Steve Lacy is no stranger to the world of music today. His name pulsates on the lips and tongues of those who are most familiar with his musical work as the guitarist for R&B band The Internet, as well as his collaborative work and production for a roster of artists, including Tyler the Creator, Solange, Ravyn Lenae, and Thundercat to name a few.
Nonetheless, the 24-year-old Californian musician has proven time and time again why his standalone work exists in a realm of its own.
The song Dark Red from his debut 2017 EP Steve Lacy’s Demo, which was famously known for being created entirely on his iPhone, recently went RIAA platinum. Additionally, his 2019 debut album Apollo XXI played out as an impressive first taste of his music post-iPhone production era. It shows Lacy’s tenacity and sharpness and is a clear indication of his musical growth.
Gemini Rights is the strong result of an artist who has been working tirelessly to hone in on the sounds they want to create. Though not too far-fetched from what he explored on his debut album, Lacy maximises his confidence tenfold. Apprehensiveness and timidity are two things you won’t find on this album as Lacy soars through his emotions as he recounts his first real heartbreak. It’s essential to understand that Lacy made this album for himself, just as much for everyone else. Speaking to Apple Music, he said that “…we always force a separation between the artist (me), and audience (people). But I am not separate. I am people, I just happen to be an artist.”. The raw recollections of sadness, confusion, happiness and fear are what make it so special. The wild and outspoken dialogues around love, lust, indecision, and longing appear as if they’re torn straight out of his personal journal. As such, Lacy removes himself from the dynamic of artist to audience, allowing all who wish to seek out comfort in candid conversation to join the ride.
The astrological characteristics of a Gemini are sprawled out across this album, both lyrically and musically. The attribute of having ‘two faces’ is commonly associated with Geminis and is a theme throughout that cleverly breaks down the several layers of Lacy. Many tracks deliver a switch up towards the latter end of them, which allows the song to traverse a different planet that still exists within the same universe. Similarly, he dabbles in plentiful moments of balance and opposites, exploring both a “little of heaven, little unpleasant…little of pleasure, little depression” on Mercury. This examination of polar opposites is a direct reference to the two sides of a Gemini and is playfully scattered through more moments on the album.
There’s a blatant touch of hyper sensuality that masks the entire album as if it were taken from the archives of an old Prince record. Regardless, Lacy holds his own on Gemini Rights, delivering a certain level of charisma throughout and allowing his personality to shine through on each track. With elements of funk, psych-rock and soul, Gemini Rights is a testament to Steve Lacy’s hard work since his debut. He allows himself to run free and ties it all in with the musical relics of his inspirations, like Sly Stone, The Beatles and Andre 3000. The album serves as an interpersonal ode to all Geminis alike, as he opens his arms to all who are navigating the messy headspace of a heartbroken, pleasure-seeking, love-obsessed individual.