Steve Lacy’s “Apollo XXI”
Just this month, American musician Steve Lacy released his debut album “Apollo XXI” – a charming and introspective successor to “Steve Lacy’s Demo,” a project the artist dropped in 2017. This 12-track album is a well done representation of Lacy’s stance on love and self-acceptance, as the artist addresses truths about his identity, ambitions, and worries in the record. If you want an idea of what Lacy sounds like in this project, try to picture the merge of bedroom pop, hip hop, and smooth soul. Doesn’t that sound like a sublime combination? Here is an overview of the album’s tracks and some of my favorite picks.
“Apollo XXI” starts off with the track “Only If,” where Lacy pays homage to an honest, personal history of worrying like he’s done in the past. He sings, “If I could travel through time, I think I would tell myself from the past, ‘You’ll be fine.’” While this idea of dismissing anxieties of the future is easier said than done, Lacy delivers it to us in a relatable and peaceful way. Lacy continues his efforts towards relatability in the next track “Like me.” In this song, he asks a myriad of rhetorical questions such as: “How many work on self-acceptance like me? / How many face a situation like me? / How many others not gon’ tell their family? / How many scared to lose their friends like me?” In addition to striving to be relatable with his audience, Lacy opens up about his sexuality in this song. He sings, “I only feel energy, I see no gender / When I talk ‘bout fish, I wanna catch ya, I’m a fisher.” This kind of openness that’s present in his lyrics is admirable and refreshing.
In the next track, “Playground,” Lacy compares the game of love to the games of a playground. This is a playful track that emanates a retro kind of sound. As the album progresses, Lacy continues to deliver us with soft love songs that are coated in an R&B overlay. The track “Hate CD” is one of my favorites because of the dynamic beat and candid lyrics. In this track, Lacy dips back into the well of relatability when he talks about the pain of love. Those who have felt the effects of love withdrawal can probably relate to Lacy’s verses where he talks about “coming down” from the drug of love. Lacy proceeds to express these kinds of feelings of passion throughout the rest of the album.
Before I wrap up, the two last tracks “N Side” and “Outro Freestyle/4ever” are two great songs to mention. “N Side” was released as a single prior to the album’s release, and it remains to be one of my favorite songs off “Apollo XXI.” From its instrumentation to the lyrics, the song is feels like honey to the ears. It’s a sultry mix of smooth soul and lo-fi bedroom pop. The last track “Outro Freestyle/4ever” is a little different than the other songs off the album. Here, Lacy [softly] raps over a subtle hip hop beat for about a third of the song. Then, the beat slowly switches to feature a sample from Solange’s “Exit Scott (interlude)” off her recent album “When I Get Home.” Lacy actually produced this song for Solange’s album, so him reintroducing it into his own album is pretty neat. The ending of the song sounds kind of trippy, and it’s even kind of relaxing.
All in all, Steve Lacy’s “Apollo XXI” was an incredibly enjoyable project to listen to. Lacy’s effort towards self-acceptance, self-expression, and relatability was successful in a clean and refined way. At just 21 years old, Lacy has a bright career ahead of him with his solo act and his beloved role in the R&B group the Internet. I highly recommend “Apollo XXI” to not only fans of hip hop, but of all types of music because Lacy does a great job in really optimizing the genre of hip hop.
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