Hip-hop music has never been one to shy away from racial issues. From “F**k the Police” (1988) to Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker the Berry” (2015), rap artists have made music that empowers the black community and exposes American systemic racism. However, hip-hop head Tracey Mills wants rappers to take these messages a step further. In a 2017 interview with Ebro in the Morning, Mills expressed his belief that hip-hop is missing “a leader that speaks for all people”, one that says “‘f**k the skin, let’s talk about the soul of the person’”.

Perhaps Maryland rapper Logic is the guy to unite Americans across racial boundaries. As a half-black/half-white man, Logic already straddles that boundary himself. When Logic announced that his third studio album was titled Everybody, I felt as if Tracey Mills’ dreams were coming true. The project’s lead single, “Everybody”, is a feel-good celebration of all people. Logic points out humanity’s commonalities atop a warm yet heavy instrumental with crisp drums and buzzy vocal snippets (“Everybody talkin’ ’bout race this, race that/I wish I could erase that, face facts”). Finally, the rap album that would join people of all creeds, nationalities, and identities was apparently coming.

The album’s opener, “Hallelujah”, features hypnotic vocal splices, twinkling pianos, cinematic string leads, and a pumping rhythmic drive. The song feels a bit cluttered and unstructured, but Logic raps and sings well. He prepares the listener for his radical unifying message, urging them to open their minds. The track is the musical equivalent of the massive gates of heaven parting, and I expected them to reveal some grand overarching statement on humanity.

Instead, they reveal a whole lot of trite nothingness. Musically, Everybody is immaculate. Unfortunately, it’s also a lyrical mess.

The album’s production, primarily handled by 6ix and Logic himself, masterfully blends elements of gospel music, jazz rap, and soul. Many instrumentals incorporate danceable beats, and the result is musical euphoria. The track “Confess” features a joyous piano progression and soulful vocals that weave around Logic’s motormouth raps. Killer Mike delivers a fervent monologue at the end, angrily wailing at God over racial injustices as if at the foot of an altar.

Logic and his producers also utilize the Atlanta trap rap trend to their advantage. “Black SpiderMan” places noisy high-hats and banging bass drums underneath twinkling piano progressions and swirling saxophones. “Take It Back” and “Mos Definitely” successfully juxtapose airy, woozy synths and bouncy trap drums, reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered (2016). Coincidentally, Logic’s flow on the former track is clearly bitten from Kendrick’s “untitled 7”.

A couple of songs ditch the jazz/gospel flavors all together. One of my favorite tracks, “Killing Spree”, employs a grimy, nocturnal trap beat and distorted sub bass. Logic savagely details the human tendency to ignore societal evils (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”).

The hooks on Everybody are equally superb. Logic’s singing voice, albeit aided by a little pitch correction, sounds great on tracks like “Black SpiderMan” and “1-800-273-8255”. The latter song is a breathtaking, heart-wrenching pop-trap ballad in which Logic encourages and empathizes with suicidal fans. Perhaps my favorite melody on the album is the one introduced by Lucy Rose at the beginning of “Anziety”, a bright blast of summery innocence like the sun slipping through closed shades.

Unfortunately, that’s about as good as Everybody gets. The lyrical execution on this album is the basketball equivalent of Logic launching a three-pointer and air-balling. He’s all ambition and no follow-through. Logic spends 75% of this album saying the same three things: 1) He wants you to hear his message 2) Black people hate that he is white and white people hate that he is black, causing him internal conflict 3) Everybody should be equal, including black people. That’s about as deep as it goes. To make matters worse, these themes are explored in an incredibly haphazard and disorganized fashion. Everybody’s thematic flow, or lack thereof, is further interrupted by Logic’s lyrical diversions into suicide on “1-800-274-8255” and anxiety on “Anziety”. It’s almost as if he realized that he ran out of things to say.

Logic has mastered the art of rapping fast over inspirational-sounding beats to disguise the fact that he is spewing surface-level shit. His lack of lyrical substance is painfully apparent on the instrumentally-grand “Black SpiderMan”. Here, Logic’s bars feel like they were ghostwritten by an eighth-grader (“I ain’t here to pick and choose/I ain’t here to sing the blues/I’m just here to spread the clues/I’m just here to spread the news”).

His verses are so padded-out that he uses tedious spoken-word tangents at the ends of the songs “Anziety” and “Take It Back” just to get his point across. To make matters worse, at the end of the latter monologue, Logic seems reach his central piece of advice; he says “Even though we’re all born and created equal/We are not treated equally/There’s extremists on every side/And you should just do your best to live life”. Are you f**king serious?! That’s your message?! Not only is that vapid and obvious, it doesn’t seek to even attempt to incite any sort of change.

My favorite tracks on the album only work because Logic succeeds in sparking some strong emotion through his energetic rapping (anger on the bloodthirsty, boom-bap flavored “America” or disgust on “Killing Spree”, for example). He has nothing profound or creative or remotely thought-provoking to say even on his best songs. On a lot of these tracks, however, Logic says nothing and sounds kinda corny on the mic.

In fact, my favorite thematic moments on Everybody are those that don’t involve Logic at all. I love Black Thought’s politically-charged verse on “America” (“The way they can plead the fifth to the 13th/And stop to search me, controversy”) and J. Cole’s pieces of parting advice for Logic on the closer “AfricAryaN”. Everybody also contains a series of compelling skits, in which God (played by Neil deGrasse Tyson) speaks to a recently-deceased man named Atom. I don’t want to give away the message of these skits, but just listen to the one titled “Waiting Room”. I got chills.

As musically enjoyable as Everybody was, I think Logic bit off a little more than he could chew. He tries to tackle issues of biracial identity, racism, equality, and mental illness, but ends up tackling none of them. Everybody is the wall that Logic threw a ton of paint at and tried to pass off as inspired. Unfortunately, he didn’t fool me.

Grade: C+

Favorite Tracks: Everybody, Killing Spree, America, 1-800-274-8255

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