Tavis Smiley: Good evening from Los Angeles. I’m Tavis Smiley.
Tonight, a conversation with rapper, Logic. He is one of the top streaming artists in the world with over one billion streams. He has just released his latest project. It’s called “Everybody” and marks the highest opening week of his career. The project has a unique concept and boasts some surprising collaborations.
We’re glad you’ve joined us. Rapper Logic coming up in just a moment.
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Tavis: Logic has steadily and very quietly become one of the brightest young stars in hip-hop. He is one of the top 25 streaming artists in the world with over one billion streams. He joins us tonight to talk about his third album.
It’s called “Everybody”, which has a unique concept and some surprising guest collaborations. Before our conversation, though, let’s take a look at some of the video for the song, “Black Spiderman”.
Tavis: Your fans, of course, know your biracial makeup and you aren’t the first artist in this genre to be biracial. There is, of course, Dragg, there is J Cole, a bunch of folk to come to mind. But to my mind and listening to your work, I think this is the first time you’ve actually talked about it in this way.
Logic: Yeah. And I’m probably the first biracial rapper who looks white as hell [laugh]. So, yeah, for sure.
Tavis: You said that, not me.
Logic: No, it’s all good [laugh] because I’m comfortable with who I am, you know. And I think sometimes like, you know, I’ve heard things like even just within the community of hip-hop like, oh, he’s always talking about being black and white. He’s always talking about being biracial. Why is he always talking about it? Why is he always talking about it?
I’m not always talking about it because this is the first time I’ve ever discussed it on an album. It’s always, you know, when I would go and I’d be interviewed and, oh, what’s it like being a white rapper? What’s it like being a white rapper?
To me, it’s like, well, I’m black and white. I’m biracial, so I make it a statement to say like this is who I am because I am proud of who I am, you know. So because of that, people go, you know, he’s pushing the whole biracial thing too much. To me, it’s like let’s be honest.
If everybody was like what’s it like being a white rapper? I was like, oh, it’s great! And just three years went by. Oh, yeah, being a white rapper is great, great, great, and then it came out that my dad’s black, they’d be like what? Are you ashamed [laugh]? So you can’t win no matter what you do.
Tavis: You can’t win no matter what you do. I take your point, Logic. But how have you become comfortable with the skin that you are in?
Logic: Nice. That’s kind of gangster how you do that.
Tavis: A lot of — well, you know.
Logic: That’s very cool.
Tavis: I’ll leave the rhyming to you. But there are a lot of folk, though, who into adulthood — I know some of them — who still have not come to terms with who they really are.
Logic: I think it’s because we focus individually on how society perceives us. It’s almost like our perception of how we’re perceived, and that really affects how we act and how we mature as individuals. So for me, growing up in my household and being a student of peace, love and positivity, which is my whole thing, I had to be able to look inward, you know.
It’s almost like when somebody tells you something, when you’re so sure of something like whether you’re having a conversation or it’s a bet or this or that, and you’re so sure and then you’re wrong.
You know, you have to be able to go, “Oh, damn, I was wrong” and shake that person’s hand and learn from it, you know, to be able to mature. So that’s what I had to do. I had to look in the mirror and say like this is me. You know, whether people like me or not, this is who I’m gonna be.
That’s why, yeah, I rap and I solve Rubik’s Cubes and I’m married. I look how I look and I represent peace and love. You know, those things aren’t necessarily praised in the mainstream media that is hip-hop or whatever you want to call rap today, which I think is B.S.
Because hip-hop was founded on diversity. Hip-hop was founded on love and peace and being who you truly are. So I don’t know, man. I’m still persecuted every single day for being myself, but I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not. So that’s kind of the motto.
Tavis: That’s nice too.
Tavis: So we taking turns here? Is that how we’re gonna do this [laugh]?
Logic: No. You got it. It’s your show.
Tavis: No, no, no. You’re the star, though. You said something a moment ago that got my attention, which is that it takes a certain level — I’m paraphrasing here — but it takes a certain level of honesty and authenticity to admit that you were wrong, to look at yourself and to acknowledge that.
We live in a world increasingly, you understand, where people don’t do that. From the president of the country on down, people are unwilling to do that. So what you’re saying is more than just a statement. It’s more of a challenge to people, but people don’t want to accept that opportunity.
Logic: Yeah. I mean, be wrong. Learn. Like it’s all good. I mean, honestly, I also think that comes from like open-mindedness, you know. Because my whole thing is like every day I’m out there and I say peace, love, positivity. Because that’s what this album is about. That’s why it’s called “Everybody”.
It is the fight for equality of every man, woman and child regardless of race, religion, color, creed and sexual orientation. I say the fight for because I believe that we are all born equal, but we are not treated equally. So it is my job, you know, to be that voice.
So, yeah, I think it’s like you just got to be you and you got to learn. It’s okay. It’s okay to fall and get back up because like it’s almost like — what’s that saying? The reason the master is the master and the student is the student is because the master has failed even more times than the student has ever tried.
And for the master to say I have failed and stand tall and say I have failed is a big deal because, you know, when it comes to the masters of society, it’s about always being right or always being perfect rather than admitting their own defeat at times.
Tavis: Three or four times now, you have given us your mantra, which I love: peace, love, positivity.
Tavis: But knowing your back story as I do, those three things could have been bitterness, resentment and anger. They weren’t, they aren’t. Tell me a bit about your back story and how it turned out to be about peace, love and positivity and not three other characteristics that are not so admirable.
Logic: I think — man, well, just kind of getting into it like growing up. Both of my parents were addicted to alcohol and narcotics. My father, specifically, to crack cocaine. And he’s 62 years old now and he’s been clean for a few years. He’s doing well now, but back then he wasn’t a part of my life.
You know, having a black father and a white mother, a father that wasn’t there, being raised by my mother, then my brothers and sisters from — or half-brothers and sisters.
I mean, they’re my brothers and sisters, but from other black men that my mother had them with, it was like a weird kind of place to grow up in my household specifically and then seeing like my brothers in the streets in selling crack and hustling and getting locked up and shooting, you know, guns and doing all this crazy stuff.
You know, I’ve held guns and I’ve run around with knives and I’ve gotten in fights and I’ve done dumb things and I’m so happy I’ve never done anything that haunts me.
You know, I’ve never taken anybody’s life, thank God. I’ve never done anything that I look in the mirror and am truly ashamed of. I mean, everybody’s done something, you know, they’re not proud of. But like I’m just really happy it never went there.
So kind of having to fight through all that domestic violence and abuse and seeing my mother beaten by men and, you know, blood on the kitchen floor and my sisters being sexually assaulted and raped, my mother included, and my mother dealing with bipolar and anxiety, it’s just so crazy.
I don’t know, but I saw all of it. I saw it all and I saw it and I saw it as a child. And in my mind, every time I saw it, it was like don’t do that. That’s what not to be, you know. Don’t hit a woman, love a woman, nurture a woman. Don’t yell. You know, do your best to speak…
Tavis: Let me cut in right quick. How did you know not to do that? Because as you well know, most people end up emulating the behavior that they see. How did you know? Where does this moral compass come from in the midst of all of that?
Logic: I have no idea. I don’t know, man. That’s the thing where like people will ask me that. It is common sense and God or whatever it may be. The energy of the universe, but I just I don’t know. I felt bad, you know. Like I’d see that and I was just like — like that’s why I feel. I always tell my stylist, Ricky, all the time. Like I’m so basic. Like I just come like basic.
Everything about me is basic and it’s like instinctual to just like be myself. You know, just be you. So I think, as a child, like that was me. It was me to not want to hurt a woman or force some woman to do something. You know, I don’t know, man. I don’t know. To me, it makes sense. And you know what I think it comes down to? It’s just that mentality.
For example, a few years ago when I first started, man, just to be completely honest with you, there was people who would say just hurtful things like, you know, you’re a cracker, you’re gay, you’re stupid, you’re this and just these hurtful things to try to tear me down because I was just being myself. And I never understood. I asked myself how could somebody hate me, right? And I’m not trying to be like — I’m just being honest.
How could you hate me? Peace, love, positivity. I came from nothing. I made something of myself. The underdog, social security, welfare, Section 8 household, and I made it. And I can’t believe — it’s incredible. I’m here to wave the flag for everybody to say that we can all truly with perseverance do this.
And then there’s people like shut up, you’re stupid, you’re this, you’re that, you’re whack, your music’s terrible. I would always ask myself, trouble myself, like why? Why do people hate me? Why do people hate me? And then it clicked and it was like I don’t understand why people hate me because I’m not a hater, man.
I’m a lover and that’s the mentality I have. I don’t have a hater mentality. I don’t look at things and try to dissect them in a negative way and talk about what I don’t like or what could be better. I talk about the things I enjoy or that I love first.
Tavis: There are a couple of things you said that I want to go back and unpack or get you to unpack if we can.
Tavis: One of them is this notion of people listening to your music and saying it’s whack. There may be some of that that you’re getting because of the way you look.
Logic: Oh, yeah, for sure.
Tavis: And there may be people who legitimately don’t like your sound.
Logic: Which is fine.
Tavis: We all have to be open to critics. I’ve got ’em, you’ve got ’em. We all have critics. The question, though, is how did you get comfortable with your musical stylings when there were people telling you, legitimately or illegitimately, that you’re whack?
Logic: I love that [laugh]. What a great question.
Tavis: How did you…
Logic: It’s just perseverance and it’s knowing like the biggest thing that you have to understand is like — or I had to understand — is I don’t make music for people that don’t like it, right? Like you don’t do this show for the people that are like, oh, I don’t agree with that or this or that. It’s like you don’t have to agree, but we don’t have to argue about it.
So for me, when I came to the realization about acceptance, when I stopped looking for acceptance in others, when I stopped going on Twitter to see people go, oh, you’re great, I know I’m great, I know I’m good, I know I’m talented, I know I’m amazing, I know I’m special.
Just like you, just like the people watching, that is a real thing. And once I knew that and I could tell myself that, that’s when I truly found that balance, you know. So for me, now that’s not even where my mind is when it comes to album like this.
Because it’s like I didn’t make the music stylistically for somebody who’s not going to enjoy it. If you don’t like it, that’s cool, whatever. Like you’re not invited to this party. Everybody who’s — the millions of people around the world who are, are here and I’m so happy because that’s who I made the music for.
The thing I think I was most scared about was the subject matter, you know, to discuss a lot of the things. Because I’ve never talked about this ever before. I’ve never talked about it and I was just scared. I was scared out of my mind, you know. I discuss things politically like I’ve never done before.
Race, mental health, suicide, anxiety, like just so many things. And it was very scary and I’m glad I did. And I have, you know, my buddy, Jordan, is over there right now and I had people who loved me and cared about me from my wife to my best friends, to push me and support me to do something I was scared to do.
Tavis: You mentioned this word earlier in the conversation. Now you mentioned it a second time. I wanted to go there, so let’s go there now. Tell me about this track anxiety.
Logic: Oh, man. All right. So anxiety — all right. So last year, I’m trying to think about how to like not sound a certain way. Like this year — let’s put it this way. This year, I just paid a million dollars in taxes. So that just goes to show you how great last year was, right?
Tavis: You had a great year [laugh].
Logic: I had a great year. But at the same time, I was unhappy. I was the most unhappy I’d ever been in my life. And the reason was, there’s a few reasons, but the first one is I was working myself to the ground. I was not enjoying the moment. I wasn’t in the moment, and I’ll never forget. I mean, literally, constantly, constantly working, working, no time to myself.
And I was standing in line. It was 2015 and I was standing in line to see “Star Wars”. It was December, with my wife in Hollywood downtown. I started having this crazy physical feeling like I was going to faint. I’d never really had this feeling before. I mean, I felt like my soul was leaving my body. I was freaking out.
I felt like I needed to throw up and, lo and behold, I ended up finding myself in a hospital bed momentarily later. And I didn’t know what was going on and the doctor tells me, oh, it’s anxiety. I’m like this isn’t anxiety! Like, yo, I’m feeling like I have no idea what’s going on. And ever since then, I was beginning to experience something called derealization.
Now derealization is the sense of being out of one’s body all the time. And what I’ve later come to realize is it’s actually a hyper analyzation of reality in real time. What that means is basically you’re just overanalyzing every moment that you perceive in real time, which sounds kind of wild, but this exists.
And I didn’t know what it was, so I thought I had like a disease or there was something going on in my brain or I was dying. And I didn’t realize that it was anxiety. This term like, oh, you’re driving me crazy, is a real thing. Like I almost drove myself to the brink of insanity and I didn’t even know why.
Why am I doing it? You know, why am I doing meet and greets where I’m meeting 100 people every day three hours before a show and then I’m doing a sound check and then I’m performing for two hours a night. And then my off day isn’t really an off day. It’s traveling on a bus for 18 hours and then just over and over and over. Last year, nine straight months on the road away from my wife, from my dogs, from my home.
So I say all this to say I didn’t understand what it was and I had the crazies anxiety. It was ruling me every day and I was having these dark thoughts about death, not killing myself, nothing like that, but I was like, oh, my God, I’m moral. I hope I’m not going on too much, but I had all these realizations and they were all negative things.
Once I ate better, once I said no, I’m not gonna do that show or, no, I have to postpone this tour for me, my anxiety began to get better and better and better and better. That song, that’s what it’s about, you know, the first half of the song is a beautiful voice from my friend, Lucy Rose, and then the second half is when anxiety hits you and it comes in.
You know, I’m gonna get up in your mind right now and make you feel like die right now. I’m gonna hit ’em and get ’em livin’, they wonder what I’m givin’, I’m never givin’, I got to let everybody know I’m in they mind right now. So it was just a culmination of a year of hell for me that I put into a song.
Tavis: The takeaway from that experience was what?
Logic: Life’s awesome. Stop over-thinking it. You know, just enjoy the moment and balance yourself. That’s why I got this tattoo.
Tavis: It says what?
Logic: It says, “Balance yourself”. This one says “Happy wife, happy life”. And this one says “Balance yourself”. Those are the only tattoos I have.
Tavis: Those things kind of go together, don’t they [laugh]?
Logic: Hey, that’s real, man.
Tavis: As I think about it, they kind of go together. Let me go there. I’m just following you because you’re moving so fast and I love this.
Logic: Oh, cool.
Tavis: I’ve lost count. I’m usually pretty good at this, but I’ve lost count and I lost count at six as the number of times you have referenced your wife, including “Happy wife, happy life”. So here’s the parallel for me, maybe even a disconnect until you explain it for me.
Tavis: Which is how you come out of that familial environment where all hell was breaking loose growing up and at such a young age, you find yourself married and in a marriage that you’re apparently happy in and you love your wife and she’s gorgeous. I’ve seen photos you got together. That helps [laugh].
Tavis: But I guess what I’m getting at is that you could have gone the other way, given those…
Logic: Oh, of course, yeah, yeah.
Tavis: You know what I’m saying? I mean, the short answer is you met somebody you fell in love with. I get that. But just talk to me at a deeper level about how you end up in such a stable family environment when what you came out of was the exact opposite and you’re there at such a young age.
Logic: You know what? Maybe because deep down in some subconscious level within the depths of my mind, that’s something I had always searched for and looked for, you know. Monogamy and, you know, not being a womanizer and, you know, from seeing the things that I did, maybe deep down, I was looking for a good woman. Deep down, I want to be a great father.
So maybe that’s just been the goal this whole time and I’m like having this realization on the couch with you right now. Like it’s a real thing. Like I never really thought about it, but, wow, look at this.
You know, I got married at 25. I’m 27 now. My wife, she’s only 24, you know. So like we were both very young, but we knew what we wanted. People, oh, you’re too young! Why you getting married? You got your whole life ahead of you.
That’s a real thing. I think nobody should ever rush anything, but the difference is that we didn’t rush anything. We were happy, not content. We were happy to be with each other and there’s hard times, man, in any relationship. But I believe that communication is the biggest thing.
As long as you can truly communicate with someone, whether it’s your spouse or your business partner or your friend, and being transparent and being honest — you know, you have to honest — it really works. But I think I don’t know, man. I’m just in love and she’s bad, you know, she’s fine. That’s what that means out there [laugh], and she’s a great person.
Honestly, I’m gonna be 100%, like I’d never been so attracted to a woman before I met her. That’s me. You know, you gotta wake up next to this person for the rest of your life. No matter what may happen or whatever, like I love her. But for me, I got the whole package and that’s what it is.
And it’s really funny, man, because like when I was single, I’d rap about girls just for fun. You know, you just rap about girls. Hey, what’s up? You know, Tina and whatever and this and that, just kind of like having fun. But it’s really cool now to have that like rapper aesthetic within my music, except I’m talking about my wife. It’s kind of cool. I like it.
Tavis: Not that you or I or any of us would ever encourage kids to drop out of high school, but how does all this enlightenment — and I’m not trying to kiss your behind. I’m asking seriously where this kind of enlightenment and understanding comes from? What do you watch? What do you read? What do you listen to?
Logic: Oh, man…
Tavis: For a kid who didn’t finish high school, this is pretty impressive.
Logic: Yeah. And one thing I will say is I believe education is extremely important. You know what I mean? Unfortunately, my system and where I was failed me and then also my home was just — and that’s no excuse, you know.
Because I remember I actually went back. My high school had me come back and speak to the kids. That was really weird and they were like — they handed me the mic just before I talked to the kids and they were like whatever you do, don’t say you didn’t graduate [laugh].
I was like, oh…And I take the mic and then I’m like, you know, I’m going everything’s going fine. Like halfway through, some kid’s like how come you didn’t graduate [laugh]? They were like, yeah. I was like, oh, and I look at my old counselor and I’m like, damn…
Tavis: Moment of truth.
Logic: Yeah, and I was just 100. I was just like…
Tavis: What’d you say? How’d you handle it?
Logic: I was like I didn’t graduate because of all the things that were going on in my household. I didn’t graduate because at that point in my life I didn’t have people there to push me and guide me and, you know, work me to get that education.
And I was like there are so many people here that have loving parents and guardians that are pushing them and there are so many people here as well that don’t and that are still getting their education. You’re stronger than even I was and I applaud you, and everyone applauded those people. So that’s how I feel about that.
So I think — and another thing is like don’t be lazy. So when I was 17 years old and, unfortunately, I wasn’t in high school, so I got two jobs that I worked in the morning and the evening. Then I would go home and…
Tavis: Just because I’m curious, what were they?
Logic: Oh, well, I had all types of jobs. At that specific time, I was working at Jiffy Lube, so I was changing oil. Then in the evening, I worked at a flower shop.
Tavis: Okay. I’m just curious, yeah, yeah, okay [laugh].
Logic: But, yeah, then I would come home and record. So I would write and write and write and I would record myself and I’d work on myself. So I was working on this craft and I just say that to say like if at 17 years old, I can live on my own, work two jobs and still follow my dreams, then just chill.
You can finish high school and do what you love. But I think, I don’t know. What pushed me to kind of get where I am today, it is others. It’s others, man. Like, I mean, you know, sure, I’ve read some books.
I’m a much more visual person and audio person.
But like thinking real rich and just the true secret of this kind of unspoken — it’s exactly like I was — there’s a language of success. When I was explaining about haters, I don’t understand why people hate because I’m not a hater. It’s also like go get it. Like go do it. Like there’s nothing should ever stand in your way.
You know, when it comes to success, you have to want success more than your next breath. It takes determination, persistence and realism, of course, and wanting success more than your next breath to attain the goals in what you want in life just in general. So I feel a lot of people go, well, you know, I would do it, but…
And that’s it right there. You know, I’d go to school, but I can’t. You know, but unfortunately, like my mother’s sick or but this and I have to be there. It’s like I get it and this is a part of life, but if you want it, you have to do it because I think the worst thing in the world is looking back in your elder years being filled with regret.
Tavis: Speaking of success, if there is one thing that indicates that you are on your way, it is when other giants in the rap game, in the hip-hop game, put their imprint or two on our project. You got some great collaborations on here.
Logic: Yeah, I’m pretty blessed.
Logic: It’s great.
Tavis: There is some stuff. I mean, the names just — there’s some secrets. I won’t even tell you who some of them are [laugh].
Logic: Oh, man, thank you, yeah.
Tavis: But when you hear them, you’ll know exactly who they are. But it’s just — I mean, say a word about the collaborations on this.
Logic: I mean, yeah. I waited. I never had features on an album, you know, like big features. So I wanted to wait. You know, I have Killer Mike. I have Chuck D from Public Enemy, Black Thought from The Roots. No I.D., rapper who’s an incredible Grammy-winning producer for Jay Z and Kanye West and so many others, just rapping for the first time in 20 years on this album.
Tavis: And my friend, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Logic: Oh, Neil deGrasse Tyson!
Tavis: That’s the funny part!
Logic: That’s what we talk about. That’s gangster!
Tavis: That is the funny part.
Logic: That’s the craziest. Oh, my God.
Tavis: The astrophysicist is on your project [laugh].
Logic: And the funny thing is he’s playing the role of God because let’s talk about it. One thing I just would like to say to wrap all this up is this album, it is a concept album and the elevator pitch of the concept is this guy, Adam, is walking home from work where he gets hit by a car, dies, wakes up in a white void talking to a man who turns out to be God, which tells him that not only has he just died, but that he’s about to be reincarnated.
And not only is he about to be reincarnated, but that he has been reincarnated so many times so, in fact, that he is every human being that has ever existed and it isn’t until he has lived in the shoes of every man, woman, child, race, religion, color and creed that he can he taken from this plane of the flesh into the next existence.
So the concept of the actual album is that on every song where I am not discussing my race, which I’ve never done before, I am rapping from one of the lives that this man, Adam, has lived in the 21st century.
Tavis: Bam! That’s how you close the show [laugh]. That is what the project is. I’ve heard this thing from top to bottom. It is a powerful and beautiful and poignant and insightful piece of work. It is called “Everybody”, as you see on the shirt there, by Logic. Honored to have you on this program, man.
Logic: Thank you.
Tavis: For the first time, hopefully not your last.
Logic: This is my first talk show.
Tavis: See? I feel honored.
Logic: Yeah, this is crazy.
Tavis: You know, I’ve done this a few times now. We put a few people out in the stratosphere.
Logic: It’s pretty tight.
Tavis: Kanye came here years ago before anybody heard of him. Esperanza Spalding came here years ago before people heard of her.
Logic: Hopefully, you’ll let me come back.
Tavis: Let you? What you doing tomorrow [laugh]?
Logic: Thank you so much.
Tavis: Good to see you, man. That’s our show for tonight. Thanks for watching and, as always, keep the faith.
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