When politicians run for office, they shake hands and kiss babies. When Logic releases a new album, he schmoozes with his fans. He will come to your house, eat some dinner and let you scroll through his wedding pictures.
That was the scene last week, when the Gaithersburg, Md.-born rapper visited 52-year-old Angela Mike in Arlington, Va. He let her listen to his new album, “The Incredible True Story,” a few hours before its official release while a spread of shrimp, macaroni and cheese, and spinach pastries filled a table nearby.
“Wow!” she exclaimed in a thick Greek accent. “Your music, it’s quality music, not junk music. I don’t know, honey, you have something.”
These types of interactions have become commonplace for Logic, a 25-year-old local-guy-gone-big, who built his career through hard work and affability. He is the humble dude who you actually believe when he says he would rather stay home and work on music than go out and party. But in the current pantheon of rap, Logic is a relative unknown looking for wider acclaim. His fan base is devoted, and he appreciates them, but he is pushing for more. In a genre where the names Kanye, Drake and Kendrick ring loudest, Logic has a long way to go.
“He hasn’t had commercial radio success just yet,” says his manager, Chris Zarou. “That’s the one [thing] we haven’t checked off just yet.”
Jack Cosgrove, a 17-year-old senior at Gonzaga College High School in Northwest Washington, is representative of the fans who buy Logic’s records and attend his concerts. On a recent afternoon in Bowie, Md., Logic and Cosgrove listened to the new album together on the rapper’s tour bus. Clad in brown slacks, a NASA astronaut jacket and Nike high-tops, Logic asked about Cosgrove’s family before delving into his own.
“My mother was crazy,” Logic tells the teenager. Logic says he was technically home-schooled, but that his mom would merely sleep all day without teaching him a thing.
That was before he was Logic, when he was still Sir Robert Bryson Hall II.
Born to a black father and white mother, he grew up in Gaithersburg’s West Deer Park public housing project, where he says his brothers sold crack cocaine and his parents were addicted to drugs.
Stories like these provided the majority of the material for his first four mix tapes and his debut studio album, 2014’s “Under Pressure.” The previous year, Logic landed on the cover of XXL Magazine’s “Freshmen” issue with other up-and-coming rappers.
It is a significant honor in the hip-hop world, with the likes of chart-toppers Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Future all chosen before their careers took off.
“We picked Logic as an XXL Freshman because he had already established a real lane and audience for himself and owned his city,” says Vanessa Satten, XXL’s editor in chief. “Logic is a sincerely nice dude, so you want him [to] win and are happy to see how well he is doing.”
Right now, Logic is doing incredibly well with listeners who mostly look like him — white kids in high school and college, who listen to their music online and share it with friends. Outside of his fan base, the reaction is much different, with people deriding his cheery persona, upbeat tweets and music that reflects both.
Logic seems okay with that for the time being. He insists that he no longer cares what the haters think.
“I see people,” Logic says. “It’s about culture. I’m proud to be biracial. Everyone’s going to like something that’s different.”
Logic’s foray into the rap world actually started with a movie. After seeing Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” in 2005, he became enamored with the film score and realized it was composed by Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA.
From there, Logic found other rap luminaries such as Jay Z and Rakim.
He started rapping seriously at 18 and came up performing smaller shows at the University of Maryland.
Zarou discovered Logic’s music in 2010. He saw a short clip of the rapper spitting an a cappella flow on the College Park campus. To his ears, something stood out about Logic, so he connected with him via Facebook. Soon after, Logic met Arjun Ivatury, the producer who has become one of his most trusted collaborators.
The two now live together in Los Angeles, where Ivatury says they spend up to 12 hours a day working on new music.
After “Under Pressure,” Logic decided to undergo a shift in his lyrical themes. The new “The Incredible True Story” is a concept album built around the rapper’s love of science fiction and anime.
It takes place 100 years in the future and follows the journey of two astronauts flying to a planet called Paradise.
“Personally, it was me not giving a damn,” Logic says of the album’s creative direction. “I think this album is, ‘Here I am, I don’t give a s---, in the most positive way. I’m me, I’m happy and here’s my album. F--- you if you don’t like it, but I hope you do.”
Last Saturday, the day after his new album was released, Logic looked like he always does — relaxed.
At 12:45 p.m., the rapper was inhaling some Chick-fil-A at the F.Y.E. in the Westfield Annapolis shopping mall, a few minutes before an album-release event would bring him face to face with hundreds of fans.
A mix of Logic’s rap influences comprised the soundtrack for this event: Public Enemy, a few Beastie Boys songs and a whole lot of A Tribe Called Quest.
As the music played, roughly 300 millennials were standing in line waiting to get CDs signed and take pictures with him.
By all accounts, Logic should have been tired: He did an in-store signing in New York City the day before that was shut down by police due to overcrowding.
He and his crew would head back to New York, then to Los Angeles, following the Annapolis appearance.
Yet when the curtain rose on Saturday’s event, the rapper embraced everyone with a handshake, a hug and the same exact greeting: “How do you do? What’s your name?”
He apologized to everyone for the rush and shared a few laughs along the way. Those in his inner circle insist that it’s just Logic being Logic.
His focus remains on the future, which is no surprise to those who have known him since he first started.
Yudu Gray Jr., chief executive of House Studio in Hyattsville, Md., remembers seeing Logic do shows for crowds of 30 people. But he performed as if he knew one day he would have 10 times as many people simply lining up to shake his hand.
“He knew he was going to be good,” Gray recalls. “He knew he was going to be a star and was waiting for everyone else to catch up. He just had that thing. He’s done everything he’s said he was going to do.”
Moore is a freelance writer.