DJ Logic came of age during the golden age of hip-hop and paid his dues in Living Colour and Ice-T’s Body Count before finding a wider audience playing with Medeski, Martin, and Wood. He followed up with a successful solo career and collaborations even wider afield. With Logic, anything’s possible — jazzy introspection, elliptical experimentation, groove-laden head trips, dance-floor get-downs, and world-beat boogie. From the beginning, he has been a voracious listener with an omnivore’s taste.
“Growing up in the Bronx, I had a lot of culture around me. I heard a lot of sounds from hip-hop to Latin and Caribbean music to soul,” says Logic (born Jason Kibler). “I was just enjoying buying records, learning who made them, their history and where they came from — jazz and blues and rock — and following that whole history.”
A roving ethnomusicologist, Logic learns from the past, but he doesn’t repeat it. “There are a lot of dope sounds out there, but you also have to be creative in kind of tweaking it out and making the sound your sound. It’s all about being a mad scientist and coming up with your sound that’s so unique, and that’s how people recognize you and your stuff,” he says.
Logic got his start spinning records at community centers before joining alternative rock act Eye & I. The band recorded a single self-titled album for Epic in 1991 and played a show at New York’s Knitting Factory where Logic met Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid. Reid was looking to play with a turntablist and invited Logic out on tour with him. The pair formed a fast friendship that’s still alive today, and since their first meeting, they’ve released two records — 2002’s Front End Lifter and 2004’s The Tao of Yo — as the Yohimbe Brothers.
“During the time we [first] played together, I kind of grew into my own,” he says. “Over the years touring with Vernon and doing different projects I learned a lot. Vernon was like a teacher and a brother to me.”
Logic went from touring with Reid to Ice T’s metal band, Body Count, and then hooked up with Medeski, Martin, and Wood, who were returning to their experimental roots. Logic and Reid played with MMW live during this time, and the DJ joined the group on their Combustication album in 1998. It was MMW’s first release for Blue Note and their first to crack the Billboard albums chart.
A year later Logic made his solo debut with Project Logic. Two years later, he followed with Anomaly, a terrific release that builds upon its predecessor and demonstrates even more confidence. On the LP, the music flows easily from electronic dance grooves to jazzy fugues and hip-hop breaks, with appearances from Reid and John Medeski. Anomaly is funkier and less cerebral than Project Logic and much more suited for the stage than headphones.
“I kind of analyzed my crowd and the music I love to play and love to hear, and I incorporated some of that into my production,” Logic says. “Just watching people enjoying the beats and sounds that I was laying down gave me the inspiration in how I wanted to do the next record.”
That kicked off a prolific half-dozen years during which Logic released another great solo album (2006’s Zen of Logic), teamed with Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previtte (2005’s Longitude), recorded the two Yohimbe Brothers albums, and collaborated with blues harmonica legend John Popper. In 2008, Logic formed Global Noize with trumpeter Jason Miles and released an album.
For DJ Logic, working with so many different musicians is like playing basketball. “It’s like picking your starting five in basketball — you have this role, he has this role,” he says. “We’re all passing the ball around and we’re all listening to each other and everyone’s contributing to something beautiful.”
Logic just released the Are You Ready EP, which explores an acid-soul dreamscape, mixing subtle jazz, squiggly hip-hop samples, and hypnotic loops that sound like Charlie Parker on repeat.
These days, Logic has a project with avant garde guitarist Marc Ribot called Caged Funk, which involves reinterpreting the music of John Cage and features Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and drummer J.T. Lewis (Roy Ayers, Stanley Jordan). He’s also working on an album with prodigy Beka Gochiashvili, the youngest winner of the Montreux Jazz Piano Competition. That one is expected to hit the shelves by the end of August. There’s also a new Logic album on the horizon.
“It’s hard to stay still,” he says. “I always want to stay creative and just stay active. I love what I do, and I love working with people that like working with me. And that’s why we do what we do, because we love what we do.”