How Logic Scored a No. 1 Rap Album Without Any Hits
Photo by Ryan Jay
It’s rare to watch someone’s dreams unfold in real time. At his six-bedroom, seven-figure estate in the Tarzana hills, Logic reels from news he received earlier this morning. Projected sales for his sophomore album, The Incredible True Story, are 135,000 units, giving him his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B Albums chart.
He did it without radio play, significant promotion, gimmicks, co-signs or a celebrity girlfriend. He’s signed to Def Jam but achieved the unusual distinction of being an underground cult hero and mainstream star at the same time. His fans include Nas, Rick Rubin and RZA, but Logic can still go to the grocery store with-out being mobbed.
“Technology and streaming has changed everything. You can be an underground artist and still very much a real factor in culture,” the Maryland-bred rapper says, reclining on a newly purchased couch.
He just moved here a few months ago, upgrading from a starter home in the flats of the Valley. There’s a pool and a balcony opening up to the Santa Monica Mountains, still smoke-green in late autumn. It’s the sort of view that would make you want to scream “We made it!” so loud, the neighbors complain.
“It’s like Jay Z said: Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t,” says Logic, born Sir Robert Hall II. “Would you rather have billboards and still not sell crazy amounts, or people talking about you, who walk past the billboard and don’t even notice who’s on it?”
His biography reads like a rap reinterpretation of Slumdog Millionaire. Raised in Section 8 housing by constantly feuding and substance-addicted parents, Logic became obsessed with rap after discovering Wu-Tang Clan via the Kill Bill soundtrack.
After dropping out of high school, he worked odd jobs, crashing with the family of a now-incarcerated friend, and on the couch of another friend and collaborator, Big Lenbo.
Discovered by Logic’s manager, Chris Zarou, the pair built a devoted fan base off a series of mixtapes, rooted in Logic’s dazzling technical ability and affinity for gritty ’90s rappers like Big Punisher and Big L. But his audience also saw their own struggles in the biracial rapper’s harrowing backstory and search for identity.
“My fans often say things like, ‘Your music is great or else we wouldn’t listen, but it’s almost secondary to who you are as a person and your message,’” Logic says.
When asked what his message is, he responds immediately: “Peace, love and positivity. Be who you are, and follow your dreams in life.”
This is an admitted cliché — hippie ideals repurposed for hip-hop. But if you spend five minutes with Logic, his sincerity and decency immediately win you over. His epiphanies are born of a brutal past. He neither smokes nor drinks yet avoids the zealotry of those who abstain. At 25, he’s happily married, rich and famous — and seems likely to stay that way.
This story may seem corny. But in a world riven with grotesque violence and racism, sometimes you have to set aside your skepticism and appreciate someone who’s risked everything and succeeded without compromise.
As for today, Logic desperately wants to record, but he’s too exhausted from too many interviews and a cross-country tour meeting fans in their homes. This is his moment. He’s wise enough to relax and savor it.
“I have my wife, my dog, friends surrounding me, and I get to make music,” Logic says. “When I was younger, it was like, ‘I gotta make it, I gotta make it.’ But it’s done. I woke up one day and I did [it]. But there’s no foot off the gas. Tomorrow, I have to wake up and work harder than ever before.”
An L.A. native, Jeff Weiss edits Passion of the Weiss and hosts the Shots Fired podcast. Find him online at passionweiss.com.
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