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Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011

Logic and Raze's Easy Collaboration

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Milwaukee rappers Logic and Raze each recorded very different albums last year. One of the many ex-members of the defunct Milwaukee superhero-themed alternative-rap ensemble House of M, Raze last summer released his second solo album, Living in Technocolor, a personable collection of average-Joe rants broken up by whimsical tangents. That record's smirking tone was worlds removed from the death, addiction and madness that permeated Dreams of Sex and Flying, the aggressively bleak album from Logic's group, The Hollowz.

To judge them by those records alone, the two rappers would be unlikely collaborators, but they're more alike than those records reveal. Despite his tortured narratives on Dreams of Sex and Flying, Logic is a fun-loving, brew-swilling party rapper at heart, while Raze is a creatively restless type, who had been looking for ways to shake the goofball image House of M left him with.

"This year I wanted to make an album that wasn't a traditional solo album, where it was mostly me rapping, but rather an album that focused primarily on my production and that featured other artists," Raze explains. "I didn't want to fall back into the regular sound that people were used to hearing from me. You get kind of bored doing the same thing again and again."

As part of that project, Raze composed the song "Off My Rocker," a Prince Paul-styled take on mental illness that, while plenty loopy, was a shade darker than Raze's typical work. He immediately thought of Logic for a guest spot on the track—who better to riff on insanity than the guy who just made a full album about it?—and that collaboration led to more. "After he dropped his verse on that track, I sent him home with three or four more unfinished tracks, and not even a week later he hits me back with concepts and the beginnings of bars and verses for all of them," Raze recalls. "Hearing what he was writing, I got inspired to start writing myself, even though I hadn't planned on rapping too much on this record. It just ballooned, until we had five or six songs together, and eventually a full album."

Raze describes the recording sessions for what became the duo's new collaboration album, ...STILL Untitled, as the easiest, most comfortable he's ever experienced. "We went wherever a particular beat took us," he says. "We'd be recording one song, and next thing Logic would say something that would inspire another train of thought, and we'd just follow that one. So this project that started off being very much a whim turned into us making some of the best music we've ever made."

Logic says he appreciated the break from heavy, foreboding hip-hop.

"The Dreams of Sex and Flying project turned out so dark that following it up with something like this was refreshing," Logic says. "I never felt that I had to get that sadistic or that dark on this project. That's not to say that I ever felt forced to do that on past projects. It can be fulfilling and therapeutic to record stuff that's darker. It can almost be necessary sometimes, depending on where I'm at. But when we were working on this project we were coming into the spring and summer, and you're in a different place mentally around that time. During that time of the year, you want to work on something that's a little more lighthearted, a little more fun."

The rappers predict that ...STILL Untitled won't be a one-off collaboration. Raze says the two easily have enough unexplored ideas for another album together, and Logic says he'd like to tour with Raze, something he can't do with The Hollowz since family obligations keep Hollowz producer Ed Cayce from being on the road for too long.

"I'd really like to take a couple months off and hit some towns we've never played before," Logic says. "Raze is such a passionate person about his music, and we're both so excited for people to hear it that I think that effort would really pay off."

Logic and Raze play an album release show Friday, Nov. 11, at the Cactus Club with Soultron, Klassik and The NightKrawlers.
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