Steve Lacy posing with his guitarWikimedia Commons / MASSHENDRIX ( 

Steve Lacy’s ascent to stardom has been far longer than the average listener would expect, with his musical origins being far richer than the average credentials you’d expect for an artist renowned for having viral songs on every social media platform (“N Side” and “Dark Red” are known staples in virtually every TikTok viral hits playlist, and new single “Bad Habit” seems nailed-on to join them). The Compton native started out as a producer, most notably producing “PRIDE.” on Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 effort DAMN., as well as a host of tracks for the American band, The Internet, for which Lacy is a guitarist.

“Lacy portrays his ability to push his own boundaries”

Lacy formally transitioned into a solo artist with his debut album, Apollo XXI. Released in 2019, Lacy struck the perfect balance between gorgeous instrumentals backed up with authentic lyricism and vocal delivery to match, yet there was a resounding sense of timidity surrounding the release even with the daring experimentation and genre-bending that it portrayed. A song like “Playground” for example was only two minutes long, and almost begged for an explosion of some sort, perhaps suggesting a sense of reluctance from a young Lacy, only 21 at the time of the project’s release. With Gemini Rights, however, these traces of reluctance seem to have ironed themselves out.

Boasting a similar runtime to its predecessor, the record shows Lacy cementing the case for authenticity that he’s put forward since the beginning of his career, while expanding the wealth of genres that he pulls from: take the lead single “Mercury” for example, a bossa nova influenced number that also samples soul singer Eddie Kendrick’s “Just Memories”. Here, Lacy portrays his ability to push his own boundaries by lacing genres together in such a complex way that it doesn’t feel unnatural, and that is exactly what makes him the artist we know today.

Gemini Rights is not only a personal recovery but also a reminder of who Steve Lacy is”

Lacy talks a lot about doing things on his own terms and making sure he sets the record straight on situations that he has experienced. In a recent interview with The Guardian, he stresses how important it is that he is in control of the narrative, and the chief storyteller of his own life. Much of Gemini Rights entails Lacy’s past relationship, and its unfortunate breakdown, yet the overall sound the project takes would not suggest such heartbreak. “Sunshine” is deceptively poppy, especially with the airy dimension added by rising R&B star Fousheé, and the same could be said elsewhere with “Amber”, with its luscious production making it feel almost criminal for a song that echoes Lacy’s intent to be rid of his now ex-lover (“I wish I never met you no more”).

That said, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter may lament and gloom over what he had with his past lover, but equally wishes to break free and move away from such pain across the album – if the claim “I could do better” on the brutally candid “Cody Freestyle” isn’t enough, then take the couplet on the equally excellent “Helmet” as a sign of Lacy moving on (“I’m not for sale / Man, what the hell?”). The sense of “knowing your worth” that Lacy employs throughout the album keeps him and his feelings at the centre of the project, and more so prevents the entire body of work from becoming one that wallows completely in self-pity – the wackiness and lightness on tracks like the aforementioned “Sunshine” (“Still give you dick anytime you need”) serve as a reminder for all that heartbreak doesn’t have be an all-consuming grief, nor do we need to be completely consumed by it.


Mountain View


Gemini Rights is not only a personal recovery but also a reminder of who Steve Lacy is. This stellar project shows him owning his narrative as a master of multiplicity, a chameleon whose music transcends a genre and to simply remain in a single lane. The flips from bossa nova to indie rock, funk and soul are bold yet executed seamlessly, and no track ever feels out of place, or equally forced on for the sake of it. For someone so intent on controlling the narrative and setting the record straight, Lacy crafts Gemini Rights in an impressively carefree fashion, and such complexity is only further testament to its excellence.