What’s the only combination in music better than Steve Lacy and GarageBand? Steve Lacy and a guitar or bass. Although most know him as one of the youngest and most exceptional voices of the group The Internet and the mastermind behind one of my favorite albums of all time, Apollo XXI, Steve Lacy has accumulated quite the collection of production credits. He has one of the most distinct production styles out there and has blessed our ears with his work with "Pride" from Kendrick Lamar's Grammy winning album, DAMN, Fousheé, Ravyn Lenae, Isaiah Rashad, and himself, among many others.
If you follow me on Twitter, you have likely seen me raving about this track in recent weeks. It takes the most special song to make me listen to all seven and a half minutes of it every time through, yet Fousheé and Steve Lacy accomplish just that on “candy grapes.” The duo’s vocals pair perfectly together over a repeated guitar riff for the first two and a half minutes, enhanced by amazing vocal effects. However, after that point, Steve’s production really takes center stage as some playfulness transitions us into an epic guitar solo. Layered backing vocals are the only compliment necessary, allowing you to just soak everything in. These last five minutes will do things to you – it is so utterly beautiful.
Although Steve Lacy produced the entirety of Ravyn Lenae’s Crush EP, it is “The Night Song” that is the standout of the project for me. There is something so infectiously danceable about it, and paired with a catchy hook, there is no stopping putting it on loop. While most of the track is synth heavy, there is no hiding the great bass play. The stand out point comes at 2:43, where a stripped down version of the hook erupts in a magical burst of Steve Lacy production, truly sending the track off on a high note.
While this track’s production can’t solely be attributed to Steve Lacy, “Come Over” by The Internet is one of the best feel good songs you will ever hear. It’s a beautiful love song exploring a budding relationship, and it just so happens to have one of if not my favorite music video of all time. Steve’s moment to shine comes on a short but incredibly sweet guitar solo, epitomized by how Patrick Paige II cuts off the solo in the video: “Garçon, turn that stupid-ass shit down. You see Kwalisha up there trying to goddamn meditate. You're playing these piercing ass solos and shit, fucking up the whole vibrations.” I wish I could go back and listen to this track for the first time again - it is so perfect.
A bit of a switch up from the R&B and pop styles of the prior tracks, Syd and Steve both joined Isaiah Rashad for “Silkk da Shocka” off his debut album, The Sun’s Tirade. Rashad and Syd co-sing most of the track, with Rashad taking the wheel solo only for the third verse. It’s not necessarily a combination many would expect but it certainly works out, and while it’s not the greatest display of Steve’s repertoire, it certainly shows his ability to adjust his style to favor another artist. The guitar is much mellower yet still pops, while distortion on Rashad’s voice compliments the dramatic yet good vibes of the instrumental.
Perhaps the greatest display of his guitar wizardry, “Love 2 Fast” off of Steve Lacy’s Apollo XXI is, simply put, impeccable. Much of the track is a varying repeated electric guitar riff, but if it wasn’t clear by now, Steve loves himself a guitar solo, delivering an otherworldly one that’s just over a minute long. If anyone knows how to custom make a guitar hero level, please reach out to me for this one. On the track, Steve describes how he rushes into relationships which ultimately negatively impacts him in the long run. Apollo XXI as a whole might be my favorite production on an album ever - everything about it is flawless.