Hidden Gem: Steve Lacy – Apollo XXI


Anyone who has seen me on a night out they will probably hear me rant about how amazing Steve Lacy is and how he is extremely underrated. The release of his debut album came at the start of summer 2019 making for a perfect summertime record. Apollo XXI is a raw and unique record blending soul, funk, jazz and hip-hop to create an absolute masterpiece. Compared to most debut albums, Steve Lacy created Apollo XXI in the comfort of his sisters’ room while she went off to college, giving the record a personal touch. It is also incredibly impressive the amazing musicality of the album considering it was made in a bedroom. His experimentalism is shown throughout especially when he explores different vocal styles, from high pitched in ‘Playground’ to laid back speech/rap in ‘N Side’.

The second track ‘Like Me’ is a clear centrepiece of the album. It is the longest song on Apollo XXI (9 minutes long) and can be considered the introduction not only to Lacy as an artist, but to him as an individual. Shown as the track opens with “Hello/ This is about me / And what I am”. Lacy discusses his sexuality, his worries about coming out as bisexual, and his concern on what others think and if anyone else feels the same. Its important to note this is one of the first songs where he openly identifies as bisexual proclaiming “I only feel energy/ I see no gender”.

Artists like Thundercat, Prince and the Neptunes are a few of Lacy’s music influences. This is highly evident in Apollo XXI, especially in (my personal favourite) ‘Playground’ shown in the one chord rhythm guitar and the chilled funk tunes. Whilst songs like ‘N Side’ and ‘Lay Me Down’ are both as sensual and erotic like Prince. ‘Amandla’s interlude’ takes a different sound compared to other tracks. It is an instrumental truck featuring Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg who plays the violin on the track.

Steve Lacy debut is a raw and unique sound bringing jazz and funk back to mainstream music. At 21 years old he has created such a masterpiece which deserves much more recognition. Apollo XXI is a perfect introduction to Steve Lacy as an artist and I cannot wait to see what the next decade has in store for him.

If this hasn’t convinced you enough that Steve Lacy is incredibly talented, only two years ago he released Steve Lacy’s Demo with the song-series solely being made on his iPhone, producing guitar and bass arrangements and singing his vocals into the phone’s microphone. As well as being a member of Grammy nominated band The Internet, Steve Lacy as a solo artist is one to look out for in the 2020’s.

Steve Lacy’s Apollo XXI is out via 3qtr.


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Editor 2020/21 and a History student with a Britney Spears addiction.

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