Steve Lacy man, straight out of Compton and what a talent. Not only being just 22, but starting his career when he was just 15. Absolutely ridiculous. Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer and producer. This man has produced music for ‘Denzel Curry’, ‘Mac Miller’, ‘J Cole’ and ‘Kendrick Lamar’. (Just to name a few), as well as being the guitarist for the band The Internet, he’s collaborated and guest appeared on tracks with ‘Kali Uchis’, ‘Vampire Weekend’, ‘Thundercat’ and ‘Tyler, The Creator’ (Again, just to name a few). He writes his own solo music and oh, he records everything on his iPhone. Yeah, I’ll give you a moment.
Lacy started young, making beats using Garageband using an iRig cable and his phone, and today is a highly respected professional producer and musician. Steve uses a technique he calls ‘The Bare Maximum’ which explains how you can create brilliant content, even with only the most basic set up. He cites ‘Thundercat’, ‘Black Moth Super Rainbow’, ‘Erykah Badu’, ‘Pharrell WIlliams’ and ‘The Neptunes’ as his major influences, and crediting ‘Mac DeMarco’ as one of his biggest influences in terms of production, all of which is evident throughout his work. He also describes his sound as ‘Plaid’ like the material due to him seeing a plaid shirt and stating it ‘looks’ like his music ‘sounds’, with there being ‘loads going on’ but ‘none of it clashes’.
Back in 2017, Steve released his first solo work, a project referred to as a song series, ‘Steve Lacy’s Demo’, an EP compiled of songs written and produced since 2015. The year before his solo debut he released the single ‘Some’, which was an immediate hit, showcasing indie, soul and lo-fi elements. ‘Some’ showcased his work through minimalism production and simplistic craft, but in a way that stands out and makes a big impact especially upon your initial listen, all recorded and produced on his iPhone, really showed and proved his theory of the bare maximum. Later the following year we were treated to ‘Dark Red’ which was his most notable work of his solo material. Darker sounds, tight drum loops, a groovy bassline and killer vocals. Upon the release of the EP, Lacy dropped the music video for ‘RYD / Dark Red’.
The same year he co-wrote and produced Ravyn Lenae’s EP ‘Crush’, and with the drop of Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy winning album DAMN., the song ‘Pride’ was produced by him, where you can really hear the styles of Lacy’s work, from the swirling guitar to the programmed drums, Lacy’s presence is practically in the room with you.
It’s with all the work Lacy has been a part of where you really get to experience his ‘Plaid’ style, and understand just how much his influences have had on him. But after releasing more music with the Internet and working with many more artists, in 2019 he dropped his first solo LP, Apollo XXI, released a day after his own 21st birthday. The album flaunts off a subtle expansion of the sounds from his earlier solo work, but with the sheer amount of songs he’s been a part of, dedicated followers will have been able to see and hear his sound develop as he integrates such revolutionary elements such as a second phone, or Ableton drum patches, all the while staying true to his plaid practice. The album received quite obviously well deserved acclaim, being nominated for a Grammy award for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Apollo XXI is a whirlpool of funk, RnB, indie and soul, as it talks about Lacy’s life after the release of his first EP, topics of break-ups, success, his evolving style and image of himself, as well as views on the world. The track ‘Like Me’ featuring DAISY is a notable one, split into a three part journey that explores and talks about Lacy’s sexuality, something DAISY and himself connected with during the writing and recording process. Lacy has openly announced that he is bisexual, and the struggles of coming to terms with that being raised as a Christian. All of which is evident in the song with lyrics such as “This is about me and what I am – I didn’t wanna make it a big deal – But I did wanna make a song, I’ll admit – Uh, I just wanna, just see who can relate” and “How many scared to lose their friends like me?”. Something that fans part of the LGBTQ+ community can definitely relate to.
The single ‘Playground’ from the album shows off some real dirty funk that really makes you wanna dance, matched with a music video heavily influenced by music video’s and effects from the ’70s, all while staying modern and crisp.
Over the last five years we’ve seen a surge in bedroom pop artists, the indie scene has never seen so much creativity and it’s a wonderful thing to see, hundreds of young musicians who would once never attempt to complete their dreams of being a creative due to the lack of resources, but Steve Lacy proves that in the ocean that is the next generation of young homemade artists, you can make beats, produce and make your own songs from absolutely nothing, you can make it big with some basic free software on your smart phone, Lacy doesn’t just make music, but he inspires so many people, to follow his footsteps and do the same, figure out their sounds, discover new artists and create. I cannot wait for the next project Lacy works on because the man has the Midas touch, there’s a thrilling part about discovering Steve because of the pure magnitude of work he’s been a part of, you discover so much more than one artist, you get the whole Argos catalogue. Do yourself a favour and start listening to the biggest record producer and musician we’ve seen in way over a decade. Get in early, experience plaid, experience Lacy and get comfortable for the ride that will be his evolution.
Comparisons to icons such as Brian Eno, Dr Dre, Mark Ronson and Calvin Harris do get mentioned when talking about the likes of Lacy, but between you and me, I have a pretty strong feeling Steve Lacy will be a bigger household name in the years to come. We’ve only had Lacy’s prowess for five years, and he’s already done so much. The sheer thought of what’s possible in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years gives me shivers. This is somebody you do not want to sleep on. Lacy’s top tracks will be right down below, check out just a small taster of his work on the ‘This Is Steve Lacy’ playlist on Spotify, and get ready for the future.