It's been almost half a decade since Illogic dropped his last record on Weightless, Celestial Clockwork. Produced by Blueprint, the somber, sometimes depressing wintry masterpiece came on the heels of high-profile collaborations with equally moody peers Aesop Rock, Eyedea and Slug during the height of the indie-rap boom.
Five years later, Illogic returns to Weightless with the much more lighthearted Diabolical Fun, heralded by a CD release party this Friday.
In the time between, Illogic did a series of smaller releases on Dove Ink, a label he ran with lifelong friend Eyamme. Sitting on Skully's patio, where Illogic will be celebrating his return to Weightless, the rapper discussed his hiatus from the label.
"I had some discomfort with dealing with Weightless at the time," he explained. "There were other things happening behind the scenes that none of us were aware of. At the start, Dove Ink was created to be an outlet outside of Weightless. It ended up replacing Weightless, unbeknownst to us."
The skinny among those in the know (me included, as a promoter of Weightless events for four years) involves personality clashes and relationship-ending snubs, as well as some of the biggest names in local hip-hop. But all of this is behind Weightless, and Illogic.
Metaphorically and literally, Diabolical Fun stands in stark contrast from the past 10 years of Illogic's winter.
The album is produced by Cincy transplant Ill Poetic, who Illogic bonded with while on tour with Danger Zone. The bass thumps in a manner that should keep a smile reverberating on the lips. The lyrical content invokes a call for warmth in hip-hop.
Illogic's classically metered flow is still intact. He's no longer staring in disgust at his own reflection, as he did through older songs like "Hate in A Puddle." His new disc could fit in at a barbecue between De La Soul's Stakes Is High and Souls of Mischief's 93 'til Infinity.
"I wanted to turn 180 from Celestial," Illogic said of the new record. "If you are listening to Celestial and it's sunny outside, then something needs to be changed in your life. This record is really bright."
The release party should mirror the album's mood. The line-up has a wear-a-jacket, hold-your-girlfriend's-hand vibe, with R&B singer Middle Child opening, and J-Rawls, DJ Manwell and Bottom Brick also performing. According to Illogic, this is like Envelope playing with a rock band.