On Oct. 21, 2014, Bobby Hall, better known as Logic, showed the world he’s at his best when he’s “feeling under pressure.”
Under Pressure, the 15-track debut album from the Maryland-based rapper, followed up five mixtapes, three of which were the first parts of his impeccable Young Sinatra series. Five years later, Logic has skyrocketed to fame and gradually become one of the most recognizable names not only in rap — but the entire music industry.
Two more mixtapes and five albums later, including a genre-defying soundtrack, Supermarket, which accompanied Logic’s debut book under the same name, Under Pressure remains untouchable. Since his hit song “1-800-273-8255” earned him a Grammy nominee and made him a household name, Logic has risen to the occasion, consistently releasing music without completely losing the spark that engraved his name into the list of the greatest ever.
His debut LP, however, holds 15 flawless, inimitable tracks that embody the textbook definition of authenticity. “Driving Ms. Daisy (feat. Childish Gambino)” somehow perfectly conveys the feeling of realizing you’re struggling but attempting to getting past it and focusing on what’s to come. “Gang Related” takes listeners back to Logic’s childhood when he experienced severe violence, and it gives an insightful glimpse into why people fearfully join gangs. “Soul Food” discusses his transition from a lowly, struggling kid into the genuine artist he is continuously evolving into. Even now, the tracks are mainstays for people who are struggling, especially aspiring musicians, everywhere.
Here are the best five songs from Under Pressure:
With a steady, infectious drum beat and bass line, “Metropolis” imparts Logic’s mindset as he adjusts to fame. He’s learning to go through life taking risks and doing whatever he can to demonstrate that he’s chosen to be a real, upfront artist who isn’t worried about proving himself: “Yeah, yeah, living like I’ve been ready to die / Maybe not; I don’t know why my mind is changing / … Yeah, and I know that ain’t nobody finna ever be ahead of me / All that competition right there is dead to me.” A skit, guided by a saxophone, cello and violin, fades out the track, which helps it establish itself as one of the most melodically distinct rap songs out there.
Quite obviously the opening track of the album, “Intro” is inspirational, heartwarming and perfectly encapsulates what to expect as listeners voyage through the album. Logic advises to look past life’s tribulations, no matter how hard they can be, and find a way to be optimistic: “I’ma get up today / I don’t know how, but I’ma find a way.” A choir joins Logic to help communicate a simple yet touching message: “You can really do anything.” The gorgeous piano and violin exemplify the track’s delightful nature and overall message.
No, “Nikki” isn’t about Logic’s hopeless love for some girl named Nikki. It’s an incredibly descriptive track that depicts his dependency on something with a very similar pronunciation: nicotine. Logic sounds his most vulnerable here, tricking listeners into thinking he’s talking about a girl by implicitly discussing Nikki as the love of his life: “You’re the only girl I need; I gotta have you back / Even though you turn my lungs black (lungs black) / Tell me where you been, Jack (been Jack).” Finally, surrounded by gorgeous violins, Logic reveals he’s “a slave for the nicotine,” and Logic’s genius will settle in if it hadn’t already.
2. “Under Pressure”
Surpassing nine minutes, the title track, “Under Pressure,” compresses the themes of the entire album into one long yet coherent track. It includes a plethora of powerful voicemails, backed by a catchy piano riff and trap beat, from just about everyone in his family. Logic explains his come up from a kid with parents who mistreated him into a successful musician with supposed friends who just want favors. He apologizes for being reserved and away, but he now has everything he dreamed of as a struggling child: “They say family is everything; I swear that s--- the truth / I should spend it with y’all, but I spend it in the booth / This is everything I love; this is everything I need / Never sacrifice this feeling even though my heart bleed.”
1. “Buried Alive”
All of the discrete vocals and production on “Buried Alive” come from Logic himself, and if that isn’t impressive enough, he created the whole song on a whim early in the morning. The track is a conversation between Logic and his therapist, as Logic seems to tackle every unanswered question in his life: “Tell me how you feel (tell me how you feel) / I feel like the grass is green, and everything I do is unseen / But I know that’s just in my mind / I know everything is just in my mind.” The guitar line and violins are some of the most compelling out there, as they both help “Buried Alive” epitomize Logic’s creativity and innovation on undoubtedly the best track on Under Pressure.