Def Jam’s newly minted signee Logic dropped his mixtape, Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever, in advance of his debut album coming out this summer. For fans that have watched him progress from his first tracks, this tape will be a welcomed addition to the Logic folder in your iTunes.
At first glance, the track listing and order give it the appearance of the casual hard-drive dump that comes before every official hip-hop album release. And to some extent it is, full of songs clearly put out in this format because of the legal implications behind sampling.
But with the freedom the Internet provides, Logic was able to drop off his best stuff on some of the classics. “Roll Call” sees Logic go in over Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson”, digging deep into his struggles with being both black and white, and the obstacles he faced in hip-hop because of his skin color.
His newfound fame and fortune caused a stir, mainly because of how seemingly unknown he was to much of the hip-hop world. But almost every track on Young Sinatra is an illustration of Logic’s deft lyricism and constant flow innovation.
On “Common Logic Midnight Marauder”, Logic uses the timeless computer voice from Tribe Called Quest’s landmark work to break up the airy beat from C Slick Log as he rhymes:
“This is a letter to the Underground, the place that I’m from.
This is a letter to the fans that understand what I’ve done.
And even though I gotta leave, don’t none of y’all grieve,
Cause even in the mainstream, that lyricism I breath.”
Even with the focus on lyrics, he balances the tape out with well-produced bangers (“On the Low” with fellow XXL freshmen Trinidad James and Kid Ink, “925” and “Ballin”) where he shows he has the ability to make the kind of radio friendly hip-hop that will end up making him a rich man.
But as we’ve seen with the rise of Kendrick, there is still a lot of money out there for the lyricists of the game. There are still too many songs where Logic uses stock rhymes about women and gang banging to put him in the same category as anyone from TDE, but on the tracks where he has clearly kept his nose to the grindstone lyrically, his voracious wit shows.
Maybe we are greedy to expect rappers to give us album worthy tracks for free on mixtapes like this. But this should give his fans, past and future, a clear glimpse at the earnest beginnings of one of hip-hop’s next great lyricists.