Alternative R&B artist Steve Lacy has been breaking records and boundaries over the past few months with his music. Ever since the release of his hit song “Bad Habit” on June 29, his talents have been at the forefront of the music industry. The recent trajectory of his career has audiences intrigued about his influence on popular music.
Finding his footing in the music industry
Early in his career, Lacy started as the lead guitarist and producer of The Internet, an R&B/soul band. The experimental group consisted of five members, including R&B vocalist Syd and keyboardist Matt Martians. Its sound stood out from the rest of the scene, as it infused elements of R&B, jazz and dance into its music. Lacy’s efforts helped the group earn its first nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2016 for its debut release “Ego Death.”
The beginning of Lacy’s independence
Lacy started his solo career in early 2015 with the release of his song “C U Girl.” The lyrics about struggling with a long-distance relationship laid over a groovy instrumental helped garner a notable amount of attention to the song. Lacy used the program GarageBand to bring his auditory ideas to life.
Following his debut single, Lacy came out with his 2017 EP titled “Steve Lacy’s Demo.” He managed to create a solid and cohesive body of work, full of hypnotic tracks like “Thangs” and “Some” This project gave him his first of many hit songs, “Dark Red.” Throughout this track, Lacy examines the anxieties that relationships bring and the fear of losing a special connection with a partner. As it started to trend on TikTok, the ominous R&B track started to become a hit in February of 2022. Since then, the single has continued to rise in popularity, currently sitting at over 500 million streams on Spotify.
Boldly Embracing His Artistic Side
Lacy followed the release of his EP with his debut album, “Apollo XXI”. The collection of intimate songs saw an instant liking from the general public, as well as critical acclaim from numerous publications. Tracks like “Playground” and “Basement Jack” standout from the rest of the project by showing sides of the musician that we hadn’t heard before. His experimental take on R&B captivated audiences and created a surge of success. Lacy’s work created curiosity about what directions he would take his music in next, and fans were overwhelmed with his intimate risk-taking on the album. Years later, an album track titled “N Side” started to gain a significant amount of attention online. The smooth sounding synths and melodies throughout the track have earned the song almost 100 million streams on Spotify, and the number is still growing daily.
In December of 2020, Lacy released a new body of work named “The Lo-Fis”. This project helped him prove his ability to reinvent his sound in genre-bending ways, while also keeping his music authentic. With raw instrumentation and attention-grabbing song titles, he was able to prove himself as an artist that has the integrity to innovate. Songs like “Jars of It” and “Infrunami” are prime examples of this, since they play with the idea of blending distinct sounds in a cohesive manner. Although this album did not see the same commercial success as his debut, Lacy still managed to captivate audiences with the risks that he was taking in his career.
The turning point of Lacy’s career
June of 2022 changed everything for Lacy. He started out the month by releasing the first single, “Mercury,” from his sophomore album. The melancholic track showed a vulnerable side of Lacy, feeling like everything is going in the wrong direction. With the song being full of bright background vocals and unique diction, he was able to shape shift in his music once again. A few weeks later, Lacy released his worldwide hit “Bad Habit”. Unlike previous releases, this song saw chart success in a way that we’ve never seen from Lacy. The song debuted at No. 100 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, marking his first charting hit, and has been climbing the charts since. This playful track also managed to become the first song in history to top the R&B/Hip Hop Songs Chart and Alternative Songs Chart at the same time.
Following the release of these two game-changing songs, Lacy came out with his frisky sophomore record “Gemini Rights”. After receiving his most positive response from both publications and fans, Lacy scored his first top 10 album. The alternative R&B album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, and has been consistently charting since. Numerous deep cuts from this ambitious album have been getting noticed online, but the opening track “Static” has garnered the most attention since the release of “Bad Habit”. This emotionally-heavy track debuted at No. 98 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Lacy’s second song to appear on the chart.
Yet to reach his peak, Lacy has shown that individuality in the music industry still grabs the attention of audiences. Regardless of the records that he is breaking, he continues to share his character through the auditory art that is music. There is more to come for the experimental artist’s career, and there is more for us to hear from him.
Hi, my name is Payton Barry. I am a senior at OHS, and this is my first year being a part of the staff at 42Fifty. I am involved in some of our school's extracurricular activities, which include Commotion and Theater. I adore music, pop culture, and I am beyond excited to be an Arts & Entertainment editor!