As August draws to a close, we can reflect on some of the summer’s hottest albums: though the competition is high, Steve Lacy’s “Gemini Rights” can certainly defend its place as one of the most influential albums of Summer 2022: the album’s warm acoustics and dreamy vocals make for an easy, hazy listen that is sure to complete the mood for any setting.
Lacy has showcased his skills through a variety of collaborations with other artists–notably, his part in writing features on Kendrick Lamar’s album “Damn,” and on Tyler the Creator’s “Flower Boy.” In 2015, he produced “Ego Death” as a member of The Internet, which was then nominated for best urban contemporary album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.
“Gemini Rights” stands as Lacy’s third album behind “Apollo XXI,” which was also nominated for best urban contemporary album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, and “The Lo-Fi’s”, a compilation album of his previously released singles in 2020.
Renowned for his skills as a guitarist, Lacy masterfully synthesizes elements of R&B, rock, funk and soul into his music to create the emotions that drive the story behind this album.
"Gemini Rights" follows Lacy as he ends a relationship—and the emotions and interactions that follow: a perfect serenade to a summer heartbreak. The album begins with a simple piano line and harsh lyrics, setting the scene for the hurt that Lacy feels. "Static" heeds an explicitly blunt warning, urging the audience that if they can’t express their love to their partner, they should break up.
Lacy leans into the passion and sensuality of his emotions in tracks like “Mercury” and “Buttons” in which his vocals melt into the strong, forward bass and beats, which are contrasted with a light, airy harmony on his choruses.
As the album progresses, Lacy continues with the piano motif as a means by which he furthers the story: “Amber” opens with a spoken intro, where Lacy describes two lovers who met at the right time, yet one couldn’t handle the other’s affection: perhaps a nod of acceptance and growth from the harsh warning at the beginning.
The sweetness of his vocals is brought to full fruition in “Sunshine,” where alternative soul singer and key collaborator on this album, Foushée, brings a sunshine-like warmth to the album.
"I still, I still love you" sing Lacy and Foushée, repeating the phrase over and over again.
It’s these bright, uplifting yet lyrically raw tracks that truly define Lacy’s style, and their bright, passionate confidence is what sets him apart from any other artist.
Lyrically, Lacy rarely strays from simplicity, which tends to work in his favor: it balances with the complexities of the music and matches the turbulent and, at times, blunt emotions that he brings forward.
Sure, “Gemini Rights” is, by no means, revolutionary. I can’t imagine that this is the peak of his discography.
As it is only his second album, Lacy has time to grow, both in popularity and in style: the album has been received well by fans of the genre, with “Bad Habit” gaining popularity on social media sites like TikTok.
With the album’s bittersweet ending, one can only help but yearn for more: is this his full potential? Only time will tell as Lacy unveils his talents as a musician within his own discography.