College Park: A Review
In a decision to not renew his contract with Def Jam, Bobby Hall, more commonly known as Logic, is embracing his future as an independent artist after releasing his newest project, College Park, less than a year after dropping Vinyl Days— the critically successful swansong that marked the end of his career with the label. Since coming out of retirement (again) with his cult-classic album No Pressure in 2020¸ Logic has experienced what I can only explain as a ‘creative Renaissance’ over the past few years; and, with this newest album, Logic is officially unencumbered and free to make his own rules without bowing to the demands of a record label. What can we expect from Logic now that he’s calling all the shots?
This concept album harkens back to 2011 when Logic was still on the come up, hungry and eager to secure a record deal— an ironic and intentional parody of the current state of his career twelve years later. Hardcore fans of Logic will be quick to point out the nostalgic feature list, which consists of a few returning talents from throughout his career. There’s classic Logic collaborator and Bobby Boy records signee Big Lenbo, the incredibly talented Lucy Rose, who provides vocals and narrative voice overs on several tracks, and the return of fan-favorite C Dot Castro, who was heavily featured on Logic’s past mixtapes and now returns (in glorious fashion) as a fellow Bobby Boy Records signee. Aside from these familiar faces, we see iconic names like the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, Joey Bada$$, Redman, and Seth MacFarlane to name a few.
Even the album title, College Park, serves as a reference to the neighborhood Logic grew up in and where he developed his career during 2011. This small city, highlighted in his New York Times bestselling autobiography This Bright Future, was where Hall would experience some of the worst experiences in his life: experiences like domestic abuse, neglect, drugs, and gang violence that shaped him into the artist he is today.
If Vinyl Days was Logic finally learning to embrace himself and create freely, College Park is the pinnacle of this mindset. While I felt that Vinyl Days had stronger singles, I find that College Park has a much stronger package of tracks that, when strung together, creates a more immersive listening experience that rivals even his best-performing albums. Incorporating elements from his more recent escapades into beat making (under the alias Peanuts), there are a variety of styles and soundscapes on display— most notably, we see the return of the Alternative inspirations that were more prominently displayed in his 2019 album Supermarket, albeit more tuned down for this release.
Before I discuss the track list, I have to address the most common criticism of this album— the skits.
Despite writing off the humor in these skits as ‘subjective’, I can’t gloss over how intrusive these skits are on what would otherwise be a pleasant and immersive listening experience. Of the 17 tracks on this album, 9 of them trail off into 30+ second skits that are meant to tell the story of Logic and his friends enjoying a casual day in their city. By incorporating these skits into the tracks, the replay value of this album takes a nosedive. Had Logic made the skits into separate, skippable tracks, I think the album would’ve benefited from it as a whole.
Aside from the skits, I can’t really find much to complain about with this album. The concept, albeit somewhat lacking in depth, is enough to tell what I feel is a worthwhile story for at least the first listen. I won’t harp on the somewhat awkward RZA verse featured on the into track “Cruisin’ Through the Universe” (although it is quite a mismatch).
Where I find that this album shines is in its consistency— not one track feels off-theme or out-of-place here.
“Gaithersburg Freestyle (feat. C Dot Castro, Big Lenbo, Fat Trel & ADÉ)” is the clear front runner of this album. From the second you click play and hear Maryland radio host DJ Boss Player, accompanied by C Dot Castro, the vibes are immediately tangible. This back-and-forth cypher features Logic and several rappers, some familiar and not so familiar, exchanging bars over what I can only describe as one of the rawest tracks Logic has released. The track, clocking in at a cheeky 3:01, is complimented well by the segway at the end of “Playwright (feat. Andy Hull)” and is a must-play experience for anybody looking to listen to this track.
A few other tracks that I enjoyed are “Lightsabers (feat. C Dot Castro)”, a feel-good boom-bap track with a beautiful beat switch, “Wake Up (feat. Lucy Rose)”, a strong and infectious anthem with a solid beat, “Shimmy (feat. Joey Bada$$)”, an all-around banger with intense verses from Logic and Joey, “Come on Down (feat. Jordan Harris)”, featuring vocals from Logic’s bodyguard in a fun and unique-sounding track, and, lastly, “Village Slum”, an intrinsic piece reflecting on Logic and his generational struggle with addiction and the fear of becoming his parents.
While there are other tracks like “Self Medication (feat. Seth Macfarlane, Redman & Statik Selektah)” and “Paradise II (feat. Norah Jones)” that I would like to explore further, I will summarize my thoughts with this sentiment— Logic is currently, I feel, at his creative best. His emulation of modern and classic styles and his use of these muses to craft original sounds is something that has been severely overlooked over the course of his career. While he may not always nail the theme he’s aiming for, his lack of fear in experimentation and his consistency are what keeps his fans around, year after year, album after album, through back-to-back releases, again and again.
I think that this album is great. I think the embedded skits bring the experience down, but not enough for it to impact my enjoyment. There are some very catchy and solid tracks, and there are a few that I would say fell short of reaching their full potential.
For the fans, this album is easily an 8/10, but for casual listeners I’ll comfortably drop this album down to a respectable 7/10.
Download College Park:
Written By: Michael Miserendino