Summer album frenzy from Steve Lacy, JID, Brent Faiyaz

Simon Phipps, Co-News Editor

Three critically-acclaimed albums were released this summer: Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy, The Forever Story by JID and Wasteland by Brent Faiyaz. 

Gemini Rights: Talented Steve Lacy developed every ounce of his sound independently. He joined musical group “The Internet” at 16 years old, and went on to co-produce songs such as “PRIDE.” By Kendrick Lamar and “Silk Da Shokka” by Isaiah Rashad on an iPod Touch during his senior year of high school – not to mention being nominated for a Grammy the same year. Gemini Rights was an opportunity to put the spotlight on himself. The album has a recurring theme of breaking and making up; of constantly chasing love, regardless of authenticity. Each track contains feelings of a confused or longing heart, accompanied by sounds of various guitars (which Lacy specializes in), stuffing the album with lively and upbeat melodies. The album demonstrates Lacy’s improvement with more advanced instrumental layering and vocal production compared to previous works. A must listen for R&B, indie and even alternative hip-hop enjoyers.

The Forever Story: This album struck an unforgettable chord, knocking Airpods out of listeners’ ears. Highly anticipated, JID’s first solo release in four years is riddled with unpredictable flow switches and wordplays unthinkable by even the greatest of Word Hunt players; his lyricism is likened to the league of Kendrick Lamar. He vocalizes the perpetual, ‘forever story’ about the misinterpretation of music and black culture, also discussing white supremacy and the disproportionate power between the oppressed and the government. The first four tracks take on instrumentals, illustrating a toxic, ‘ten-toe’ mentality. Track three, “Dance Now,” touches on how oppression often leads to unorthodox methods and, therefore, spiritual death, in the chorus: 

“Oh what a handsome gift to live in the land of sin…that’s what I asked of him…you dance with the devil, you’ll never dance again.” 

Track six, “Surround Sound,” contains a verse from feature king, 21 Savage –  always an enjoyable listen. “Kody Blu 31” creates a sudden tone switch, a solemn focus on family. The opening sample is JID’s family singing at their grandmother’s funeral, while the repetition of “Swang on” insists to keep your head high and continue pushing. “Bruddanem”’s bounce and “Sistanem”’s soberness share a similar theme. The final half of the album goes through a similar cycle as the first half, but it’s not to be spoiled. JID put other artists to shame with 148 flow switches, 124 vocal tone switches and about 20 percent of vocals on the album are sung – true talent.

Wasteland: As one of the most prominent voices in modern R&B, Brent Faiyaz released an album that was only a slight improvement over his last. The album highlights Faiyaz’s tragic love story – unplanned pregnancy leads to anxiety, poor prioritization and eventually threatened suicide from his girlfriend. It is a story more gripping than most, showcasing Faiyaz’s blunt vulnerability – a trait continuously fading among artists. While the storytelling is done very well, the instrumentals do not support the tone of the story. Most tracks lack a variety of instruments and production quality, making the album feel bland, although tracks such as “Gravity” and “Role Model” do have more intriguing production quality. Many listeners are waiting to see greater improvement from the artist in future works. 

All three artists have shown immense refinement in their craft, and your ears are begging to hear it. The albums are available on all streaming platforms, and look out for their upcoming ‘deluxe’ releases.