Omar Apollo is the alias of 23-year-old Mexican-American, singer-songwriter Omar Apolonio Velasco. His music encompasses a lane between Parliament-inspired funk and confident indie-pop.
With the release of his latest project "Apolonio," his talents bring actual results instead of just brimming potential. Hypnotic vocal harmonies and smooth production keep the project interesting and thoughtful, while Apollo’s production chops and songwriting ability takes center stage to create a cohesive and well-developed collection of songs.
Help from Frank Ocean co-collaborator Michael Uzowuru and collaborator DJ Dahi add another layer of production to his project. Enlisting help from outside producers can sometimes compromise the artist’s individual sound, but these people help to elevate Apollo’s songwriting to a new level, improving his concision without affecting his individuality.
With a multi-octave vocal range and ability to sing and rap seamlessly in English and Spanish, he's a more unique artist than your average funk musician.
He shines best when he refuses to take himself too seriously, as his personality and charisma weave into his songwriting in a lighthearted and playful atmosphere. His lyrics touch on the ups and downs of romantic relationships, and more specifically, the yearning that comes with falling in love.
While contemporaries such as Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis focus on more laid-back and emotionally charged alternative funk, Apollo combines their sonic landscape into a more youthful and energetic sound. He's often vulnerable and honest on "Apolonio," yet he carefully balances his feelings so neither emotion feels like it is overwhelming.
On "Kamikaze," he sings, “Drive through Georgia, 19 hours on a vacation / I ain’t never left the state, man, I’ve been waitin’ / And that pretty boy still hit me up on strange occasions."
This aspect of yearning has always been a part of Apollo’s music, but his openness toward men and women is a vulnerable allusion to his sexuality. While he has never openly stated his queerness, this intertwining of emotions without directly addressing it adds to his image and honesty as an artist.
Bootsy Collins remixes Apollo's single "STAYBACK," which adds another layer of funk to an already Prince-inspired song. The Parliament-Funkadelic bassist adds his signature falsetto vocals in an impactful and interesting way.
It certainly meant a lot to Apollo to get Collins on a remix of his song. Collins was a major inspiration to Prince, who is Apollo's favorite artist. Collins has previously shown love to funk-inspired songs, as he hopped on Uchis’s “After The Storm” featuring Tyler, the Creator in 2018.
On "Want U Around," Apollo brings Australian singer Ruel to create a melodically dense 6/8 jam. The panning of their falsetto vocals makes it seem like they are singing all around you, but the sheer amount of falsetto can feel slightly overwhelming at times.
While it's definitely an earworm, a change in vocal delivery or pace would make the song more versatile and dynamic. With more focused songwriting dedicated to each track, these kinks in Apollo’s songwriting can easily be ironed out with time.
Apollo’s "Apolonio" brings together a cohesive vision and impressive songwriting that is both impactful and vulnerable. In his short career, he has brought together unbridled potential and recruited a long list of collaborations that add to his artistic vision.
His heritage as a young Mexican artist is inspiring for kids who want to accomplish something unique, and his shyness about his sexual identity makes him all the more fascinating.
With "Apolonio," Apollo proves that he is coming into his own artistically and sonically, and this makes it his best project to date. His musicianship and confidence will only increase with time, and the album is a strong addition to his already impressive discography.