The latest release from Gaithersburg, Md., rapper Logic, “Bobby Tarantino II,” starts off with a conversation between the two stars of the Adult Swim comedy show “Rick and Morty.” The duo discuss the merits and differences of “album Logic” and “mixtape Logic.” Through an amusing gesture of self-deprecating humor, Rick criticizes “album Logic,” suggesting he is “not in the mood for a message,” but instead wants to “turn up.”
This exchange sets the table for Logic’s latest work, an attempt to be fun and free, pulling back from the seriousness and high aims of his album while focusing on his artistic strengths. While “Bobby Tarantino II” has some valuable and enjoyable parts, the overall product is still slightly underwhelming and points more to Logic’s continued struggles with deciphering his artistic persona and voice.
Logic started off his career on mixtapes like the 2010 release “Young, Broke & Infamous” by working with a wide variety of beats and refining a soft-on-the-outside, rough-on-the-inside persona with a message about overcoming adversity and focusing on the joys of life. His move from mixtape to album signaled a commitment to stronger messages and deeper lyrical content, though his 2014 debut, “Under Pressure,” talked more about his refusal to sacrifice artistry for fame. While his 2017 album, “Everybody,” was an unapologetic, yet unsatisfactory and Macklemore-ish attempt to tackle paramount issues such as racial tensions and hostile social structures, “Bobby Tarantino” was meant as a carefree alter ego that could help Logic and his listeners take a break from the seriousness he has tried to inject into other projects.
After “Everybody” was criticized for being a superficial and cliched attempt at tackling complex issues with commonly held and noncontentious views, “Bobby Tarantino II” is a clear attempt to move away from serious messages and toward enjoyable, laid-back music. Rick’s message on the “Grandpa’s Space Ship” skit shows Logic is willing to poke fun at himself and is trying to regain his original spark by focusing on free-flowing verses and pushing his voice against impressively produced musical support.
Songs like “Yuck,” “Contra” and “Indica Badu” show his ability to work with a wide range of beats — from trap tracks to mellowed-out backdrops — and his raw ability to gift listeners with good bars. “Yuck” is the leading track in this release, providing the best message Logic has ever sent to his haters and detractors and moving away from his typically shy and trite interactions with criticism. With a vicious backing track and pointed lyrics, the song puts his success and ability on full display, and while Logic attempts to take the high road by wishing his haters success and working on his own terms, he drops powerful stingers like “But you push the issue ’cause I give you more press than your publicist could ever get you.”
“Indica Badu” is a relaxed and mellow product, and while it does not explore any large themes — or talk about much other than smoking and relaxing — the track effortlessly blends sleepy tones with electrifying lyrics. It also features an impressive guest verse from Wiz Khalifa, who offers arguably some of his best work in years.
On “Contra,” Logic works with a completely different accompaniment, rapping to a hard trap ensemble while taming a mesmerizing beat. “Warm It Up” is a standout track, showcasing the most of Logic’s pure technical skill and presence on the mic. He delivers, going back to the style of his older work and reminding listeners of 2011 mixtape tracks like “All I Do” and “Young Sinatra II.”
While “Bobby Tarantino II” hosts some enjoyable tracks, Logic’s forced attempt at a laid-back product leads to underwhelming songs with loose writing and unoriginal content. Songs like “Everyday,” “Wizard of Oz” and “State of Emergency” suggest Logic’s carefree approach to producing the mixtape actually detracted from some pieces, as if he did not give them enough attention.
In addition, Logic seems to be trying too many sounds, blatantly mimicking others’ styles instead of relishing in his own. “Boom Trap Protocol” sounds straight out of a Travis Scott album, and “44 More” can be described as a poor man’s Kendrick Lamar piece. These remain enjoyable, but by fully copying the styles and works of others, Logic’s own presence and voice is watered down in the album.
Overall, “Bobby Tarantino II” is an appreciable work. Fans of Logic will likely find the project entertaining while shaking their heads at the missed potential. The future of his music remains to be seen; maybe with a less haphazard approach and more quality control, Logic will be able to fully capture the magic of his early music.