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Logic and Seth MacFarlane on How the Rapper Enlisted His Idol to Guest-Croon on New Song, ‘Self-Medication’

The rapper Logic has been unabashed about his love for Frank Sinatra, even adopting the nom de plume “Young Sinatra” for some of his mixtape releases. But he’s been just as up-front with his adoration for the man many consider the real young Sinatra: Seth MacFarlane, who, besides irreverently having created several of the world’s most popular animated comedy series, has released seven reverent albums of standards culled from the Great American Songbook.

Logic was finally able to bring his MacFarlane fandom to the ultimate fruition by enlisting the animation mogul to croon the soothing bridge of an otherwise typically hyperactive new hip-hop song, “Self-Medication.” Although not a single per se, it’s a track that’s gotten significant streaming boosts as Logic’s (and MacFarlane’s) fans have discovered it since the late February release of the rapper’s new album, “College Park.” It’s all of a piece for Logic that his first independent album, distributed to BMG, after a long run with Def Jam, is a nostalgic look back at his youth that includes a vocal cameo from an entertainment giant that he says helped get him through a troubled upbringing.

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“I am the happiest guy in the whole wide world,” says Logic, as he meets up with his hero and Variety on a Zoom call to discuss the “Self-Medication” hookup and the possible beginning of a beautiful friendship. As it turns out, MacFarlane was not fully aware of the extent to which Logic had paid tribute to his television universe, in not just one but two prior songs — 2011’s “Stewie Griffin” (saluting “Family Guy” of course) and 2022’s “Orville” (paying homage to a cult series that began in 2017).

Logic, what’s at the root of your affection for Seth and what he does?

Logic: Seth’s work, from obviously his incredible acting and writing and the shows that he’s done, they were there for me when my parents weren’t. His shows were there for me when I’m in a crack house surrounded by drug dealers and guns and killers and murderers. He allowed me to escape.

MacFarlane: I don’t know if “Family Guy” being your only escape when your parents weren’t around is necessarily a good thing. But I’m flattered nonetheless.

Logic: Well, it made me smile in a world that made me cry a lot, so thank you.

MacFarlane: Well, I’m glad. I’m glad.

How long ago did you two first have contact? Was it when Logic put out the “Stewie Griffin” song, more than a decade ago?

Logic: I don’t even think Seth knows what the fuck you’re talking about.

MacFarlane: I don’t. It’s all news!

Logic: Yeah, Seth, back in 2011, I did a song called “Stewie Griffin.” It was out and it was for free, and I used a skit from the show, and it was super fun. It’s cool that you actually bring that up. But many years later — only last year — did I release a song called “The Orville” that got this man’s attention, and then we kind of became homies. I referenced the main character, played by Seth, in the show. How did you hear about “The Orville” being a song on my album, Seth?

MacFarlane: One of the folks on production flagged it for me. I think it was Wiz Khalifa was also on the track. Is that right?

Logic: Oh, whoa. That was like 2019, four years ago. That was the first (attempt at doing the track; it now features Redman and Statik Selektah)…

MacFarlane: That was the first time I heard about it, and I thought it was very cool. And then the second time around it was like, all right, something’s going on here, so I should meet this guy. Because “Orville” was kind of the underdog in the Fuzzy Door world. You know, “Family Guy” was the show, and it and “American Dad” to some degree, as well, were the shows that were getting all the attention, and “Orville” was a little bit of the middle child. So when it kept getting mentioned in your music, I was like, “OK, this guy gets it.”

Logic: Man, I love that. That’s like Shatner recognizing you. But yeah, I remember you had followed me, which I freaked out about, and I don’t freak out a lot. I screamed. I was like, “Seth McFarlane followed me. Oh my God. OK, I gotta DM him. But be cool, man.” I said something along the lines of “Thank you for the love and the shout out,” and he responded with kind words, just being like, “Of course, man, I’m digging the song, much continued success.” And then I was like, “Thanks dude. Let me know if you want to grab a drink sometime.” Like, yeah, fucking right, this guy’s gonna want to hang out with me. Then he actually responded immediately, and he was like, “Send nudes.” No, I’m just kidding. He was like, “Yeah, sure, our people can work it out.”

Lo and behold, we’re sitting at dinner and we’re talking about film and TV, but a lot of it kept coming back to music, because I am just the biggest fan of this man. I have all his albums. I’m a bit of a fanatic. For real, his music speaks to me because Sinatra’s music spoke to me, and he’s incredibly talented at what he does. We’re talking about lost tapes of Sinatra and sheet music and all this cool, cool stuff. And I just offhandedly was like, “It’d be cool to do something sometime. Maybe I could sample a song of yours.” And he’s like, “I don’t know what the fuck that means, but all right.” [Laughter.]

MacFarlane: “Whatever you wanna do.”

Logic: I don’t like to press somebody out. Like if I meet somebody, a lot of people it’s about agenda, right? You know, what can you do for me? Because I’ve been there as well — you can tell when shit’s kind of phony. So I didn’t want to blow him up about music or collaborating, because for me it wasn’t like, “Oh, I need this Seth McFarland feature to blow up.” It was just, I thought he was a really nice guy and I thought it’d be cool to make art together. So I didn’t press it. And then I randomly made this song, “Self-Medication.” I’m in New York. It was literally three days before I had to turn the album in. I send the song to Seth, and I had written this [crooning] “…and today is the only day” part. And I sent him that, and he heard it and I guess he liked it. You’d have to ask him. He’s on the song, though. That’s good.

There’s an IG clip of you recording the part in somebody’s living room or something.

Logic: It was his rich-ass double-story library that we were actually in.

Seth, how did you feel about jumping into the middle of a rap song?

MacFarlane: You know, I got a big kick out of it. Look, it’s a somewhat unfamiliar genre to me, but I had an absolute 1000% trust in Bobby, so it seemed pretty low-risk. It seemed like he knew what I was doing, and if I signed on, it would be a good decision. And it turned out that it was. I mean, it’s amazing to watch this thing just kind of take off. It’s a different experience. With so much of what I do, I’m helming myself, and with this one, I’m just along for the ride. So it’s kind of refreshing.

Logic: Speaking about his music and our music together… I own all Seth’s albums, digitally and physically. I’m a bit of a creep. But even though I own them on my iTunes, I love Spotify and I use that to stream. So I went to his Spotify the other day to see his page, and it was so weird to see our song No. 1 on this page that I’ve been going to for years as just a fan. So, on a side note, that shit’s awesome.

You can probably both appreciate the irony of some of the online comments. Some of Logic’s fans have written things like, “Who knew MacFarlane had that kind of a voice? He should do a whole album singing in that voice.” And then of course others respond with, “Hello, he’s got seven albums out.” The standards albums still aren’t necessarily known to everyone in rap or animation culture, so some people are just now getting the memo.

Logic: Could you imagine if we did an EP or something? Because if I could take Seth on some Sinatra shit and flip it on some J Dilla, Slum Village… I’m probably speaking gibberish to you, Seth. But on something that’s like that crazy bpm, hip-hop drums feel, to bring these two worlds together, it could be fun. But that’s wild. That’s what I feel like we really accomplished here, where he didn’t have to jeopardize who he is as an artist, and neither did I. It’s like the duo you didn’t know. You know, I was saying, it’s like we’re Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, you know? Except really sexy.

MacFarlane: When you say bpm, my first thought goes to cardiac terms, so that tells you how with it I am.

Logic: That’s funny, “with it.” Did you just say “how with it I am”? I’ve gotta school you on some some slang. “With it.” You just gotta say down. I’m down, down-ass and dirty…

MacFarlane: I don’t know that I’m allowed to use some of your slang.

Logic: Well, yeah. I mean, not the racial stuff. There’s certain things you can’t say that I can.

Seth, I’m sure you were very shocked by all the profanity on the song, because you’ve probably never been exposed to that kind of language before?

MacFarlane: Yeah, my monocle fell out of my eye. I was clutching my pearls in horror. Yeah, no, I’m getting used to the idea of being associated with elements of pop culture that involve profanity. It’s something maybe someday I’ll put some in my own productions, and this is a good virgin voyage for me in that regard.

Logic and Seth McFarlane together to record “Self-Medication” (Courtesy JPLA Media)
Logic and Seth McFarlane together to record “Self-Medication” (Courtesy JPLA Media)

Where does the Sinatra thing come from for you, Logic?

Logic: Sinatra, for me, it goes back to my childhood. My mother used to play me all kinds of different music. And she’d show me the old black and white films, and she’d be like, “This is how you treat a woman.” Meanwhile, my stepdad’s beating her ass — but I’m trying to learn from this black-and-white film on how to treat a young lady. And it really worked, actually. I don’t currently beat my wife, which is great. That’s a joke. Well, it’s not a joke. I don’t do that. Anyway, it really rubbed off on me, and it just taught me also about lyricism.

My favorite record from Sinatra is “It Was a Very Good Year,” and it’s because he goes through these stages of being from “when I was 17,” and all the things that a 17-year-old would go through and think about, to 21, to what would see as in many ways him losing his virginity, saying, “…and those those girls upstairs with the perfumed hair, and it came undone, when I was 21.” These very subtle but sweet ways of maybe talking about something a little more mature for an audience. All the way to “when I was 35” — and I’m 33, so this man’s music has literally followed me through my age. So to be able to connect with literally Sinatra in the flesh in his own right — you know, Seth is a talent that is like a once-in-a-hundred-years kind of a vibe. And I think the thing about him… no, I mean it, man…

MacFarlane: [Returning to “It Was a Very Good Year.”] I wish there was something between “when I was 35” and “but now the days grow short.” I wish there was something right in the middle there that you could latch onto, but sadly…

Logic: It is weird. How do you go from even before middle-aged to “And now I’m old as fuck and it’s over”?

MacFarlane: I mean, right? When was that song? The late ‘60s, right? People weren’t dying that young.

Logic: It was like Jesus going from 12 to then being crucified at 33. Like, what happened in-between? Where’s that part of the book? But yeah, with that being said, I think a lot of people obviously know Seth as a man of many trades. He’s created universes — several universes — from “Family Guy” to “Ted” to even back when he was working writing on Hannah Barbera, for Cartoon Network, all these different things. And little do people really even realize this man’s reach, let alone his true passion. Not that (comedy) isn’t, and obviously I’m not speaking for him. But I mean, music, when I see my man do his thing, it’s so apparent it’s not for anybody but him and his friends. And that shit inspires me to just not give a fuck about what’s going on. So it’s cool to see him kind of get his flowers right now in real time from a younger generation of people who could kind of be like, “Sinatra, what the fuck?” But then they hear this guy and they’re like, wow, and they hear it in a way that’s kind of hip and young.

And with it.

Logic: “And with it.”

MacFarlane: That’s now, man — that’s real now!

The “Self-Medication” song, in total, is kind of very ADHD. It starts with an homage to the Notorious B.I.G. Then it goes into a first verse that’s about the joys of sampling and weed. Then you’ve got Redman on there rapping. Then all of a sudden, Seth is in there and it turns into a ballad. And then you’ve got this spoken outro where you and some friends are talking back in college days, and the earlier “Stewie” song is referenced in the conversation. It’s covering a lot of territory in a few minutes there.

Logic: Oh dude, you know what? I didn’t even think about the fact that that is in the skit at the end of the song. That’s fucking awesome — thank you. Because what the whole album is about, obviously, it’s a day in the life of me and all my friends in 2011 on our way to this open-mic show. I didn’t even put that together, that after Seth sings, it goes into a skit, where my DJ calls me and he’s asking me, “Hey, I just wanna make sure the set list is right.” And one of the very first songs he says is “Stewie Griffin,” which I did perform in 2011. Whoa, I didn’t even do that on purpose.

Logic, we know this is a big album for you because it’s your first as an independent album. So to have like this kind of childhood influence on here is as part of something that is obviously really meaningful to you might be even more special.

Logic: It’s very special. I get to work with my heroes who somehow I have brainwashed into becoming my friends, and I couldn’t be happier, man. You know, if I’m gonna be completely honest with you, I’ve stepped away from the Internet over these last few years to better myself mentally and make sure that I can be there for my wife and my son, and I really am finally comfortable in my skin. And that’s a hard thing to do, you know. I could just give a shit nowadays. I’m fucking losing my hair. I don’t give a shit. I got a dad bod. I run two miles a day; it is what it is. Being yourself unapologetically is what it’s really about, man. And all this other nonsense that’s out there, I don’t care about that anymore. I mean, I do a little bit, because I’m human, and you want everybody to love you. That’s unrealistic. But I look at people like Seth and a lot of my heroes on this album that are featured, and that’s all I care about — making dope art with really incredible people. So, Seth, thanks for even wanting to do this interview, dude. You’re fucking cool.

MacFarlane: Oh, man, my pleasure. This whole thing has been great for me. I’m thrilled to be along for the ride on this one. Going into this, I knew whatever this turns out to be, it’ll be in very capable hands. I went in with a lot of trust, and it paid off. I think Bobby knows exactly what he is trying to do with his art. He knows exactly who his audience is, and it all kind of came together with, to my ear, a lot of skill and a lot of confidence and a lot of maturity from an artistic standpoint. So I’m thrilled that I’m a part of it.

Any chance you’d do a cameo live, Seth, when his tour comes through town?

Logic: That could be a moment, at some point. I could do a wardrobe change. Bring you out in front of thousands of people and just sing like a boss in suits.

MacFarlane: Like I said, I trust Bobby on this stuff, so I’m inclined to say yes to whatever he wants.

Logic: OK. Great. Well, can I have a million dollars?

MacFarlane: You’re breaking up.

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