Hip-hop is defined by character. Tupac, Biggie,
Snoop, and LL Cool J all were icons to the world due to that element of character.
Sadly, hip-hop is dry on character these days. While there’s a plethera of great
artists, even great people…we seem to be lacking the individual who has the
charisma, the candor, and that b-boy grace to represent our foundation beyond
just the music.
Louis Logic is as good a canidate of this as
any. While his debut album, Sin-A-Matic, officially drops this week, Lou has
been putting in visable work for years. He has collaborated with many artists
from yesteryear’s unerground that are finally getting recognition. Logic has
also bounced around the northeast until finally returning to his Big Apple homeland,
where he lives and drinks. Lou’s exciting life and dynamic past truly make what
he has to say, worth hearing.
That fore-mentioned character is very prevalent
in this interview. With his signature subtle humor, the great storytelling rapper,
tells Allhiphop a few stories that help make order out of Logic’s chaotic past.
Allhiphop: Talk about your growing up, I know
it wasn’t easy.
Louis Logic: I’m originally from Long Island.
My pop was an NYPD cop in Harlem. When he retired, he wanted to move back to
a real small town where he was from. It was close to Lock Haven [Pennsylvania].
This is about ’88. I went to high school [there] from ninth grade to eleventh.
That’s pretty much where all the drama took place.
Allhiphop: What sense of hip-hop did you already
have before out to the sticks?
LL: Truthfully, it all started because of skateboarding,
which I took up when I was about ten. I skated for ten years and did that whole
thing. I was actually on a team called Number 9, from Long Island. They now
make all the boards for Zoo York. I had a best friend. We were like the two
mutts out of the crew. Because we were both mixed [racially]. He skated and
rhymed. We’d go out and skate for the day, get all tired and pooped out, sitting
on the curb, thinking we were little bad asses, smoking cigarettes and sh*t,
drinking beer outta paper bags. He’d spit for me, and I was so impressed. Because
he could freestyle and I never heard anything like that before. So, oroginally,
I was just a listener, but he’d coax me into doing it. Because freestyling gets
lonely by yourself. I would try here and there. This kid’s name was Charlie
Tucker, and I’d really like to thank him. He essentially, personally, taught
me how to rhyme.
Allhiphop: Did the racism and adversity you would
later face when you moved, push you further into rhyming and hip-hop?
LL: There was a time when I wanted to fit in.
I tried to fit in. I tried to get the clothes that those kids wore and stuff
like that. I wouldn’t nessecarily say that it changed my listening habits or
anything. Because that was all personal stuff. When I first showed up there,
I had Caberiches on, and black Adidas sneakers with whjite stripes. And an I.O.U.
sweater, very Long Island. They were all freaked out by this. They didn’t know
what to think. Most of them, because of fear or what, they were really really
mean to me. I got into a lot of fights. It was not an uncommon thing to walk
down the hallway and hear, "Nigger" behind me. My dad actually started
driving the school bus, cause he was bored – retirement will do that to you.
My dad had to kick me off the bus because I punched this kid in the face cause
he said, "How far do I have to chase a nigger to get these shoes?"
Those black Adidas. Crazy sh*t like that happened to me on a regular basis.
Allhiphop: Did that struggle draw you in further?
LL: Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. Yeah
I would say that it did have an influence on my me getting more involved in
urban music and just generally into Black culture. Because I didn’t know much
about it before that. And I didn’t really have any Black friends. My neighborhood
was real Italian. I started to develop this shell like, "f*ck these guys,
I’m proud to be who I am." Ican put up with a lot of sh*t about being Black.
It became a more serious thing to me. And urban music, styles of dress, hairstyles,
everything it became my guard against that. The more they pushed at me – the
more I was like, "sh*t, I’m a Malcolm X n*gga, I like sh*t like that!"
I started getting into reading about Black history, and writing more rhymes
and stuff. Buying all Black music, Black designers. It got pretty serious to
the point where my mom and dad were kinda freaked out by it for a little bit.
They were trying to be good about it. They didn’t understand what was happening.
I wrote something in my liner notes, "I want to thank my mom and dad for
adopting me and allowing me to experiment as extensively as I have to find my
voice." There was a long time where I didn’t know what to think of myself.
Because I am mixed, and I was adopted.
Allhiphop: Then onto college which sent you on
your path meeting Chops and all ?
LL: Definitley. College was the best thing that
I ever did, seriously. I mean prior to making this album. Because this [album]
is the most important thing to me I’ve ever done. Music has become everything
to me in life. But yeah, if it wasn’t for college, I don’t think I would’ve
gotten into recording music.
Allhiphop: The sound of your record is very unique.
How did you plan it out?
LL: I tried to make a record that would be a
soundtrack to your life. Whatever time period you’re in, you would listen to
these songs and it’d be so personal and so visual – like a movie without picture,
that you’d remember them and they’d imprint on whatever moment you were going
through. So let’s say you got laid or whatever, everytime you got back to that,
you’d think about listening to "Coochie Coup" or whatever. I was doing
my best to make an album without any weak songs on it. We went through pain
staking efforts to complete this project because every song on it was over-written.
If you could see the effort and detail that went into something so serious as
the "Coochie Coup" song, you’d know what I mean. I’m a perfectionist,
so I didn’t ever want to say goodbye to the recording process of completing
Allhiphop: "My Best Friend" with Apathy
is a huge track. How much truth is there to this piece?
LL: There is truth to that song in the sense,
that like anybody else, I’ve been through an experience where somebody did me
dirty. I don’t wanna be that guy that gives programmed responses to everybody’s
interview or whatever. I try not to tell people too much on how real the songs
are. Because I’m a believer in maintaining the mystique behind the music. I
don’t want people to know more than they need to. These things take mystique
out of the music when the fans are so deep in it that they know everything.
The tracks are leaked six months before the record comes out. A detailed description
in each issue of The Source of exactly what was intended by each track the album
that comes out by whoever. I think it kinda takes some of the magic out of it.
It’s seeing the strings behind the puppet show. Who really wants to do that?
I like it if the [listeners] extrapolate their own conclusions from listening
to the music. Anything on my album that I wrote, there’s definitely truth to
it. There’s some relation to my real life experiences. It’s not about whether
or not that happened to me, it’s about did that happen to you? That’s why I
wrote the song. I want the [listener] to hear that, and relate to it so they’re
Allhiphop: Your album is great in the lost art
of story-telling. How do you do it without weakening your rhymes to keep the
LL: One of the things that I always try to do
when I write a rhyme or I write a song…I always try to write rhymes that are
multi-syllabic and that are phrase rhymes rather than individual word rhymes.
I keep my structures and my cadences complicated, regardless of whether or not
I’m telling a story. If you hold yourself to a higher standard like that, it
makes it a little easier. The other thing is, you have to be interested in telling
a story. I know that Celph-Titled and Apathy, they’re working on their own projects.
And one of the things they told about mine that impressed them was that I was
able to make my concepts sound natural. [They were saying that] when they try
it, they come out forced. It’s hard to write a story and make it sound like
it’s not forced. I would guess it’s because I read a lot and listen to like
old Rock and watch a lot of old movies. That’s where most of my ideas came from
anyway. My lady-friend is a fashion designer. Her job is to travel all over,
sometimes all over the world to buy expensive clothes. That’s her job, that’s
what she does. She’s doing research. So if I veg out all day watching DVD’s
on the couch, and my job is to write Rap records – I’m doing my job, I’m doing
research. You have to also get out and experience sh*t too. Go out and taste
life, get into trouble.
Allhiphop: I myself love this line, "Hate
the mainstream, beat Dave Matthews with his guitar." That’s worth buying
the album to me in itself.
LL: I just don’t like the idea that there’s this
body of music that is the dominant choice for listeners. You get it in repition
whether it’s on MTV, Hot97, K-Rock, whatever. It doesn’t matter what genre,
there’s always a certain body of artists, music, and songs that’s the main menu
for everyone. A lot of amazing artists are out there that people don’t even
find anything out about because playlists are crammed with the same ten songs
in rotation. Video shows are the same way. It’s disgusting. I just wouldn’t
want to be a sheep. It’s wack. As far as Dave Matthews goes, I don’t like his
music first of all. Secondly, I think he totally rides on the shoulders of an
amazing rhythm section of Black guys. It’s the f*cking circus. I can’t stand
Dave Matthews. I always said to Celph, let me get on a video awards show dude!
I’ll bring a video camera and I’m gonna push that guy on his ass in front of
everybody. Watch! Dave Matthews, I’m coming to get you. I’m not even gonna hurt
him. That’s my goal, that’s the only reason I made this record – to get famous
enough so that I can meet Dave Matthews and give him a shove on to his buns.
I’m gonna put that into my video too after I do it.
Allhiphop: As an extravagant traveler and conisseur
of the bar, what’s the dopest bar you ever been to?
LL: Wow, that’s a real good question! I would
have to say KC Clingers in York, Pennslyvania. It’s f*cking amazing dude! They
have, I would say, 120 taps of real obscure, exotic, micro-crafted, and import
brews that are just unreal. Even if you got a taster, in most good beer bars,
you can ask for a taster – they’ll pour you a shot essentially of a beer. Even
if you had a taster of one of every beer in there, you’d get crippled dude.
They have amazing sh*t! For atmosphere, it’s not the best. But on beer selection
alone, it’s head and shoulders above the rest.
Allhiphop: And atmosphere?
LL: On some chilling and hanging out sh*t, I
really like the Brooklyn Alehouse. That’s my spot.
Allhiphop: We letting ‘em know?
LL: *laughing* I don’t care. It’s just like a
carnival of weirdos coming in and out of that place. And a weird cross-section
of the young person population in Brooklyn. So, you get the kids wandering in
there with doo rags and baseball hats. Then hipster art nerds with vintage clothing
and thick framed glasses on, girls with halter tops on next to girls who have
their nails done. It’s just a weird group of people. There’s always a few groups
of regulars that are sloppy, disgusting drunks. It’s a funny place.