Lyrically agile rapper Logic has released an album that simultaneously ends a personal era and pays respect to a musical one, with uneven results.

A little over a month after Kendrick Lamar released his ambitious 2022 double album with his kids on the cover, the turbo-charged Logic has released his own 30-track effort with his own child center stage.

Logic’s latest, titled “Vinyl Days,” is his final project under Def Jam, the label that first discovered and signed the Maryland native to a major deal. It’s a record that sometimes feels too obviously aware of that scenario in a disjointed sense early on. Late though, it ultimately hits a rhythmic and thematic stride that pays admirable homage to classic and pure hip-hop sounds with careful production and commentary on the importance of preserving the genre.

“Vinyl Days” is an unlikely project to begin with. In July 2020, Logic announced his retirement alongside the release of “No Pressure.” This latest release marks his second album since that announcement and the follow-up to 2021’s “Bobby Tarantino III.”

Unlike Lamar’s latest, which was broad in scope presumably because Lamar had much to say, on “Vinyl Days” there’s more quantity than exceptionally memorable quality to be found within the somewhat bloated but era-loving record.

The album is characterized by its tinny throwback beats skipping along at mellow paces, settling into uneasy, creeping grooves textured by ample vinyl pops. It all speaks to the sound of underground hip-hop tracks from the ‘90s, songs that served well an entire generation of dudes unwinding with their friends around a cheap table.

The album is rife with samples that conjure that bygone era in more direct fashion too. Logic and his team of writers and producers build on moments originally created by Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys and Fabulous Performers, among others.

And the album boasts a guest list that welcomes in features from the likes of RZA, Royce Da 5’9, DJ Premier, Funkmaster Flex, Wiz Khalifa and The Game for good measure.

In the album’s frantic early portion, most of the songs clock in below two and three minutes, creating a disorienting ride for a listener seeking out a cohesive album experience. Forgettable and transparently planned voice message skits from celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Aaron Judge and Michael Rappaport, JJ Abrams and Nardwuar don’t help the disorganized feel.

Even throughout the early run of forgettable tidbits, though, Logic admirably maintains his signature style that both cruises along with and shifts old-school rhythms and flows into their logical next few high-speed gears, hitting the turbo button whenever he feels compelled to lap the competition.

That talent is readily apparent in such spots as one of the album’s early high points, “Clouds,” a track on which Logic enlists Langston Bristol and Curren$y to disintegrate a microphone over a chilled-out beat with a slow chorus that showcases his versatile pacing.

While his inherent talent with wordplay keeps him a level above many of his younger, mumble rapping social-media-made peers, on a 30-song effort that’s essentially an homage to an era of music already done, it can feel pretty tired by the end.

Too often single attempts like the genre trope-filled “Decades” fall flat without much in the way of memorable verses and infectious beat despite a deep team of co-writers. “Tetris,” meanwhile, hangs its hat on one admittedly clever block-themed word association.

Still, later on in the listen, there are select moments that start to get the head nodding and the gears turning, as on “Therapy Music,” which settles deep in a mid-tempo pocket to speak on therapy, Logic’s retirement, rap politicking and other topics.

It’s probably no coincidence it’s the longest and feels like one of the first fully fleshed-out songs on the album. One could be forgiven for starting the album there.

Past its midpoint tracks like “Rogue One” and Wiz Khalifa feature “Breath Control” see Logic step into a bit of a back-loaded rhythm, producing a high-caliber ‘90s hit feel on “Ten Years” with Royce Da 5’9 and “Carnival.”

On “Introducing Nezi,” Logic gets upstaged for a moment by a bright newcomer he’s looking to highlight, Nezi Momodu, a female rapper who comes out of the gates with a sinisterly accented, devastatingly articulated and easily controlled flow reminiscent of Lil Wayne’s most impish moments.

It’s only when those tracks are stacked up against similarly dense tunes like RZA feature “Porta One” and the turntable aesthetics of “Orville” and “Vinyl Days” back to back that Logic’s commitment to and love for the style he came up on become more apparent.

It’s then that his broader move of skirting commercial norms on the last effort with a label he feels both helped him get started and later wronged him really gets through.

To close out the record, Logic offers a bittersweet 10-minute spoken word list of thank-yous to various ground-level Def Jam employees who now have rap shout-outs on “Sayonara.”

Recommended for you