Longtime Columbus emcee drops knowledge for up-and-comers on latest collaboration with Lucid Optics
Four years ago, just before Columbus MC Illogic was about to perform at the Honey Hive Gallery in San Francisco, an opening set by San Jose producer/rapper/singer Lucid Optics caught his ear.
“His beats were insane. I talked to him afterwards and asked, ‘Who produced your stuff?' And he said he did,” Illogic said recently during an interview Downtown. “I just asked him right then and there if he wanted to work on an album together.”
After four years of emailing tracks back and forth in a long-distance collaboration, the resulting 10-track album, Lucid Logic, is here; the rapper will celebrate with an album-release show on Sunday, Sept. 3 at Double Happiness. (The performance was intended to be the final show on a month-long tour, but due to some unexpected family issues, Illogic had to cancel the tour.)
Unlike other Illogic albums, the record contains no samples. It's synth-based, with all the beats created from scratch and bearing the clean, sparkly production of Lucid Optics. “He's one of the most talented people I've ever met in my life,” Illogic said.
The creative partnership yielded some of the most direct and plainspoken songs in the veteran rapper's career, which began back in the late '90s and extends to the present day as the MC continues his prolific tendencies. And now that Illogic has reached the status of hip-hop elder statesman, he increasingly finds himself in a mentor role similar to the one local rapper Blueprint has played for him. (The two have a musical partnership in the duo Greenhouse, and also team up to produce the podcast “Super Duty Tough Work.”)
On Lucid Logic track “Dear Alante,” Illogic doles out advice not to another rapper but to a younger brother — one he's never met.
“When I was born, my biological father was in jail. He didn't raise me,” Illogic said. “The first time I met him, that I can recall, I was 13. I grew up without knowing my father, and [Alante] is in the same position. He's my brother through my father, but my father didn't raise him, either.”
In the track, Illogic traces the path of his own life, from acting out in his youth to finding perspective as he grew older and started his own family (the rapper is father to three boys). “Life's the art of drawing a self-portrait with no eraser,” he tells his younger brother, offering lifelines in a trying situation.
“I felt like I was kind of thrown away by my father. I didn't feel like he wanted to know who I was. It messes you up. That was part of my depression as a kid. Even though I had my stepfather, he wasn't my father, and I always wanted to know why my father wasn't there,” Illogic said. “In that sense, that's the only thing [Alante and I] have to relate to each other. And also with him being in Cincinnati in a turmoil-ridden environment… . I grew up in the hood, as well. I had the gangs around me. I had friends doing drugs and selling drugs. I see the parallels of our youth, even though I don't know who he is.”
“The crux of that song,” Illogic said, “is you can still survive this. There is still light at the end of the tunnel, because I survived it.”