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From Boston Calling 2019: Joyner Lucas Couldn’t Save Logic

logic boston calling
Logic took the festival's Red Stage Sunday night.

In a set at Boston Calling filled with re-dos and walk-offs, Logic cemented his status as one of rap’s most divisive live acts. For his fans, he filled his set with stellar renditions of classics and a healthy amount of new material — but to others, the Maryland-born rapper was petulant at times, something that bringing out a secret guest did not fix. Onlookers’ preconceptions about Logic’s music and performance heavily shaped their experiences — but it was utterly disgraceful how the rapper could be so openly hostile with his crowd and still seek exorbitant praise.

The above is not to take away from Logic’s strong start. With songs like “44 More” and “Everybody,” he displayed his lyrical prowess and speedy delivery. After “44 More,” he spoke on his message of “peace, love, and positivity” and how those were the guiding principles in his life and music career. When he paused to take a breather after “Overnight,” it was clear that he was giving a lot to this performance. He seemed genuine, and it made sense that he demanded the same from the crowd, urging them to fully give themselves to the music and not just passively listen. Then things went south.

There are two ways to interpret what Logic did over the rest of his set. Either he really meant all of the things he said about the crowd lacking energy and not wanting to perform for them, or he just trolling them and passion and being genuine is a one-way street. If you are not a Logic stan, both of these situations are enough to get you to tune out and walk away. But for those who gave themselves fully to Logic, this was downright abusive.

Logic stopped the track “Homicide” halfway through to note that the crowd lacked energy. He then finished the track and moved onto “Killing Spree,” which he also stopped since the crowd allegedly did not give him enough. Logic then brought on Joyner Lucas to perform “ISIS” — a live debut — and “I Love,” a nice departure from the previous two songs, but then Lucas rambled like a hostage at gunpoint explaining how he had misread Logic and that he was actually a really nice person. Logic then bragged about his bestselling book and about his new album full of “fun a**-f**king music.” At that point, it seemed like he was back to being a self-confident rapper, and he even expressed his displeasure on the division of the crowd down the middle — never mind that he compared himself to Moses while doing so. After a cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” seemingly performed to remind his audience that they his speaking voice is preferable, he catapulted into 2014’s “Under Pressure.” Logic cut the song short again and sarcastically asked the crowd if they needed a break from this “overload of raw hip-hop.” Finally, during “Midnight,” Logic declared the show to be over and walked off the stage, asking for his check.

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Logic’s DJ correctly diagnosed what transpired between the rapper and the crowd as “relationship issues.” The crowd tried to cheer him back on. When that failed, the DJ suggested booing. Then the crowd cheered again as Logic reemerged. He was back to his normal self for most of the rest of the set, but much of the crowd watched in a daze after the walk-off. Planned or not — and it was probably planned — the act of walking off stage is the last resort, a nuclear option that alienated much of the audience. Logic’s diehards may have been fine with this — some may have even been expecting it — but a decent chunk of the audience took it as an opportunity to get a better spot for Travis Scott’s headlining act.

After these antics, the rest of Logic’s set felt trivial. His cover of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache” felt silly. “100 Miles and Running” came off as braggadocious. Even his hit “1-800-273-8255” felt rushed as he started to run over his allotted time. He fit in “Everyday” before exiting the stage for good, leaving his fans in awe and neutral onlookers in disbelief. For someone as devoted to the craft as Logic is, it is a bad sign when the spectacle overtakes the music during a live performance. Whether this was a one-time hiccup or (more likely) all part of the script, one can only hope that Logic turns things around and sticks to his mantra of peace and love, because for a rapper who claims that he “still ain’t hit my peak” at age 29, his set at Boston Calling felt like a new low.

— Staff writer Jack M. Schroeder can be reached at jack.schroeder@thecrimson.com.

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