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Logic’s Album, Which Features Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ansel Elgort, Seems Interesting?

DOVER, DE - JUNE 19: Rapper Logic performs onstage during day 2 of the Firefly Music Festival on June 19, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Firefly)

Today has brought us tracklists for two anticipated upcoming rap albums, and they couldn’t be more different. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. features only two guestsRihanna and U2—who, aside from whatever they contribute musically, function as enviable status symbols. Logic‘s Everybody, meanwhile, sports a deep, bizarre, and intriguing cast of characters—and that’s only the beginning.

Rappers often seem to operate with a pack mentality when it comes to collaborations. There’s always a certain group of artists it feels like show up on more rap albums than not in a given time period. Recently, that group has included Future, Young Thug, Migos, 2 Chainz, Ty Dolla $ign, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, exactly—all of those artists are great, and placing any of them in a new context allows us to hear them in a way we might not otherwise, as Drake did in coaxing a uniquely personal verse out of Young Thug on More Life‘s “Sacrifices.” But it also means that the ever dwindling supply of actual rap “albums” can feel interchangeable, a trend that mirrors the industry’s consolidation as a whole.

The new album by Logic, a 27-year-old rapper from Maryland, will not have that problem. Everybody, his third official release on Def Jam, looks like this:

What an objectively incredible collection of words! Killer Mike, Black Thought, Chuck D, Juicy J. A song called “Black SpiderMan” featuring Broadway actor Damian Lemar Hudson. “AfricAryaN” featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson. A song featuring Ansel Elgort and a song title that is just the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Could those last two be related?

Still, this is only scratching the surface. As you can see at the top of the image, Everybody is billed as “starring” the celebrity astrophysicist Tyson and BIGVON, a longtime DJ and radio personality on 106 KMEL, the premier rap station in the Bay Area. Logic’s image doesn’t state what exactly “starring” means, but retweeted something that, well…

In an interview explaining the album with the site Hard Knock TV, Logic explains that the album was inspired by the novel The Martian, which is about an astronaut stranded on Mars who has to improvise his way back to Earth. (You may have seen the movie starring Matt Damon.) Logic says that he contacted the book’s author, Andy Weir, to get his permission to loosely base his album around the book, to which Weir said yes. “I had the idea to do the skits,” Logic says of the album’s structure. “But then it hit me: What if I actually rapped from the perspective of all the lives this guy is living?” A great question indeed.

In the interview, Logic talks at length about how he doesn’t think anyone should draw lines around his music, and, you know, as someone who is not a fan of his music, I agree. More albums with Ansel Elgort and Killer Mike on back-to-back songs. At least from this one guy.