Steve Lacy Apollo XXI 3QTR
Steve Lacy’s brief-yet-meteoric career path has all the makings of a legend. Barely 21 years old, the guitarist, singer and producer has made a name for himself as a member of the neo-R&B group The Internet, self-released scores of acclaimed demos, and even bagged a Grammy for his production work on Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 album DAMN. And all this before the release of his debut album, a kaleidoscopic, pillowy daydream called Apollo XXI, perhaps his strongest statement as an artist yet.
The songs on Apollo drift through movements and suites, shifting gears constantly, buoyed by Lacy’s honeyed production and voracious appetite for 70s guitar hooks and rubbery basslines. Prince comparisons should be blasphemous, but Playground plays like I Wanna Be Your Lover’s stoner cousin. Love 2 Fast (another Purple One reference?), with its pleading lyric of “Fuck! Why is falling in love so hard?” recreates the exact feel of throwing your blankets over your head and indulging in your most delicious bout of youthful angst.
Last year, Lacy came out as bisexual, and Like Me is his account of that revelation, beginning with the line “Hello/ This is about me/ And what I am.” That could be the manifesto for this entire album – not only Lacy’s sexual identity, but his sound, his aesthetic, his influences. It would be a powerful debut for any young musician, but for someone as hyped as Lacy, it’s a bullseye that hints at many moments of magic to come.