In the four years since XXL shouted him out as part of the 2013 Freshman class, 27-year-old rapper Logic, hailing from the D.C. suburb Gaithersburg, MD., has been on a rapid rise. Last year he sold out a show at Stubb’s BBQ and for this year’s tour, supporting his excellent new album “Everybody,” he moved up to one of our city’s biggest stages.
On Thursday night, he packed the house at the Austin360 Amphitheater, drawing a crowd that was diverse and very young. While we have no official demographic or sales numbers, it’s a safe bet that bottled water sales easily outstripped beer at the amphitheater as teenagers made up the bulk of the audience.
A-LIST PHOTOS: Logic, Joey Badass at the Austin360 Amphitheater
From the moment Joey Badass finished his excellent opening set, a chant went through the crowd — “Logic, Logic” — and when he hit the stage, the gregarious rapper captivated his young audience. He kept those kids with him 300 percent and it was clear that for many of them the experience was straight up transcendent.
Here are eight reasons that should give all of us hope for the future of hip-hop:
1.) His core philosophy. Praise rap is nothing new, but in the last few years artists such as Chance the Rapper have become more overt about marrying gospel and mainstream rap. As a skyscape splashed across the screens in the background, Logic opened his show with “Hallelujah,” his own contribution to the wayward-soul-seeking-redemption genre of rap. Then, as part of his introduction, he laid down his guiding principles — peace, love and positivity — and set the tone for the evening.
“Look to your left, look to your right,” he told the crowd. “You might not know these people, but tonight they’re your (expletive) family and I want you to take care of your family.”
2.) His ability to negotiate complicated racial dynamics. Logic is a mixed race rapper, both black and white. He’s from a hard-scrabble background littered with crime and drug addiction, but he’s light skinned. Like so many kids coming up today, including many of the beautiful brown faces that turned out for the show, his identity doesn’t fit neatly into a census check box. “Everybody,” the title track from his 2017 release and an early highlight of his set, deftly examines the struggle to embrace our universal oneness without discounting the factors that make us all unique.
3.) He knows his history and respects his elders. A whole section of the show was a love letter to ’90s hip-hop and he’s clearly picked up a few tricks studying the legends.
4.) He’s not a mumble rapper. Actually he’s the opposite, a sharp-tongued quick spitter with a knack for verbal gymnastics.
5.) Every time he made a lewd comment he mentioned his wife. I know, I know. Sometimes with women, particularly somewhat older women like myself, it sounds like a broken record: “Misogyny in hip-hop, blah, blah, blah.” Hip-hop by its nature can be lewd and loaded with braggadocio, and that is fine. It’s just respect we’re asking for. It was refreshing to see a dude who quickly brought up his wife every time he mentioned his, ahem, member.
6.) His musicality and humility. He brought three keyboard players and a drummer. He reveled in the complex melodic structures they created and made a point of giving each of them their shine.
7.) His honesty about his mental health struggles. He spoke openly about a panic attack last year that landed him in the hospital and the importance of removing the stigma around mental health struggles. He talked to his young fans straight from the heart: “Maybe no one has ever told you this,” he said, “but you are so important. You are so beautiful. You are so special.” Then he encouraged them to “be that voice for anybody who might need it” before leading the crowd in a chant “I am special. I am special.”
8.) The real connection he forged with the kids who love him. At multiple points in the show he stopped to call out individual fans, by name and age (average age was about 15). “Don’t hide your braces, you have a beautiful smile,” he told a young woman up front early in the show. He joked with an 11-year-old in the front about the obscenities in his lyrics. He brought a young child who was turning 7 up on stage and encouraged the whole crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to him “like he’s your little brother.”
At one point, he persuaded the entire stadium, largely filled with kids who have never known life without streaming entertainment 24/7, to put down their phones and live in the moment with him. He encouraged them to push their own boundaries and follow their dreams by demonstrating how he was learning to do the same. He sang an unreleased ballad he wrote recently because sometimes, he explained, he just wants to sit at the piano and make timeless music, despite the fact that it’s out of his comfort zone.
Overall, he approached his young audience with so much compassion, love and respect, the whole evening resounded with hope for the future.