Def Jam
Def Jam

Logic is consumed by his love for nostalgia and YSIV is his personal and myopic monument to a bygone era. Across 14 tracks, the Maryland rapper is obsessed with the idea of "boom-bap”—a phrase he uses excessively.

During the album, Logic raps about taking it “from the trap to the boom-bap,” gloats how he does “it for the boom-bap, the trap and the radio” and laments, “If I spit over the boom-bap, then they perceive it as nostalgic/But the truth is, my subject matter has been the same.” Therein lies the problem.

The DMV lyricist is a gifted technician still selling the same stories—his journey from poverty to wealth, coming to terms with his biracial identity, and why he deserves more respect within and outside of hip-hop—without including any new layer of personal depth. YSIV is a cloying album, which features Logic pointing at an amorphous idea of the past, but avoids adding anything artistically transformative to his worship of it.

The term boom-bap describes a form of hip-hop production that was prominent throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. Some credit the phrase’s creation to T La Rock’s 1984 song “It’s Yours,” but it was KRS-One, DJ Premier and Pete Rock who helped turn Rock’s adlib into a musical classification. “The ‘boom’ is the kick drum and the ‘bap’ is the snare," KRS told Red Bull Music Academy in 2013. "Boom-bap is a style of music where the drums are highly emphasized, even exaggerated and distorted.” As time passed, the words devolved into a classist catch-all term for “real hip-hop,” which itself is a meaningless phrase and the one at the heart of Logic’s latest project.

YSIV succeeds when it forgoes pretentious views on what hip-hop should be and instead focuses on what makes the self-proclaimed Young Sinatra unique. The trio of “Everybody Dies,” “The Return,” and “The Glorious Five” feature the Everybody MC at his most fluid and nimble. Logic’s defining trait is the way he can find and exploit the various layers and textures of a beat. Where his lyrics generally lack nuance—looking at you “Fuck a mumble let's make America rap again”—his flow and delivery pick up the slack.

“The Adventures of Stoney Bob” featuring Kajo, Slaydro, and Big Lenbo and “One Day” featuring Ryan Tedder are the album’s most significant missteps. Logic finding a passion for smoking weed is fine, but rapping, “For shizzle my nizzle, I feel like D-O-double Gizzle on this grizzle, my nizzle/Put the greenery on the grill and let it sizzle, my nizzle/It don't matter the season Bobby let it burn when it drizzle,” is not. Similarly, the saccharine “One Day” is a glaring addition to the tracklist, even if Logic is the latest racially ambiguous pop-rap star to steal America’s hearts.

Logic is a talented rapper and YSIV shows growing signs of self-awareness. Reuniting Wu-Tang Clan for “Wu Tang Forever” is novel. Re-interpreting Kanye West’s 2004 The College Dropout closer “Last Call” for his song of the same name is potentially exciting for the portion of his fan base too young to remember the source material. There is nothing wrong with honoring one’s idols. Unfortunately, Logic spends so much time focusing on trying to bring back the past that he struggles to add anything captivating enough for the present.

Here Are the Best Projects Released From 104 Past and Present XXL Freshmen

More From XXL