As a Gemini myself, what better way to ‘tis the season than a Steve Lacy album riddled with all the tangled emotions that accompany the mess heartbreak leaves behind. Gemini Rights, Lacy’s sophomore album, is a 10-song melange of rock, R&B, jazz and ’70s funk. While his previous full-length album was recorded and edited fully on Garageband, a tribute to DIY artists, Gemini Rights is a studio-polished testament to his potential.
In itself, the album was inspired by a failed relationship that Lacy himself ended. Nothing suggests “Gemini” more than breaking up with your boyfriend, regretting it, and then writing a whole album about it. “Static” suggests a breath of fresh perspective when he sings, “Hope you find peace for yourself/ New boyfriend ain’t gon’ fill the void,” and then, “If you had to stunt your shining for your lover dump that fucker.” It’s the perspective your friends have when you’re a few shots deep, phone in hand, asking, should I call him?
In “Sunshine,” with singer Foushée’s smooth vocals, Lacy reminds us of this lingering regret that heartbreaks often entail and the question that remains: if you really love someone, does that feeling ever go away? Responding to Foushée’s dreamy verse, Lacy sings, “Honestly, I wouldn’t mind, I would do it one more time/ I would let you cut the line just so I could be /Right where you are.”
Though with this said, Lacy does mention other lovers. Encased in the turbulent subject matter, Lacy dabbles in conversations with exes, sleeping with other people and nods to his sexuality. “Bad Habit,” my personal favorite taste of the project, echoes the mantra: “I wish I knew you wanted me.” For all the no-he’s-definitely-not-into-me types out there, this is the record for you. With soulful undertones, Lacy pleads with the missed chance he had with someone he thought was out of his league singing, “Thought you were too good for me, my dear/ Never gave me time of day, my dear.”
Each song is a modge podge of genres, though certainly influenced by moguls like Prince and Stevie Wonder who fans have not shied away from comparing him to. Being born in Compton, Lacy said in an interview with The Guardian, “As a kid, I just thought it would be a fantasy. I kiss a boy?” In the article, Lacy talks about not feeling as “flamboyant” as the examples of men who were attracted to men in the media. Though, in Gemini Rights, Lacy does not censor himself on “Cody Freestyle” when he sings, “You had a heavy dick, a cannon /I could use your deep throat.”
Certainly, it hasn’t been a smooth road for bisexual male artists in the industry to write freely about sex. Last year, at the Rolling Miami Loud festival in July, DaBaby said, “Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cell phone light up.” In response to this, Kevin Abstract quoted his own verse from Brockhampton’s track “STAR” and Tweeted, “Heath ledger wit some dreads I just gave my n***a head wow.” Abstract’s sophomore album, American Boyfriend, was somewhat of his announcement to the world about his bisexuality. In an interview with BBC News, Abstract said, “I have to exist in a homophobic space in order to make change and that homophobic space would be the hip hop community. So me just existing and being myself is making change and making things easier for other young queer kids.”
It’s ever so apparent that today, queer artists like Lacy, Abstract, Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean have reshaped the music industry to normalize talking about different sexualities in music. Yet again, this wasn’t necessarily easy in the beginning. With the release of Tyler’s album Flowerboy, which considered the theme of coming out, Eminem called him a “f*****” in 2018.
While lyrics about sex run rampant in the music industry, it’s safe to say that Lacy is the one artist who does it with class. In his interview with The Guardian, when asked about the memes that have circulated about how much he writes about sex in his music, he said simply that sex is “inspiring – it makes you feel pretty. Cuddles after, conversations after, the romance – yeah, the romance more than anything.” Only Lacy poetically would use the word “pretty” to describe that feeling.
Again, it all fizzles down to Lacy’s sensational command of the English language and, obviously, our heartstrings. To wrap up the album, he begs for forgiveness in “Give You the World,” when he promises, “This time I’m gonna love you like you would do.” It’s certainly a bittersweet note to end on as well know that relationships are hardly ever afforded those begging second chances. Though, perhaps we can find solace in a line from previous track “Mercury,” when Stacy sings, “Don’t regret the choice I choose but do regret the mess I made.”