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Photo: Aitor Laspiur
Photo: Aitor Laspiur

Omar Apollo Takes Tragedy in Stride on God Said No

The R&B crooner's sophomore album finds him dealing with grief by accepting that life’s not fair. 

by Ben Boddez

We all have times where we think nothing in our lives could be more perfect – until an act that feels like divine intervention proves that it was all a little too good to be true. For genre-melding singer Omar Apollo, the seed for a new project was planted after being inspired by an offhand comment he made to a friend after a relationship came to an end – “I gave it my everything, and God said ‘No.’”

It’s his sophomore effort after raising his profile considerably with a debut that placed him on tour with SZA and saw him score a massive TikTok hit with “Evergreen,” but little about Apollo has changed: every time you throw on one of his albums, he’s going to hit you with each one of his diverse strengths one after another, whether it’s falsetto and acoustic riffs on the instrument he’s been mastering since age 12, hip-hop inflected trap cuts, sombre piano ballads, soulful belting, or even his newer ventures into full-on 80s synthpop.

Processing grief with the aid of one of the most emotive singers around in Mustafa and a touching story from none other than Pedro Pascal, Apollo understands that life’s not fair – but his addresses of this fact are less about sulking and more about finding the strength to roll with the punches, with the confidence to understand his self-worth and that something valuable will come along him eventually. Despite an admission that he hoped things would end with wedding bells, Apollo’s complaints here aren’t mean-spirited: most of them are actually darkly humorous, as he throws up his hands and taunts life to jettison whatever plot twist it has next at him. With that attitude, even a supreme deity is sure to give in eventually.