With 2017’s Everbody, Maryland rapper Logic was quickly elevated from mere rapper to pop-star status with his chart-topping radio single “1-800-273-8255”. A song that was the introduction to many of Logic’s ever-emerging fanbase. While the album was a huge commercial success, it was received in a very lukewarm manner from critics and his fans. After putting out a second entry into his trap-influenced Bobby Tarantino mixtape series, fans were treated to a video of Logic freestyling and simultaneously announcing his newest album, YSIV or Young Sinatra Four. The name “Young Sinatra” is one that many Logic fans know it as the series of mixtapes that cemented him as an underground rap icon.
YSIV is the Maryland emcee’s best album since his 2014 debut, Under Pressure. Logic’s return to the Young Sinatra label is an interesting one seeing as how he has put out three albums and two mixtapes since the last entry in the original mixtape series back in 2013. While it doesn’t quite stand up to those early tapes, YSIV proudly sits among the best in Logic’s discography and certainly of the year.
On the surface, YSIV doesn’t deviate too far from the general framework of Logic’s previous albums, but it avoids most of the pitfalls his latest bodies of work. No one can ever debate Logic’s technical ability on the mic. He is one of modern hip-hop’s best, there’s no debate there. It’s almost expected at this point. Upon further examination of the last few records, the most egregious sins that Logic commits is being tone-deaf, preachy, and surface level. This is the most present on his last album, Everbody. An album that definitely had good intentions at its core, but its message of equality was very basic and never dove into the complexities of acquiring said equality. One word was associated with the album, “corny”.
Thankfully, YSIV doesn’t go down that route and ops for a vibe that emulates the boom-bap style of Logic’s Young Sinatra mixtape series. The production is very much reminiscent of the golden age of hip-hop from the late 80s to the 90s and it’s absolutely stellar. Logic pays homage to the greats like the A Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z, Big L, The Roots, and the Wu-Tang Clan, who stars on the album on an eight-minute long posse cut that will make any old hip-hop head drool. YSIV also samples the track “Life’s a Bitch” from Nas’ immortalized album Illmatic. On these beats, Logic feels like a veteran who has been rapping for decades and it’s ear candy for any old Logic fan. “Everybody Dies, The Return, 100 Miles and Running, and The Adventures of Stoney Bob” are other examples of said ear candy.
One weapon that Logic brings out his arsenal on YSIV is the ability to stories. On Under Pressure, he was able to craft a captivating narrative about his upbringing and how the environment that bred him into who he ending up becoming. The self-titled track and “Street Dreams II” are prime examples of this. The latter track, which is a sequel to an unreleased track that he dedicated to passed Harlem rapper Big L, is a fictional tale about him robbing a store and committing a series of other crimes. Logic tells this story in such a vivid manner that it’s nothing short of enthralling.
When Logic goes in detail about situations about his own personal life and mindset, he shines like no other in his class. Tracks like “Legacy”, “YSIV”, and “Last Call” are some of the rapper’s best in years. On “Legacy”, Logic daydreams about what if he was a family man who is questioning what he will be remembered for. It’s an interesting concept track, albeit a bit cliche. What makes this song so great though is how Logic parallels this fictitious man with his own career.
As he says,
These haters got me questioning my judgment
Tried by a jury of my peers, but where the judge went?
What will my legacy be?
Who will my enemy be?
Most of the tracks on YSIV stick their landing, but a few fall into those traps. One of the lead single’s, “One Day” featuring Ryan Tedder of One Republic, feels like an Everybody B-side. Again, this track has good intentions and the message that the track presents is a good one. However, the song is so sterilized and clearly meant for those people who came in during the wave of “1-800-273-8255”. It also feels extremely out of place in the album’s tracklisting as the excellent Wu-Tang posse cut succeeds it. The track “Ordinary Day” also is prey to this. There is also an issue of track length as well that can make some songs feel like a slog occasionally.
Flaws aside, YSIV feels like a return to form. Although it is the last entry in the Young Sinatra series, Logic was able it off with an album that soars over many of his earlier albums. Between the excellent production, technical ability, and lyrical subject matter, Logic was able to craft a solid piece of work that cements him as one of rap’s current heavyweights. While it’s uncertain what he has to come down the pipeline next, those of us in the Rattpack will be on the edge of our seats in anticipation.