Concept albums are often a substantial sacrifice to commercial success. If an artist’s impulse to explore a certain idea outweighs their desire to make simpler songs with less context, that are a better fit for their brand, the album may not grab the popularity that a less complex album could have. For some people, the idea and passion that ties a project together may be enough to excuse a lesser quality of music. For others, having an exceptional concept isn’t enough to uphold an otherwise lackluster album. Logic’s Everybody, his third studio album and his seventh musical project released in the past seven years, should be enough to satisfy, if not please, both sides.
The album pimarily focuses on the experiences of Atom, a man who died in a car accident. Toward the end of the opening song “Hallelujah,” Atom has a conversation with ‘God,’ voiced by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and learns that he’s in a purgatory-like state. During one of their later exchanges, we learn that Atom cannot move on to the next state of being without living the life of every single human being who has ever existed. Atom’s multitude of lives serve as the basis for Logic’s shifting perspectives throughout the tracks. Mirroring the way in which Atom sees life through different lenses, Logic spends a sizeable chunk of the album rapping as a person with experiences different from his own.
A prime example of this is on “Confess”, where he raps as a man who breaks into a church and starts to repent. The song works well because of the relatability of the situation; most of us have had hard times, and through speaking on someone’s else’s experiences, Logic makes a bigger statement about how we’re all connected. Though it may seem like a simple message for an intricate concept, the album is spreading peace and equality through sonically forcing people into one another’s shoes.
The album could do more to cover a wider variety of perspectives, instead of focusing mainly on the lives of the marginalized, only because ‘everybody’ doesn’t just encompass the people who are seemingly on the losing side of society. We get a touch of this when Tyson tells Atom that he will be reincarnated as Bryan Fairfax, the 8th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who owned hundreds of slaves. Still, getting an entire song from Fairfax’s point of view would bolster the scope of the concept. Logic focuses on embodying people who he himself relates to, which is fair, for he can stick to, and excel at, speaking on what he knows.
Alas, it is still a Logic album, and he still takes the time to rap about time as a biracial adolescent growing up in Maryland. On “Take It Back,” he spends the entire track speaking about himself in third person, detailing the struggles that he endured. “The kids at school callin’ him a cracker/Identifying as black, looking as white/Being told what you can or can’t be/This kid went through everything,” he says, speaking about his own childhood. Though the song isn’t bad, it feels too self-centered in an album that isn’t supposed to be about the ‘self’ at all, but people as a whole.
When Logic says “I’m just as white as that Mona Lisa/ I’m just as black as my cousin Keisha/ I’m biracial so bye Felicia” on “Black Spiderman”, he displays the same pride that he has in his identity while using up less time. Still, both songs have their high points, and are worth listening to, to get a better sense of Logic’s past and present.
A few songs on the album stand out not just for their quality of sound, but for the social messages that Logic was able to weave in. On “Killing Spree,” he delves into the egotistical and hypocritical culture of social media with lines including: “Real shit goin’ on in Lebanon/But I don’t give a fuck my favorite show is coming on/Hashtag pray for this, pray for that/But you ain’t doing shit, get away from that”. On “1-800-273-8255,” he works with Alessia Cara and Khalid to portray a conversation between a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a person on the verge of committing suicide. The mellow vibe that the song’s production engenders matches well with the hopeful tone that the lyrics have by the end.
All in all, Everybody is a thought-provoking release that is only slightly held back by the grandiosity of its own ideas. The conversations between Atom and ‘God,’ J. Cole’s ‘secret’ verse in “AfricAryan,” and the talents of the other featured artists only add to what is an overall solid project. Even if you aren’t a fan of it upon your first listen, the passion that Logic has for spreading his messages is evident through the music, and it is something to be admired.
Jonvi Rollins is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]