It would be very easy to mistaken Logic for a high school teenager, with his curly hair, slender frame, and wiry glasses that sit on a face that doesn’t look a day over 15. The 27-year-old is enjoying the fruits of nearly 9 years of Hip-Hop labor. His latest album Everybody debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, while his single “1-800-273-8255” (the National Suicide Prevention Hotline - just in case you were wondering) has been certified Double Platinum.
Born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Logic weaves together stories of David-over-Goliath triumphs with introspective tales of scarring childhood memories, the role drugs and alcohol played in his life (primarily alcohol abuse from his father), and proclamations of equality. If this sounds familiar, it is probably because he shares much in common with Macklemore. Born Benjamin Hammond Haggerty on the opposite coast in Seattle, Washington, Macklemore formed a following with tales highlighting the beauty within the struggle, overcoming those struggles, including battles with drugs and alcohol, and demonstrations of acceptance and equality. There are many similarities to be drawn between these two rappers, many of which go deeper than skin color.
More than likely, Hip-Hop will remain a predominantly Black arena. The majority of fans and advocates of Hip-Hop are Black. Successful artists of different colors and nationalities not only understand this fact, they embrace it. These artists realize how important it is to connect with their Black audience, while not coming off as a culture appropriator. This is where the differences between Logic and Macklemore begin.
Macklemore does seem to be genuinely inspired by the Hip-Hop culture of past generations. In his certified Diamond single “Thrift Shop”, the line “ice on the fringe is so damn frosty” refers to the diamond-encrusted leather jackets that was prevalent within Black fashion during the ‘80s. Macklemore’s track featuring Hip-Hop legend KRS-One, “Buckshot”, was inspired by his childhood hobby of spray painting. Graffiti was thrust into the mainstream spotlight thanks in large part to Hip-Hop and plights within the Black community.
There have been a couple of incidents, however, where Macklemore’s inspiration may have led him to try to force himself into the good graces of the urban Black community. It was in the preceding hours of the 2014 Grammys. After he and Ryan Lewis, his right-hand producer, swept the Rap categories, including winning the golden gramophone for Best Rap Album, Macklemore opened the door for major scrutiny with this Instagram post, showing a text message to fellow nominee Kendrick Lamar:
In what appeared to be hollow effort to dampen the flames of criticism (and earn some street cred), fans saw right through Macklemore’s attempt at acceptance, and backlashed. To make matters worse, he released another text message exchange between him and K. Dot:
Had Macklemore just made a generic statement congratulating his fellow nominees, or at the very least not release those screenshots, he would not have taken such a PR hit, which still affects him today.
Logic, on the other hand, learned from Macklemore’s mishap. The original title of the album was intended to be AfricAryan, a homage to his biracial roots. After some social media push back, he realized there was no need to strive for Black acceptance in such a heavy-handed way. Thus, he renamed the album Everybody, in which he illustrates the importance of diversity, but not in a preachy, try-hard way. Not in a rigid, overly philosophical, hard to understand way. The album told a story and conveyed an important message, in a saccharine enough way to capture the interest of the casual fan, while having enough depth for the more hardened fans. Logic’s accompanying clothing line, also called Everybody, works as an extension of the music. Up to this point in time, Logic has not made any public sermons about why he should should be gracing the eardrums of Black listeners. He is simply letting his stellar body of work do the heavy lifting.
One man’s mistake is always another man’s gain. Logic sits atop of the charts, by learning from Macklemore.