Under Pressure (album)

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Under Pressure
Logic Under Pressure 9.10.14.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 21, 2014 (2014-10-21)
Recorded2013–2014
Studio4220 and Logic House (Los Angeles, California)
GenreHip hop
Length56:23
Label
Producer
Logic chronology
Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever
(2013)
Under Pressure
(2014)
The Incredible True Story
(2015)
Deluxe edition cover
Logic - Under Pressure (Deluxe Edition).jpg
Singles from Under Pressure
  1. "Under Pressure"
    Released: September 15, 2014
  2. "Buried Alive"
    Released: October 14, 2014

Under Pressure is the debut studio album by American rapper Logic. It was released on October 21, 2014, by Def Jam Recordings and Visionary Music Group. Development and composition of the album began in 2013, with recording taking place during a two-week span at the beginning of 2014. The album's production was primarily handled by No I.D., with smaller contributions from a variety of record producers, including 6ix, DJ Dahi, DJ Khalil, S1, Jake One and Dun Deal. The standard edition of the album contained no guest appearances; Big Sean and Childish Gambino were featured on the tracks "Alright" and "Driving Ms. Daisy" respectively on the album's deluxe edition.

Logic sought to create an album that would stand out as "beautiful, musical and melodic" while also including "raw lyricism". In order to establish his desired sound, his lyricism is heavily introspective, analyzing himself by exploring his ambivalent outlook on his newfound fame, his family, feelings of self-consciousness, success, and his struggles with addiction. His goal was to provide an autobiography which explicitly detailed the scenarios and experiences that impacted him during his rise in the music industry. The album was supported by two singles: "Under Pressure" and "Buried Alive", each focusing on Logic's struggles both due to and aside from his musical career.

Under Pressure received generally positive reviews from critics, drawing particular attention to Logic's bluntness in his storytelling, its perceptive lyricism, and the album's toned-down production, resembling the ever-changing production of rap and hip hop releases of the 1990s. The album debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200, selling 72,000 album-equivalent units in its first week.

Background[edit]

Between 2010 and 2013, Logic released four free mixtapes online and funded his own tours, through which he built his fanbase and reputation.[1][2] According to Logic, the largest contributing factor to his rise to stardom was that he "hit the road and actually saw [the fans] face to face and shook their hands."[3] He signed with Def Jam five months after the release of his Young Sinatra mixtape in 2011; a deal kept secret until 2013 because he "didn't want the fans to be like, 'Oh, he's going to change!'"[4] Logic has metaphorically described Def Jam as his "bank", which does not interfere with his creative control or deal much with his publicity.[5] Visionary Music Group, an independent label run by Logic,[6] managed and funded his audio mixing, mastering, touring, and commissioning of album art.[2]

In 2013, Logic moved to Los Angeles to work on his debut album with Def Jam's No I.D.,[2] a mentor he later compared to Yoda.[7] Several people advised Logic to make the album more personal than his mixtapes, inspiring him to write about his difficult upbringing in Gaithersburg, Maryland.[1] On the advice of Don Cannon, he chose to maintain the album's personal theme by omitting guest appearances.[8] Its title Under Pressure reflects the challenges of Logic's private life and rap career, while also referencing his belief that the album is "his diamond", as diamonds are formed by pressure.[8] His prior mixtapes had dealt heavily with his biracial heritage, but he changed his focus from race to culture on the album.[9] Rather than go "the radio route" with Under Pressure, Logic wanted to create a classic hip hop album in the style of Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Big Daddy Kane, Kanye West and Big L. To help new listeners understand that his roots lie in this music, Logic tried to make Under Pressure more consistent and more quintessentially hip hop than his mixtapes, which he found incohesive.[8][10] Although he admitted to emulating other rappers on his earlier releases, he believed that the album would finally crystallize "the sound of Logic".[7]

The album artwork was painted by Sam Spratt, an artist based in New York City. He was asked to depict the basement of Logic's friend Big Lenbo, where Logic had lived and recorded early in his career. Using photographs taken at that time for reference, Spratt painted a detailed reproduction of the space. The artwork's "half dark[,] half bright and beautiful look" symbolizes the two sides of Logic's life.[10] Spratt wrote that he collaborated heavily with Logic to make the album's narrative "sync up on the art side".[11] The title and track list on the album art were hand-written by Big Lenbo.[12]

Composition and recording[edit]

For Under Pressure, Logic drew inspiration from a variety of sources, ranging from Quentin Tarantino films to the music of hip-hop artists and groups such as Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest and Kanye West.

While Under Pressure's development spanned several years, it was recorded in roughly two weeks.[13] Recording locations included No I.D.'s studio and Logic's home, both in Los Angeles, and hotel rooms where Logic stayed while touring.[14] No I.D. served as executive producer and exercised high-level oversight of the album, utilizing a loose management style that Logic compared to that of Quincy Jones. Although Logic found No I.D.'s advice and connections to be critical to Under Pressure's quality, he later clarified that "it was me and [Visionary Music Group producer] 6ix who created this entire album."[6] During the album's development, Logic regularly watched Quentin Tarantino films and listened to A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast and Red Hot Chili Peppers.[15] Other influences on the album include Kanye West's Late Registration and Graduation, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Kendrick Lamar's song "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst".[9]

The first track to be composed was the nine-minute "Under Pressure", which Logic wrote and self-produced while on tour with Kid Cudi. After returning to the studio to work on the song in Pro Tools, an error caused a sample of Eazy-E's "Eazy-Duz-It" to play over aggressive drums, which Logic decided to use as an opening half to "Under Pressure". Live instruments such as guitars and cellos were then added. The two-halves of the track came to represent "the duality of man", as Logic rapped from the perspectives of both his hip hop persona and his everyday identity as well as those of his sister and his father. The resultant song would "set the tone for the rest of the album", according to Logic.[9]

Opening track "Intro" was initially based on a sample from the song "Aeroplane (Reprise)" by Wee, which Logic and 6ix had heard in Kanye West's "Bound 2". However, technical issues forced them to interpolate the sample. Work on track two, "Soul Food", began when Logic found the song's instrumental hosted on SoundCloud by rapper and producer Alkebulan. Logic obtained permission to use the track and polished it with his team. After they were unable to clear or interpolate a key sample, DJ Khalil was recruited to recreate it. The song's second half consists of production from 6ix which had been recorded a year before the rest of the track. "Intro" and "Soul Food" were placed together at the beginning of the album to create a jolting transition from a "beautiful and musical and melodic" song to "six minutes of raw lyricism".[9]

For "Buried Alive", Logic selected one of 20 instrumentals given to him by Dun Deal, adding backing vocals recorded by Big Lenbo as well as additional drums. DJ Dahi provided several potential instrumentals for "Never Enough", and the "skeleton beat" Logic selected was built with interpolations of "So Fresh, So Clean" performed by Outkast and "Pursuit of Happiness" performed by Kid Cudi. "Growing Pains III", the third installment of Logic's "Growing Pains" trilogy, was produced by TDE's Tae Beast and 6ix. In the song, Logic speaks on his early life and the difficulties he experienced while growing up in his household. "Metropolis", a Rob Knox and Logic co-production, features an interpolation of Bill Withers' "Use Me" designed to add "thump" to the original song's drumming. "Nikki" samples Jeff Beck's "Love Is Green". The name "Nikki" is referenced in previous songs on the album, personified as a very close female until it is revealed that Nikki is an abbreviation for nicotine.[16] The title track is the first single for the album and is produced by Logic himself. The song samples Eazy-E's "Eazy-Duz-It" and Grant Green's "My One and Only Love". The 9-minute, two-part track is widely viewed as the centerpiece of the album by critics and fans alike. In the first part, Logic speaks on his success and his compulsion to give back to those who helped him build his career, while the second part is him lamenting losing touch with his family as a result of success and finding out how proud they are of him. The album's closer, "Till the End", was the last to be composed and recorded. Husband-and-wife team The Frontrunners and producers S1 and M-Phazes contributed to the song's instrumental. Upon hearing the mastered version of the album, Logic reportedly cried, as it proved to him that he had succeeded despite his troubled upbringing.[9]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Growing up there were guns in the house, my brothers were out selling crack. I grew up on Section 8 housing, food stamps, welfare, and dealing with social services. I never had a Christmas, I never had a birthday.

– Logic[9]

The album's autobiographical lyrical content detail Logic's life.

Under Pressure details Logic's life story beginning with his childhood in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and he has described its content as "extremely, extremely dark".[4] Logic conceived "Gang Related" after watching Boyz n the Hood. Logic considered it to be "a gangster record" that subverts the glorification of violence common in hip hop by describing the criminal activities and corresponding violence that had surrounded him as a child, while showing that he chose a different lifestyle. After completing the first verse, he was blocked on the lyrics for ten days, until he thought to rap from the perspective of his brother who had dealt drugs in Logic's youth. His brother agreed to the idea and provided him with stories from the period.[9]

While on tour with Kid Cudi, Logic received numerous voicemail messages from his family, which he "transcribed damn near word for word" and converted into rhyming lyrics. As a fan of hip hop braggadocio, Logic was initially uneasy about the results, but he chose to push forward with the idea. "Never Enough" was written as an "ignorant" track with a hidden meaning: it discusses the pleasures of "money, bitches, drugs [and] partying" but declares them insufficient for living a fulfilling life. Logic wrote "Till the End" about his difficulty breaking into the mainstream.[9]

Promotion[edit]

Singles[edit]

The first single from the album, "Under Pressure", was released on September 15, 2014,[17] with a music video released on October 9, 2014.[18] The album's second single, "Buried Alive", was released on October 14, 2014.[19]

Other songs[edit]

The album's first promotional single, "Now", was released on April 8, 2014.[20] The album's second promotional single, "Alright", was released on April 23, 2014 and features a guest appearance from American rapper Big Sean.[21] The album's third promotional single, "Driving Ms. Daisy", was released on August 27, 2014. The song features a guest appearance from American rapper Childish Gambino.[22]

Performances[edit]

On November 13, 2014, Logic performed "I'm Gone" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, with The Roots as his backing band.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic72/100[24]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[25]
Exclaim!9/10[26]
HipHopDX4.5/5[27]
RapReviews9/10[28]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[29]
Sputnikmusic1.0/5[30]
XXL4/5[31]

Under Pressure received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 72, based on eight reviews.[24] Sheldon Pearce of HipHopDX found a lot of depth in the album's storytelling saying "There are a great many moments that make Under Pressure feel like a feature film about Logic's life, and when at its best, it is creating that sort of imagery."[27] AllMusic praised the production and Logic's storytelling throughout the album saying, "Under Pressure is an autobiographical and odds-beating debut that arrives more fully formed than expected."[25] Erin Lowers of Exclaim! said, "Under Pressure finds Logic breaking out as an all-star emcee, raising the bar higher than anyone could've predicted."[26] Clara Wang of RapReviews said, "When nostalgic old-timers lament the golden age of hip-hop, for those championing our current era, Under Pressure is the album to point to."[28]

Eric Diep of XXL was compelled by the lyricism throughout the album, concluding with "Filled with persistent rhymes about his grind, it's a final warning that he's not going anywhere. For Logic, alleviating the pressures of critical acclaim just got easier."[31] Christopher R. Weingarten of Rolling Stone said, "This album is all surface-level, free of sharp punch lines ("I been Hungary like Budapest") or metaphors that connect."[29] In a negative review, a staff reviewer from Sputnikmusic said "It's not a verbatim copy of Kendrick's work, but it's every bit the stylistic counterfeit, and while it, along with the other mentions above, could be seen as imitations done in reverence had they been released on a free mixtape, their use on an album is no doubt a calculated effort to profit off of the ideas and work of another who did it first, in an attempt to capitalize on the ignorance of those listeners who may not know better." He did, however, continue by saying, "Outside of these disgusting faults, Logic's album isn't a bad effort at all, with few truly dull moments and good production and rapping from front to back."[30]

Year-end lists[edit]

Under Pressure was listed at number 45 on Complex's 50 best albums of 2014[32] and number six on Vibe's list of 46 best albums of the year.[33] HipHopDX ranked it among the top 25 albums of 2014.[34]

Commercial performance[edit]

Under Pressure debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200, selling 72,000 album-equivalent units in the United States.[35] It also debuted at number two on both the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the US Rap Albums charts, respectively. As of October 2015, the album has sold 197,000 copies in the United States.[36] In October 2016, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for combined sales and album-equivalent units of over 500,000 units.[37]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[38]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Intro"6ix3:02
2."Soul Food"
4:52
3."I'm Gone"4:42
4."Gang Related"
6ix2:47
5."Buried Alive"5:37
6."Bounce"4:04
7."Growing Pains III"4:06
8."Never Enough"
4:22
9."Metropolis"
  • Hall II
  • Robin Tadross
  • Rob Knox
  • Logic
4:55
10."Nikki"
  • Logic
  • 6ix
3:23
11."Under Pressure"
Logic9:19
12."Till the End"
  • Hall II
  • Griffin, Jr.
  • Landon
  • Diondria Thornton
  • Christopher Thornton
  • S1
  • M-Phazes
5:14
Total length:56:23

Notes

  • "Intro" and "Buried Alive" features additional vocals by Patty Crash and The Frontrunnaz (Diondria Thornton and Christopher Thornton)
  • "I'm Gone" features additional vocals by Jessica Andrea
  • "Growing Pains III" and "Never Enough" features additional vocals by Patty Crash
  • "Metropolis" features additional vocals by Jessica Andrea, Patty Crash and The Frontrunnaz
  • "Under Pressure" features additional vocals by Ill Camille
  • "Till the End" features additional vocals by The Frontrunnaz

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[38]

Instrumentation

  • Kevin Randolph – synths (tracks 1, 2), bass line (track 1), pads (track 2), piano (track 11)
  • Steve Wyreman – guitar (tracks 1, 5, 9, 10–12), piano (tracks 1, 3, 11), organ (track 1), lead guitar (tracks 1, 3), synth (track 2), bass line (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9), bass (track 11)
  • Tom Lea – violin (tracks 1, 5, 9, 10–12), viola (tracks 1, 5, 9, 10–12)
  • Claire Courchene – cello (tracks 1, 5, 9, 10–12)
  • Dylan – synth (track 1)
  • Terrace Martin – saxophone (tracks 7, 10)

Technical

  • Bobby Campbell – recording (all tracks), mixing (tracks 1–13)
  • Ron Kinelski – recording (tracks 14, 15)
  • Casey Cuayo – recording assistant (tracks 14, 15)
  • David Baker – mixing assistant (tracks 14, 15)
  • Dave Kutch – mastering (all tracks)

Additional personnel

  • Sam Spratt – artwork
  • Nick Mahar – booklet insert, design, interior photography
  • Jonathan Benavente – booklet insert, design, interior photography
  • Tai Linzie – art coordination
  • Dawud "Mr. Dashiki" West – art coordination
  • Andy Proctor – package production

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[39] 173
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[40] 8
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[41] 26
UK Albums (OCC)[42] 88
US Billboard 200[43] 4
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[44] 2
US Top Rap Albums (Billboard)[45] 2
US Top Tastemaker Albums (Billboard)[46] 11

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[37] Gold 500,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Martin Caballero (November 9, 2014). "On the Verge: Rapper Logic breaks out with first album". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Wesley Case (June 21, 2013). "Logic: From Gaithersburg to Def Jam and Hollywood". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  3. ^ Alex Gale (October 22, 2014). "Exclusive: Logic Breaks Down 6 Things to Know About Him". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 25, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Insanul Ahmed (June 13, 2014). "Who Is Logic? The Maryland Rapper Talks About His Drug Addicted Parents, His Debut Album, and How Nas Tried to Sign Him". Complex. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  5. ^ Sowmya Krishnamurty (October 21, 2014). "Meet Logic, the Punctual, Seinfeld-Loving Rapper Who Turned Down a Deal With Nas". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on December 8, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Erin Lowers (November 13, 2014). "Logic Addresses Kendrick Lamar Comparisons and His Biggest Pressures". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Eric Diep (January 17, 2014). "Logic Says No I.D. Is Like Yoda". XXL. Archived from the original on November 19, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Eric Diep (October 21, 2014). "Logic Focuses on Telling Stories on His Debut Album Under Pressure". XXL. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Andre Grant (October 31, 2014). "Logic Tells The Stories Behind Under Pressure & Explains Finding His Sound". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Nostro, Lauren (September 10, 2014). "Check Out the Artwork For Logic's Upcoming "Under Pressure" Album". Complex. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  11. ^ Spratt, Sam. ""Logic – Under Pressure" – Album Cover illustration for Def Jam Recordings by Sam Spratt". Tumblr. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  12. ^ Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury, Narada Michael Walden (2014). Nikki (Song). Def Jam Recordings. All handwriting on the album's artwork was done by Big Lenbo
  13. ^ Carl Lamarre (May 19, 2014). "Logic Recorded His Debut Album in Two Weeks". MTV. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  14. ^ Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Larry Griffin Jr., Mark Landon (2014). Bounce (Song). Def Jam Recordings. Locations where the album were recorded include: No I.D.'s studio in Los Angeles, Logic's house in the hills, and various hotels across the country throughout the duration of the tour
  15. ^ Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, David Cunningham (2014). Buried Alive (Song). Def Jam Recordings. Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and films by Quentin Tarantino were in rotation constantly throughout the duration of this album's creation
  16. ^ "YouTube". Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Frydenlund, Zach (September 15, 2014). "Listen to Logic's "Under Pressure"". Complex. Archived from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  18. ^ Slavik, Nathan (October 9, 2014). "Logic – Under Pressure". DJBooth. Archived from the original on October 10, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
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  20. ^ Lilah, Rose (April 8, 2014). "Logic – Now". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  21. ^ DJZ (April 23, 2014). "Logic – Alright ft. Big Sean". DJBooth. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  22. ^ Frydenlund, Zach (August 27, 2014). "Listen to Logic's "Driving Ms. Daisy" f/Childish Gambino". Complex. Archived from the original on September 14, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  23. ^ Jules, Marvin (November 13, 2014). "Watch Logic Perform "I'm Gone" On 'The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon'". XXL. Archived from the original on November 17, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  24. ^ a b "Under Pressure – Logic". Metacritic. Archived from the original on November 2, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Under Pressure – Logic : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  26. ^ a b Erin, Lowers (October 21, 2014). "Logic – Under Pressure". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
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  29. ^ a b Weingarten, Christopher. "Logic Under Pressure Album Review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 4, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  30. ^ a b Staff, Aziz (October 28, 2014). "Logic – Under Pressure (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  31. ^ a b Diep, Eric (October 21, 2014). "Logic Is Ready For Rap Stardom on Debut Album 'Under Pressure' – XXL". XXL. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  32. ^ "Logic, "Under Pressure" – The 50 Best Albums of 2014". Complex. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  33. ^ "The BIG List: 46 Albums From 2014 That Are Actually Worth Your Money". Vibe. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  34. ^ "HipHopDX's Top 25 Albums of 2014". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  35. ^ Balfour, Jay (October 29, 2014). "Hip Hop Album Sales: T.I., Logic, Game". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  36. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. Archived from the original on October 29, 2015.
  37. ^ a b "American album certifications – Logic – Under Pressure". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  38. ^ a b Under Pressure (CD liner notes). Logic. Def Jam Recordings. 2014. 26163-9.CS1 maint: others (link)
  39. ^ "Ultratop.be – Logic – Under Pressure" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  40. ^ "Logic Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  41. ^ "Charts.nz – Logic – Under Pressure". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
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  43. ^ "Logic Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  44. ^ "Logic Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  45. ^ "Logic Chart History (Top Rap Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  46. ^ "Logic Chart History (Top Tastemaker Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2016.