8MatikLogan. Photo by Isiah "ThoughtPoet" Veney

With long hair, dark nails, and an “emo” demeanor, Logan, better known these days as 8MatikLogan, is an anomaly among Chicago hip-hop artists. Since the “blog era” days—a time period between 2011 and 2014 when underground artists were covered extensively by bloggers—he’s worked tirelessly to elevate his music, has appeared on True Star Magazine’s Chicago Legends issue with Dreezy and D Low, collabed with Saba of Pivot Gang and Taylor Bennett, and has rebranded countless times right before our eyes. 

After dropping his debut mixtape in 2015, Logan’s musical reputation began to reach beyond Chicago. He is touted as an inspiration by many of his artistic peers. But even with all the light his career has afforded him, Logan has been met with just as much darkness. The countless loss of loved ones to gun violence and incarceration, a Xanax addiction, and his near-death experience, almost getting shot in the head, has left him emotionally numb and full of pain, which feeds the authenticity and transparency we see and hear in his music. 

It’s hard to put Logan in a box, but the great thing is he won’t let you put him in one. He’s lived in various Chicago neighborhoods and is of Puerto Rican, Dominican, Italian, and Mexican descent. And he’s more than a musical artist—his work is a unique sensory experience—extending his creativity into the arts, community organizing, writing books, and much more. 

In this interview, we discussed his humble beginnings, the pain and redemption he’s experienced, and a full circle moment he had with the late  artist Juice WRLD, all while prepping for his forthcoming album Life is Long if You Know How To Live It and showcasing at the Never Been Kissed art exhibit series which kicked off February 17 at Art Space Chicago

Keep up with him on Instagram @8MatikLogan. 

This article has been edited and condensed for brevity.

What neighborhood did you grow up in, and how did it shape you as a person?

8MatikLogan: I pretty much grew up all over when I was a kid. I spent most of my childhood in Little Village on 23rd and Washtenaw, then Humboldt Park, then the North Side. We finally moved to Brighton Park in 2013. When I was a shorty, I didn’t really know much about the rest of the city like that, you really just stood in like your own little block type-shit. I’ve always been observant and watched people. I was close to gang culture and the street aspect of everything. I grew up in a family that was heavily into that. I wouldn’t necessarily say that people influenced my childhood, it was more so circumstances and situations. That whole environment kind of shaped my spirit at that time growing up because I was a troubled kid, kind of just trying to figure out what the hell this shit all was.

How did it feel being that young kid coming up around so many talented artists in the “blog era” of Chicago?

My dad sparked that love for music. Before he got locked up, all I would do was listen to his cassettes of Twista, Do or Die, DMX, Pac, [Bone Thugs-N-Harmony] and shit like that. I was introduced to hip-hop early, and that’s what made me fall in love with music. 

So I was already kind of fucking around with that shit, like before the Chicago hip-hop shit really sparked. But I think what you said, the key word is like, how did it feel being a young kid, and that’s what it was. We was all just kids. Like we was all really just in school. I’m saying nobody knew what really was about to happen. It was just one of those things where we was just doing Chicago shit. We were just being kids from Chicago. 

So it was like one of those things where you’re just in the moment, so you don’t really understand the magnitude of the moment. But like once [Chief] Keef popped off, once Chano [Chance The Rapper] popped off and you start seeing all these different artists get a ton of fame and acclaim, it’s like, okay, we’re onto something. It was just beautiful to watch everybody get involved in this and watch it unfold. 

Now you look ten years later, and the whole world is influenced by drill [music], the whole world is still heavily inspired by Chicago. So that shit is dope. 

You’ve rebranded and elevated your sound numerous times over the past decade. What has been the response from those who have always supported you?

I’ve kind of always had this idea of myself as a very fluid creative, and that I can shape shift and do whatever the fuck I feel like doing. I think for a while I kind of lost that and was trying to please people and fans and getting caught up in drifting [off]. I think drugs played a part in that as well just being so numb and not being able to feel or be aware of what’s really going on. 

I think I went through a couple of rough patches, where it was borderline some existential crisis and identity crisis, where I was changing my name a lot, just trying to figure myself out. I think a lot of shit happened for me early in my career when I was still a teenager going into my twenties and I didn’t know how to navigate that. So I had trouble once that happened and there was attention on me. I had trouble navigating that space because I still didn’t know who I was or what I was really trying to do.

In terms of what fans thought, I’m not sure because I really do it for myself and I hope that people resonate with it. It’s kind of like my form of therapy and how I can justify existence and really continue to move forward and try to leave a legacy.

8MatikLogan. Photo by Isiah “ThoughtPoet” Veney

In your music and across social media, you speak candidly about your battles with PTSD, addiction, and the reasons behind them. Besides music, what are your coping mechanisms? Do you have any advice for people who may be struggling with the same thing?

I think all the issues that I’ve had with drugs stemmed from trauma, and trying to navigate a very fucked-up life and the nuances of life. I don’t really think that I enjoyed being high, I just didn’t know how to cope with all the shit that was happening. 

In terms of advice, man, it is so hard because my trauma stems from a bunch of things. But once I hit my twenties and, you know, I was involved in a couple of shootings, that shit really fucked my head up, and then I started getting into more drugs to navigate that, which pushed me a certain direction and kind of made me drift off and kind of lose who I was. So that’s tough, I’m always open to sharing it. 

I’ve found new ways to navigate that. I don’t smoke weed anymore, I don’t drink anymore. And I’ve been pretty open about that. Just because, personally for me, it’s not something that was serving me anymore, it was kind of more of a detriment.  

But I’ve gotten into spirituality and reading a lot. I paint, I actually wrote a book, I have journals that I write in, all the stuff that people will say is cliche but this shit really works. If you apply yourself and you kind of take away the aspect of society looking at it a certain way, if you just find a unique way to use it, there’s utility in it. And that’s what has worked for me. I’m still learning and I’m still growing. It’s not something that I have figured out 100 percent but I’ve been making progress. And that’s really what matters. So find what works for you, and then try to try to grow and develop that.

What makes you continuously give yourself a second chance at this life thing?

I feel like God gave me a second chance. I was super borderline atheist when I was younger and I rejected the church. I’m still not a religious person, but I’m super spiritual. And I have a ton of faith. But I don’t think that there’s such a thing as a second chance, I think that we just continue to grow and evolve. And if God is allowing you to continue that journey, then you’d be irresponsible to not maximize that. 

I just feel like I’m here for a reason. It’s up to me to really make an impact and leave a legacy. Those are the two words that stick out to me: impact and legacy. I’m obsessed with making the most of my time here because we have limited time here in this physical realm. So for me, that’s what it’s about. 

What’s the biggest difference between the artist you were ten years ago, to the artist you are now?

I think I’m more intentional now. I think when I was a kid, I was just doing shit. In my early to mid twenties, I was so high all the damn time, I don’t even know what I was doing. So I feel like now I have a tremendous amount of clarity, and I’m just more intentional. I’m still allowing it to flow, you know, and kind of being in the moment, but there’s a lot of intent behind what I’m doing.  

I don’t think that I’ve hit my creative peak. I don’t think that I’m even anywhere close to my creative peak. I think I’m still like five, seven years away because I’ve picked up so many new ways to create, which is inspiring me and I’m understanding myself more. 

I don’t know if I’m even close to what I’m gonna be yet. I think at some point, I’ll hit full form and it’ll be the culmination of all the work that I’ve put in. And you know, something will click for me, because I have revelations and epiphanies every day. But it’s one of those things where I just feel like there’s a lot of work to be done. And so, yeah, I think that these coming years, within the next five years, I’m going to really evolve and turn into maybe a closer version of what I’m supposed to become. 

Every so often, you go quiet from the scene. Why is stillness sometimes necessary on a musical journey?

I read this quote once where it said creatives need time to sit around and do nothing because we’re always active and stimulated. For me, it’s been a little more nuanced because of health issues behind the scenes and turmoil that caused me to take breaks. When I was signed, I only put out one song in three years and was super depressed. I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere. I was also using Xanax heavily and going through my own health shit. 

Three years went by, and I didn’t know what the fuck had happened. I don’t think I can take a long absence like that again, but if I do, it would be for more intentional reasons. And I think that it is important sometimes to just decompress and try to find yourself and explore it inward as opposed to just always being out there. That can be a lot for us too, as creators, because we feel like we’re obligated to allow so many people so much access to our lives. But at the end of the day, we’re still human, too. So if you need a moment to relax, and get away from all this shit, take that.

8MatikLogan. Photo by Isiah “ThoughtPoet” Veney

You’ve been signed, exited deals, and eventually founded your own label, 8MatikRecordz.  Is staying independent the best route for an artist today?

It wasn’t right for me at the time, but I’m not anti-label. I think it’s different for everyone. I feel like everyone’s journey is unique to them. I think I signed just because I was in a bad place. I don’t think I was in a space to sign a record deal to begin with, in terms of how bad I was on Xanax and all this other stuff that was going on. But everything happens for a reason, and I learned a lot.

I would suggest, regardless of the route you take, to study the business side because you can’t have one without the other. You can’t be the dopest motherfucker and not understand the business side because you’re gonna get exploited and manipulated. 

The last conversation you had with Juice WRLD ended up becoming a full-circle moment for you. How did it feel when he reached out and let you know you inspired him?

That shit was crazy! That was a pivotal moment for me because I was in a place where I was signed and I was really depressed. I was really down on myself, which is why I’m so big on going and showing the people love that inspire me, because you can get lost in it and kind of forget who you are.

To see that Juice fucked with me in 2015 and for him to even reach out to me when he didn’t have to, that shit was so dope and genuine. It was a crazy moment for me. And it really opened my eyes to understand that even if you don’t see it, that doesn’t mean that it’s not moving. It doesn’t mean that it’s not making a real impact. So it allowed me to like really go into who I am now, and give myself to the world and know that it’ll reach who it’s meant to reach. And even if you’re not aware of it, it’s still happening. 

That’s crazy too because Juice got me through a tough time when I was really fucked up on Xanax and really going through some health shit. And this was like 2018, like a whole year before he even messaged me. So it was just a crazy moment to know all the shit that he did for me through music, and the whole time I had inspired him years before. I never got a chance to interact with him in person, we did see each other at the studio one time, but we were both so fucked up we kind of just looked at each other and kept walking. Even then I wish I would have said something to him or shook his hand. But at the time, I had no idea he knew who I was. Hindsight is 20/20.  

Now that it’s 2023, is there a new story you want to tell? What can we expect from you?

There’s still depth to my journey. And I want to explore that more and give people a more in-depth look because I kind of touched on it earlier in my career, but I don’t think I was intelligent or intentional enough to really articulate it properly. So I kind of want us to explore, you know, the things that have happened to me and kind of tell my story up until this point. But I think that if you looked at life in terms of a book, like a novel, let’s say, there’s so many more chapters that are not written yet. So as I continue to grow as a person and experience life, I will tell people what is going on and let them in on the new chapters that are happening and unfolding. 

But I think right now, I’m really focused on letting people understand what has happened to me and what my experience has been thus far. And I also am touching on where I’m at now and the progress that I’ve made—just being able to be authentic and candid and vulnerable, and letting people know that it’s okay to be yourself. Like, that’s really what I’m on. We’re just human. We’re literally only human, so it’s okay to be human.

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Kia Smith is a lover of words and digital storyteller. She previously wrote about DJ Cymba for the Weekly. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram @KiaSmithWrites_.

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