The Genius of Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy’s journey in music started at a remarkably young age, beginning his career at just 15. It’s almost unbelievable, but this young man is a genius in the making, showcasing his multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer and producer skills.

Lacy is not only an artist in his own right but also a producer for some big names in the industry, including Denzel Curry, Mac Miller, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, to name just a few. He’s also the guitarist for the band ‘The Internet’. But the list doesn’t stop there; he’s guest-appeared and collaborated with artists such as Kali Uchis, Vampire Weekend, Thundercat, and Tyler, The Creator.

Image Courtesy: People

What’s truly mind-blowing is that Lacy creates much of his music using just his iPhone. Yes, you read that right, a smartphone. His journey began with the humblest of setups, using Garageband, an iRig cable, and his phone to craft beats. His production technique, which he calls ‘The Bare Maximum,’ demonstrates how he can create incredible content with minimal equipment. 

He cites influences from some music legends, including Thundercat, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Erykah Badu, Pharrell Williams, and The Neptunes, and it’s evident how these influences have shaped his unique sound. Lacy’s production style, influenced by artists like Mac DeMarco, is distinct and captivating, like the plaid fabric he associates with his music, a lot going on, but nothing clashes.

Image Courtesy: Billboard

In 2017, Lacy released his first solo work, ‘Steve Lacy’s Demo,’ a collection of songs he had written and produced since 2015, with ‘Some’ being a standout track that combines indie, soul, and lo-fi elements. ‘Dark Red,’ another track from the EP, exemplifies his versatility, featuring darker tones, tight drum loops, a groovy bassline, and killer vocals. All of this was recorded and produced on his iPhone, proving his theory of the ‘Bare Maximum.’

His influence extends beyond his solo work. In 2017, he co-wrote and produced Ravyn Lenae’s EP ‘Crush.’ His presence is unmistakable in Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-winning album ‘DAMN.,’ where the song ‘Pride’ showcases his signature swirling guitar and programmed drums.

Image Courtesy: Billboard

In 2019, Lacy released his first solo LP, ‘Apollo XXI,’ just a day after his 21st birthday. The album is a fusion of funk, R&B, indie, and soul, delving into topics like break-ups, success, self-image, and his perspective on the world.

‘Playground,’ another track from ‘Apollo XXI,’ is a funky, dance-inducing gem, and its music video pays homage to the music and effects of the ’70s, blending vintage and modern elements seamlessly.

Image Courtesy: ABC

As we’ve witnessed over the last five years, the rise of bedroom pop artists and indie musicians has been monumental. Steve Lacy is not just a musician; he inspires many. His story of creating beats and producing songs with nothing more than a smartphone and basic software is a beacon of hope for aspiring artists with limited resources. Lacy’s impact extends far beyond his music; he motivates others to explore their sounds, discover new artists and create. As he continues to evolve and experiment with his unique ‘Plaid’ style, we can’t help but be excited for what the future holds.

Comparisons to music icons like Brian Eno, Dr. Dre, Mark Ronson, and Calvin Harris are not unwarranted, but there’s a strong feeling that Steve Lacy is on a trajectory to become a household name in the years to come. He’s achieved so much in just five years, and the potential for the next 5, 10, or even 20 years is bound to be breathtaking. Steve Lacy is not an artist you want to sleep on. 

-Britney Jones