Jimi Hendrix once said that music doesn’t lie. “If there is something to be changed in this world,” he stated, “then it can only happen through music.” And that’s what Maryland-raised rapper Logic has devoted himself and his work to.
Born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Logic is unapologetically unlike most others in the business. Anyone who follows his career knows he isn’t about the lifestyle so much as the message. The 27-year-old bi-racial musician grew up in poverty, and through his rise to fame, he’s stayed true to a goal of advocating for equality, love and respect.
“I looked at where we are in the world and realized that millions of people listen to my voice, and I do have a voice,” Logic said in an interview with Rolling Stone about his gold-certified album Everybody. The album speaks to topics like drug abuse, racism, domestic violence, suicide and mental health.
In terms of the issues the album tackles, Logic leaves no stone unturned, and fittingly, his music has touched so many. Millions came out for the first leg of the Everybody’s Tour that began in Salt Lake City on July 7 and lasted through August 26 in Toronto — and director/photographer Mike Holland has been there for it all.
Holland, 23, is in charge of tour photography, but also manages other media content with director/photographer Justin Fleischer including the Everybody documentary on the iTunes deluxe album.
Holland describes the Everybody’s Tour as the “live version of the album, which stands for peace, love, positivity and acceptance of anybody no matter who you are.” As the lyrics state in ‘Take It Back,’ Logic’s message is one of “equality for every man, woman and child regardless of race, religion, colour, creed and sexual orientation.”
Life on tour is both demanding and fun. “Yes there’s a lot of celebrating and some partying, but it’s a lot of work,” Holland says. “If you treat every night like the weekend it will catch up to you. But mainly it’s nonstop travelling, which is exhausting, but equally amazing because you get to see so much of the country and world.”
Holland talks about how he appreciates the ability as a photographer not only to experience great music, but also to “take a time out and look into the crowd.” Seeing fans’ reactions to the music, seeing them laugh and cry, creates the magic that translates through Holland’s lens. “You can see how personally it affects so many people…and everyone in the crowd becomes a family. People go to these concerts by themselves, and by the end, they leave with a whole new group of friends.”
Up until recently, Holland captured these moments on a camera he’s used for six years — a Canon 5D Mark III — the same camera he used to make skateboarding videos back in high school. But there’s nothing lackluster about the photos taken during the Everybody’s Tour. Holland’s technique, developed from raw talent, makes for remarkable shots regardless of equipment.
Holland says there are photos he’s required to take every show such as close-ups and ones of each crowd. But the “perfect shot,” for him, isn’t during these moments, it is “the moment that’s captured beautifully and can’t be replicated in another show.” And each performance merits instances like this: when Logic brings someone on stage or “funny, unexpected” bits unique to that night.
Holland continues, “We had 32 shows on tour, and it’s really refreshing to have moments like that, that you haven’t captured the other 31 times.”
Holland actually broke his ankle on the first day of the Everybody’s Tour. When Logic’s management offered to bring in another photographer, Holland said he wouldn’t have it because he’d been “waiting so long for this.” For almost five weeks of the six-week tour, he figured out how to climb flights of stairs and navigate entire amphitheatres in a boot.
Like a true pro, Holland learned to be efficient. But he’s used it — this wasn’t his first time roaming the world with Logic and his crew. This marks his fourth official tour, and it all started on the Welcome to Forever Tour back in 2013 based on the musician’s fourth mixtape. Holland was just a freshman in college, and he’d miss weeks of school at a time and says it wasn’t easy. That tour, where Logic performed in small ballrooms or large bars instead of packed arenas, was a completely different experience for him.
“I just knew a lot of mutual friends who connected me to the Logic camp back when I was a freshman,” Holland explains. “When I started with Logic in 2013 we traveled in one caravan that hooked up to a truck. … There was no catering and the shower situation was dismal. Now, we travel on four different high-end tour buses to every city. We get our own hotel rooms on the off-days. I’m just glad I did the struggle tour first so I can really appreciate this now.”
During the first tour, Holland says that Logic gave him specific instructions about what he wanted for creative content. But now, even if the rapper, who Holland describes as “super hands-on,” has an idea of what he wants photographed or documented, there’s more freedom. “It’s been five years and there is a great level of trust,” he says.
Holland refers to Logic as Bob or “Bobby” and describes him as “a great friend and the best possible boss to have.” In fact, during the last night of the American/Canadian leg of Everybody’s Tour, Logic pulled him on stage: “I was taking pictures on the side of the stage of him rapping. The song cut into an instrumental part and he comes and grabs me and we start slow dancing in front thousands of people in the crowd.”
Holland says there’s “no one secret” to it all. “You have to non-stop work as hard as you can at your craft so that when you get the right opportunity or the right eyes, then it has the highest chance of working out for you.”
With over 32K followers on Instagram, the director/photographer has become quite well known. You look at his photos and they exude life — you hear Logic spitting verse and diving deep into theatrical monologues. You feel the electricity of the crowd and witness what happens when people embrace art and a profound yet simple message of love for one another.
Along with his photography, Holland is releasing a documentary this autumn called “Seven Dates With Death.” It’s the story of the late Moreese Bickham, the oldest surviving man on death row, produced by Bickham’s long-time friend Joan Cheever. But before that, he’ll be back on the road for the 13-city European leg of tour starting October 19.
As for the future, Holland says he’ll continue to strive toward goals of furthering his career and hopes to produce more documentaries for film or television. He also reveals that he’ll follow Logic as the musician shifts gears to venture into the world of acting, editing and writing.
Working with Logic, Holland says, has always felt right — like being a part of his creative journey was bound to happen. “I knew I would end up working with him one day,” Holland admits. “Even though that seems ridiculous, somewhere in the back of my head, I knew.”
Words by Samantha Brodsky
Lead image by Justin Fleischer