(SOUNDBITE OF LOGIC SONG, "PERFECT")
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
At the beginning of the pandemic, superstar rapper Logic was arguably at his peak. Hit songs, sold-out tours, performing at the Grammys - he had it all.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERFECT")
LOGIC: (Rapping) I did it. I made it. I'm loved, and I'm hated. I started from the bottom. Now my neighborhood is gated. They say, drink to your accomplishments, so every night I'm faded. Feel like every other day me and somebody new related. You my sister...
MARTINEZ: Then in July of 2020, seemingly out of nowhere, he announced his retirement. Recently, I asked him why.
LOGIC: Well, I had a child, first and foremost. I wanted to be there for his birth. I wanted to be there for his first steps, his first words. I wanted to hold him and love him and change his diaper and learn how to install the car seat and be there for my wife. And I did that, and I am still doing that.
MARTINEZ: Logic's own childhood was difficult.
LOGIC: I think, statistically, I'm not supposed to be here, you know? My parents are drug addicts, alcoholics, you know, violent people, criminals. And somehow I made it out. It's kind of insane how simple it is to actually be a good parent (laughter) 'cause, like, I doubted myself, even as a father. Every day I doubt myself - a husband.
LOGIC: And I think it's that - those things that, like, keep me in check 'cause I really do care so much. But it's a sad thing to know that all I needed to have a good childhood were parents who were, one, present - like, literally, there 'cause they weren't - and, two, you know, not addicts and hurt, broken people. And unfortunately, those were the cards that I was dealt. But I think in return, it truly taught me to appreciate and showed me the values that I have today as a man and as a father.
MARTINEZ: But it wasn't just fatherhood that led Logic away from the rap world.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INSIDE")
LOGIC: (Rapping) I'm feeling depressed. I'm feeling like less, like I'm not my best. Anxiety got me. I'm stressed. I see my name in the press. I feel the weight of the world on my chest. I feel the weight of the world on my heart. And the pain that I feel is tearing me apart. Feel like I just can't escape from the dark. But I'm doing my part.
MARTINEZ: He was also struggling with the realities of fame.
LOGIC: It's very difficult to go on the internet and watch people call your baby ugly or say your wife is a whore.
LOGIC: And they don't even know you. That's, I think, the most difficult side of things, that you put your heart and soul into something and because there's this bias, people tend to just hate it. But there's also overwhelming amounts of love. But for a person in my position, the loud minority really does break through. Like, if I looked at my phone right now, I could find a crazy comment essentially telling me to kill myself or why I should stay retired. Literally, all I represent is love and dope rhymes. And, you know, people want to crucify you for it. But also, my house in Malibu ain't bad. You know what I'm saying?
LOGIC: So I can cry out on the porch looking at the ocean, and life's great.
MARTINEZ: Are those tears or the Pacific Ocean on your face? (Laughter).
LOGIC: Yeah, I know.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "1-800-273-8255")
LOGIC: (Singing) I've been on the low. I've been taking my time. I feel like I'm out of my mind. It feel like my life ain't mine. Who can relate? Woo (ph).
MARTINEZ: Logic often takes on the topic of mental health in his music. The biggest hit of his career was named after the National Suicide Hotline phone number - 1-800-273-8255. He says he wrote it after fans told him that his music saved their lives. But he wasn't even trying to do that. So what would happen if he intentionally tried to direct people to the suicide hotline?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "1-800-272-8255")
LOGIC: (Singing) It can be hard. It can be so hard. But you got to live right now. You got everything to give right now.
MARTINEZ: When I think about the legacy of that song, "1-800," I mean, I saw a study from the British Medical Journal that found that the song actually increased calls to the suicide hotline. I mean, that's a song that saves lives. I know people say that music saves lives, but, I mean, this song literally probably saved lives.
LOGIC: You know what I love about my career, man? I was blessed enough to have platinum plaques, selling millions of records before I ever had a hit record, and I love that for the rest of my life, I'm going to be the suicide guy (laughter). Like, I actually love it because it's like, man, you know, it's not, respectfully, Oppa Gangnam Style (ph). Like, it's, like, a song that affects people. And yeah, I can't believe it, dude. It's my biggest accomplishment outside of, you know, creating my son. And I'm really proud of myself, man. So - and not to say - I'm just like...
LOGIC: I think - my therapist tells me I'm not nice to myself, as nice to myself as I can be. And this is just a moment here on the radio where I'm patting myself on the back because you telling me that right now and saying those statistics, it makes me smile, and it makes me happy. And I just want to take a moment to thank you for allowing me to just, I don't know, appreciate this song and what it's done for others and for me and for my career, man, for real.
MARTINEZ: Logic's retirement was a short one. Last year, he announced that he was coming out of retirement. He wanted to do things differently, to be an independent artist, but he was still contractually obligated to make one more album for his record label, Def Jam. So last week he released "Vinyl Days," which marked his final days with the label.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROGUE ONE")
LOGIC: (Rapping) Made a couple pop songs, made a hundred million, gross, made a life for myself, for every night I need a toast. I was doing the most, said [expletive] rap, watch me ghost. I been raising my son, blazing for fun, basking in the rays of the sun on my face. Took a step back. [Expletive], I think I finally found my happy place. They say...
MARTINEZ: You've been with Def Jam for almost your entire career. What are you looking forward to the most as an independent artist? And what does that mean for you?
LOGIC: I'm so hyped to not be told no. So that's a great thing.
MARTINEZ: (Laughter) Not be told no.
LOGIC: Yeah, I have this great idea. No. Hey, I want to shoot this music video. No. You know, I've really amassed such an incredible fan base. I've been blessed to make the right moves as a businessman, financially. There's nothing I need from the music industry anymore. I've hit every pinnacle. I've sold out Madison Square Garden. I did everything. And now I'm like, you know what? I just want to have fun. And if that - if me having fun means that I'm not strategically planning an unorganic (ph) hit single and da-da-da-da (ph) and because of that, I can't do the Garden anymore and I have to do Radio City at 6,000 people instead of the Garden at however many, well, so be it. If I'm happy and there's 1,200 people, if I'm happy and there's 500 people, that's all that matters to me. I would rather have amassed the financial stability that I have, take a U-turn in making music that maybe isn't so popular to go out on a stage happy.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VINYL DAYS")
LOGIC: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Vinyl days.
MARTINEZ: That's Logic. His new album is called "Vinyl Days." Logic, thanks a lot.
LOGIC: Thank you, man.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VINYL DAYS")
LOGIC: (Rapping) On the road to success, but y'all idle.
Yo, that was fire. You're kind of good at this (laughter).
MARTINEZ: Oh, no (laughter).
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VINYL DAYS")
LOGIC: (Rapping) Let's get it on. All I need is one mic, one pen, one page to ignite. Subject matter happy, but the flow is MC Lyte. You mad as...
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.