Review: American Steve Lacy's solo debut showcases his vocal as well as guitar playing skills while drawing on the rich history of hip hop at the same time. His lo-fi approach to production and vulnerable and introspective style of singing makes this solo debut album "Apollo XXI" feel like a very personal work all while offering golden moments of bedroom pop, indie leaning lullabies and wordplay beyond the artist's 21 years. After contributing to tracks by Solange, Kendrick, Mac Miller, Blood Orange and Vampire Weekend as well as being part of The Internet, this might be the breakout record Lacy deserves. Either way, it is a richly rewarding listen from a hugely talented young artist.
Review: Three months after rapper turned singer Lizzo's major label debut first appeared on CD and digital download, Atlantic has decided to offer up a deluxe vinyl edition of the well-received set featuring three bonus tracks. Prior to release, Lizzo admitted she wanted to become "this generation's Aretha Franklin"; while she's not at the late soul legend's standard just yet, there's enough on "Cuz I Love You" to suggest that she's going in the right direction. Her vocals are variously confident, powerful, strutting and tender, with the accompanying backing tracks mixing hip-hop and R&B style beats with raucous guitars, bombastic basslines, Daft Punk style synth stabs (think "Robot Rock" and "Technologic") and occasional nods towards more pastoral, semi-acoustic sounds. Above all, though, the album is funky, forthright and hugely entertaining.