Who is Logic? Breakout Rapper Behind '1-800-273-8255' on Why He's Not Always the 'Dude With the Message'

You may not have heard about Logic before he hit the stage at the 2017 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday night. Granted, the rapper does have a faithful legion of fans who have been supporting him since his first official mixtape dropped in 2010, but after his powerful performance of his hit song, “1-800-273-8255”—which literally left many in the VMA audience in tears—the Maryland native may finally be a household name.

The inspirational track, which features rap newcomer Khalid and singer Alessia Cara, is an emotional plea for survival that encourages listeners to fight for their lives, stay alive and overcome feelings of suicide. Since the song’s release in April—it appears on Logic’s third studio album, Everybody, that debuted in May—“1-800-273-8255” has seemingly become a suicide prevention anthem, resulting in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which the track is named after, to receive some of the highest call volumes in its history.

But the messaging in Logic’s music extends far beyond matters of suicide. Following his VMA performance (he also won an award for Best Fight Against the System for his “Black SpiderMan”), Newsweek got the chance to chat with the 27-year-old on Wednesday about his multifaceted raps and how he’s empowering people through his music.

Check out the full interview with Logic below:

What was the inspiration behind 1-800-273-8255?
I think it was the same thing that was the inspiration behind the entire Everybody album, because I take pride in creating albums. I’m not a single artist. But when I created this song I never thought anybody in the world was gonna play it on the radio; like really, you’re going to play a song about suicide on the radio? And I think it was one of those things where I’ve just been blessed enough to have an undeniable song that people needed and wanted, and [they] wanted to spread awareness so much that it became hopefully what it’s still becoming. I like to always do my best to make music catchy, so I think a very catchy melody is cool. But the fact that it does spread awareness is also something that’s really special. I think there’s a lot of people who may have never necessarily heard my name, but I think there are people that kinda more fuck with rap and hip hop and they’re like, “Oh yea Logic, cool cool cool yea cool.” But this song and whatever’s happening with it right now is really opening people’s eyes to then go and listen to the album as a whole and realize that there’s so much more than this. I have an entire song called “Anxiety.” I got a song about racism from every end. I got songs about being broke, being on welfare, being poor, Section 8. It literally goes on and on and I’m really excited and happy to know that a single, if you will, from [the album] is really shedding light on who I am and the message I spread as a whole.

When you first released the song in April the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline had its second highest daily call volume in its history, and after your performance at the MTV VMAs on Sunday the hotline had about a 50% increase in calls. How does that make you feel?
That makes me feel so good, just because to know there are people out there that could be hurting or uneducated or not knowing of a place or people that they can talk to...it really makes me feel so happy to know that I’m using my platform to make an impact. And I hope that doesn’t sound extra, because it’s not about me. It’s about the message and it’s about the people. But just being a human, it really makes me feel special and makes me smile and get excited to know that there are people out there who are being helped or at least being given the opportunity to be helped and to help themselves because of a song that I made that was initially inspired by those people to begin with.

You don’t rap a lot about the party life and drug culture that seems to be really popular in hip hop these days. What’s the driving force behind that difference?
I think there’s a time and place. I have a mixtape called Bobby Tarantino and that is totally some turn-up shit, but the funny thing is that there’s still always an underlining message to it. I’m not trippin, like if you wanna smoke weed and you wanna drink and have a good time and have fun, that’s fine. We’re human. Enjoy yourself. You work hard every day, you deserve to turn up on the weekends with your friends. What I’m trying to establish is being the artist that when you wake up with that hangover after you were at the club and you’re looking for something to play, you’ll play real music like myself, from someone who's gonna make you think about your life and your problems instead of trying to drown them away with drugs and alcohol. So for me, when I do trap music, it’s a fun release. It’s a fun outlet because I’m not serious all the time. I’m not the dude with the message. I’m a human being with different sides, different shades and different emotions, different feelings. One day I wanna tell the whole world I want them to be alive and continue to fight for themselves and whatever their dreams and ambitions are. And then another day I’m gonna be like, “Yo, let’s fucking turn up over this trap beat on some 2 Chainz shit because this is fun.” So I think the biggest thing is that my whole career they’ve tried to put me in a box, especially in hip hop. And I’m just gonna use my platform to spread a positive message but make whatever music however I want whenever I want. That’s the kind of goal for me.

You mentioned using your platform to spread a positive message. With everything that’s going on in the country these days and the aftermath of Charlottesville, do you feel a bigger responsibility to advocate for acceptance and to address social issues because of that platform?
No, I don’t feel a responsibility to use my platform to do this. I think every single artist selfishly makes their music. This is the real thing: I like to make music because it’s fun. I like to make music because it sounds good. I like to make music because I get to go perform it in front of thousands of people, and I can’t believe it. It’s a dream that I always wanted. However, with that being said, I want to use my voice to promote positivity. I want to use my voice to discuss the things that are going on in the world. However, I refuse to also let it consume me. It’s fucked up, but think about news. You look at news and it’s like, “11-year-old girl got stabbed by her father.” It’s like the most fucked up shit. And if I am constantly living that and talking about those things all the time, I’m not gonna be a happy person because of how fucked up this world is. But I also believe that the world is beautiful, and that’s why I think there is time for me to also selfishly make fun music or happy music or conceptual music. So I think there is a balance. But once again, I don’t feel a responsibility because I never signed up for that. What I feel is the want to discuss those things. It makes me feel good to know that I want to do that shit.

The big thing that made me make this album was—and obviously it’s still extremely important, but I think you know what I mean when I say this—people on social media go “Black Lives Matter!” and hashtag this and doing all this stuff. I’m all for that shit, but I’m not the dude that’s gonna go tweeting about a bunch of black men and women who were gunned down in the street and I don’t even know what the hell’s going on. It’s happening so much that I haven’t truly investigated the situation. What I mean is to know what’s happening, where [the victims] were from and where [the victims'] family is. And then you have so many other people, both artists and not, who will just tweet, “This is messed up and blah blah blah” on the [victim’s] behalf and it’s like, I don’t even wanna disrespect their family by putting out a tweet about somebody that I don’t even know. So people are like, “How come you’re not tweeting Black Lives Matter? What are you not black enough? Are you not this? Are you not that?” And I’m like, “Holy shit.” I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on [while] people are demeaning my blackness or the lack there of because I’m not hashtagging some shit on Twitter. And that’s the thing that inspired me to make this album, to say, “Nah. Fuck no. I’m not gonna hashtag some shit to live on Twitter for two seconds. I’m gonna make an album about it so that it will live forever. And I’m gonna take my time. I’m gonna do my research and I’m gonna make sure I do the best I can to do these men and women who have been slain in the streets justice by taking the time to fight and create a platform to then talk about equality.”

You’ve been grinding consistently for a few years with your mixtapes and albums. So what’s next for you?
I think what’s next for me is a celebration to all of this. My first few albums I did a lot of talking about myself. This album I’m talking about the people and everybody else. And I think whenever it comes—because I’ve been so overworked I haven’t even had a chance to begin working on new music—I think it’s going to be a celebration. I’m excited. I love to rap, but I do wanna make pop music. And when I say that I mean, like Michael Jackson and Adele and all those great culture artists. Sometimes I think there’s a misconception like pop music is bad music. That’s not what I mean. I wanna sing. I wanna play the piano. I wanna learn to do all these different things, transcend myself as best as I can. So I think what’s next is a lot of learning as a musician and a man and a lot of integrating that into the music. And at the end of the day, just having a good time, because, after an album like this that will live and be there, I think I should also give something to the people to lift their spirits as well and make them think but also have a good time.

For the people who may not be familiar with you, who is Logic?
Logic is a young man who just wants to make music, make people happy and spread a message of peace, love and positivity.