Logic is more than a rapper — at least, that’s how he sees himself. This much became apparent on Tuesday, when he A) released Supermarket, his debut novel, which tells the story of a depressed 24-year-old deadbeat named Flynn who takes a job at a grocery store in his rural Oregon town, and B) released Supermarket (Soundtrack), the novel’s 13-track musical companion, which finds him diving headlong into the world of 1990s and 2000s alternative rock. The album begins inauspiciously, with a seven-minute stoner odyssey titled “Bohemian Trapsody.” [Find the book on Amazon]
If all this seems like a terrible idea, that’s because it is. During his rise to international stardom, Logic has presented himself as two parts MC, one part secular preacher. Gone on Supermarket is his slick machine gun flow. Instead, he resolutely sets out into unfamiliar musical waters, embracing singing and rock tropes with the same fatal self-assurance as John Allen Chau, the missionary who famously died under a hail of arrows while trying to convert an isolated island tribe in the Indian Ocean last fall.
Logic’s sudden rebrand as a novelist-cum-Rivers Cuomo impressionist isn’t nearly as shocking as it should be. He has a habit of creatively over-extending himself; on his ambitious 2017 concept album Everybody, he floated half-baked ideas about inclusivity and race and prominently featured Neil deGrasse Tyson as the voice of God. Logic appears to see himself as a human DONDA chart who, through the power of peace, love, and positivity, can achieve anything he sets his mind to. And so, with this combination of naivety and hubris, he has now delivered a suite of vapid love songs that sound as though they were written and recorded in 2004 by a bright-eyed 14-year-old who knows four guitar chords and worships Ben Folds. Supermarket is bold yet bland, determined yet derivative, and lacking in anything resembling self-awareness or personal vision.
Supermarket is filled with crude, soft-edged approximations of existing alt-rock songs that make Logic sound like he’s singing over a series of unauthorized karaoke backing tracks. “Pretty Young Girl” borrows the wistful piano countermelody of Semisonic’s “Closing Time”; “Supermarket,” the summer-ready guitar strums of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So”; “Time Machine,” the imperiled balladry of Radiohead’s “Karma Police.” The fingerprints of Matchbox Twenty, Dave Matthews, and Coldplay are all over the album, as are those of the Red Hot Chili Peppers; on the odious “Lemon Drop,” Logic shamelessly apes Anthony Kiedis as he drops toothless Rick and Morty references and boasts about using pot to “get litty.”
That Logic wears his influences on his sleeve isn’t inherently bad, especially considering this is his first proper foray into rock music. He is severely limited, however, by his flat singing voice. He has used it sparingly up to this point in his career, and the fact that he relies on it so heavily on Supermarket suggests that he was feeling gassed up after his melodic 2018 single “Everyday” cracked the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100. Far worse than his singing is his songwriting, which ranges from baffling (“If you a crybaby bitch, I’mma fuck your mom”) to brutal (“I built a time machine for you / But you always die, no matter what I do to”) and is often both at the same time (belting the entire hook of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” over an off-brand “Drops of Jupiter” instrumental). Even the attachment between novel and soundtrack feels tenuous; across thirteen tracks, Logic reveals little about the narrator, his experiences, or the girl with whom he is infatuated.
The highlights of Supermarket pop up whenever Logic veers away from the alt-rock aesthetic. The few moments he does rap are breaths of fresh air, as are the two songs that lean into R&B: “Can I Kick It,” which features a pleasant vocal turn from the Atlanta singer Juto, and “I’m Probably Gonna Rock Your World,” one of two songs on the album that Mac DeMarco co-produced.
Supermarket exists on a different plane than Juice WRLD, Dominic Fike, XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, and the new generation of artists eager to bridge hip hop’s sounds and tropes with those of rock. It has more in common with Lil Wayne’s Rebirth and Kid Cudi’s Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven, both disastrous rock experiments carried out by established rappers that today serve as cautionary tales. It’s possible that Logic took the $30 million deal he inked with Def Jam this time last year as license to roll out his vision for himself as Donald Glover-esque multi-hyphenate. Supermarket is hard proof that big stars still dream, and that big dreams sometimes die hard.