t rapping?’ And I say I’d probably be dead or in jail. Because it was in my path to sell drugs, and to run the streets …”
Logic’s “Everybody” is the most complicated project within his discography, and sets a powerful precedent for the politicization of rap music. Though what Logic tries to achieve through rap music is nothing new with well-established artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$ tackling the same topics on works such as “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “ALL AMERIKKKAN BADASS” respectively, there is something intrinsic to “Everybody” that is more directly political: subtlety.
“Everybody”, from my perspective, serves two main purposes for Logic’s listeners, the first being an exploration and understanding of where Logic comes from, the second being a consciousness-raising for the big picture of society and its constituent social interactions that create many of the issues Logic talks about, such as racism and stigmatized mental illness. The political implication? Bringing to light many of these issues through rap music. Logic realizes that his music is powerful and can help people, leading him to create a project with the arduous (but necessary) task of giving everybody a voice.
Logic was right, his music is powerful. With the thousands upon thousands that bought his album during the first week (thrusting him to the top of the charts) came thousands upon thousands who gained a greater understanding of both themselves and everybody around them. There is no mainstream project so innately and purposely political with the difficult task of creating mass consciousness that addresses multiple, if not, all, social locations of Logic’s listeners, and though critics argue there are multiple shortfalls in Hall’s journey to end inequalities, Logic sets a powerful precedent by taking such a risk of further politicizing his music.
With every political movement and advocacy comes debate, and “Everybody” is no stranger. There is widespread controversy over the methodology and sociopolitical implications of “Everybody”, most notably those criticizing the ways in which Logic executes the concepts rather than the concepts themselves. Many argue that the depth and analysis of the concepts are sacrificed in the wake of endlessly repeated bars, songs that simply throw out the concepts rather than taking the time to add true meaning. Though those of different social locations may interpret the merit of Logic’s work differently, there is some truth to those critics. Let us not occupy ourselves with endless critiques of Logic, but rather understand how his work serves as one of many precursors (alongside Joey Bada$$, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and many, many, others) and added foundation to political music.
Let us also center music such as “Everybody” and “ALL AMERIKKKAN BADASS” in discussions on how we can further generate useful strategies for creating more political access and consciousness. With the many controversies of “Everybody” comes dialogue on methodology, useful dialogues that can create new methods for us to eventually lead to the end of inequality. The knowledge generated by listening to political music projects helps build a foundation for greater understanding of the very issues that many of us struggle with creating discussion, paving the way for more insightful conversations that breed better strategies. Soon, we can begin to make the right demands, and do the best we can to secure a greater future for our people.