Columbus MC Illogic’s catalog is a deep one, mostly stockpiled with bars reminiscent of rap’s golden era. His lyrics easily double as poetic verses as he maneuvers his way through heavy topics—building a lasting relationship with God, being a good role model for his kids, life after marriage. But when paired with his aggressive freestyle-battle roots, he manages to not come across as the preachy, “conscious rapper”. Those elements are sharpened on his newest album, a collaborative effort with producer Blockhead (best known for his work with Aesop Rock)—Capture The Sun.
The album’s brightest spots are when Illogic’s at his most vulnerable. “Bridges”, a short offering (a minute and a half), chronicles his most trying moments, which span from his introduction to fatherhood, having an absentee father and being diagnosed with cancer as a baby. “See I’ve been marked for death since the womb/ Umbilical chord around my neck I barely made it out/Plus they found cancer in my retina when I was two/Became a Cyclops but saw clearer than everybody else/Didn’t understand my blessing, thought it was a curse,” he says. On “Finally Free” Blockhead samples Le Systeme Crapoutchik’s “All I Have” (as Kid Cudi did in “My World”) while Illogic details an ill-natured relationship that leads a woman to suicide in order to escape an abusive boyfriend. The album’s highlight, “Last Breath (Family Fabric)” is a tribute to his parents where he thanks his mom for staying strong throughout the early stages of his cancer and shaping him as a man. He also thanks his stepdad for being in his corner: “Treated me equal to my brothers, though I wasn’t your child/Took the weight on your shoulders most men couldn’t bench/You embraced it, laced it from the love to the discipline”.
Despite its mind-twisting subject matter and weighted themes, Capture The Sun has a major flaw—its sound. An all-too-familiar issue with conscious brands of rap is that they sometimes sound like they’ve missed their mark on hip-hop’s timeline. Illogic’s appeal is valuable, in that, he maintains a voice for the “every day” man—being a good dad, looking within for inspiration & strength, and building a good family base at home. The subject matter and lyrics are solid, but Blockhead’s sound isn’t current or weird enough to be engaging like his 2009 instrumental album The Music Scene. Tracks like “Neva Heard”, “Justified” and “She Loves Me” could all believably be from a decade ago. That production could be the barrier that keeps Illogic from garnering new and younger listeners, which by delving into the introspective nature of his music, could be fine by him.—Lawrence Burney (@TrueLaurels)