Steve Lacy. The genre bending, Californian wunderkind, is back with his second full-length LP. Gemini Rights.
This latest outing oozes maturity and an artistic vision beyond his years. As with any rising star/child prodigy. He’s had thrown at him, every musical comparison and genre association under the sun, but Steve Lacy refuses to be typecast.
Thematically, Gemini Rights is dripping with vividly crude sexual references and unabashed horniness. It is a lovesick memoir of a person in their early 20’s, figuring out all things lust and intimacy. Lacy’s sensual guitar licks and woozy vocals present this subject matter with a welcome seriousness, that elicits a genuine curiosity and engagement from the listener.
Since he first burst onto the scene with solo music in the mid-2010’s. Lacy has collaborated with countless artists from a vast array of genres. From showcasing his ability to lay down ridiculously funky grooves with Vampire Weekend, to providing bright chords and backing vocals for Kendrick Lamar. There is evidence of Lacy’s chameleon-like, gun for hire existence. He has embarked on this since releasing his debut album in 2019. And on Gemini Rights, it is laid bare for all to witness.
The opener, ‘Static’, is an alt-RnB/Emo rap track that is in a similar mould to other artists from the internet generation. Then ‘Mercury’ enters the stage with a soothing bossanova rhythm and a swinging calypso chorus. These two tracks are polarising examples of genre, happening early on the album. As you can imagine, Lacy goes on to explore just about all other genres in between, as the album plays out. However, despite the ever-changing instrumental choices, Gemini Rights doesn’t feel disjointed. The overarching thematic narrative, stitches all the songs together in a way that is easy to follow for the listener.
Steve Lacy’s ability to kick his vocal performance into deep soulful melodies, and then a bar later be ripping through talkative rap verses. Sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. Of course his resounding ability on the guitar does that too, but where many of his contemporaries would resort to getting a feature artist to record the chorus and hooks of their track. To cover the gaps where their vocals don’t reach. Lacy instead does it (almost) entirely himself. Besides, Fousheé’s feature on ‘Sunshine’, Steve covers the entirety of the vocals on Gemini Rights himself. Not in a way that feels stretched either. For ‘Sunshine’, the choice to bring on a female vocalist to sing the hook, was the right one. Especially as this was released as one of the singles for the album. It helps to distinctly differentiate it from the other lead single, ‘Bad Habits’.
Moments of reprieve from the higher tempo cuts, such as ‘Give You the World’, are undeniably sensual and soulful. ‘Give You the World’ evokes feelings of 70’s RnB with an effortless quality to both the vocal, and instrumental performances. Whilst the track plays, you can feel your water turning into whiskey and your shirt buttons undoing themselves.
It is the self-assuredness of going off the beaten track sonically, that makes Gemini Rights one of the standout album’s of 2022 so far. In no way am I claiming that Lacy has reinvented popular music, but what he has done is put the existing pieces of a jigsaw in a completely different, and unusual place. With all of his international tour dates selling out in a matter of seconds. Gemini Rights has, and will continue to, put Steve Lacy on the map. It has taken him from the periphery of alternative music, to firmly in the spotlight of pop music.
In short, this album is the moment our Steve hits the big time.