The first time Steve Lacy performed “Mercury” it was in front of an unsuspecting and adoring Coachella crowd. While it might not have been outlined in the set-list, the singer felt particularly grateful for his fans, sharing “It’s crazy, I feel like I got off the Internet and you guys just spread my shit like wildfire.” Both inclined to play the track and also nervous to see their reactions, he gave it a go, and well, the rest was history. Looking back, this moment felt like the beginning of something big. While any fan of Steve’s knew what he was capable of as a producer and singer, this alt-RnB Bossa Nova hybrid felt like the antecedent to a larger scale cultural shift. And I’m happy to report that I wasn’t wrong.
A successful album, sold out tour and number one single later (three weeks in counting), it’s fair to say that Gemini Rights projected Steve Lacy to a level of success he’d yet experienced. Since the album came out, he’s received various accolades from fellow musicians and mega exposure through TikTok — so much so that he’s released a sped up version of “Bad Habits” to correlate with the hype. As you’d imagine this new level of fame and recognition from new fans has led to a certain level of skepticism from his older fanbase, creating a tourist vs. local rivalry. Accusing some concert-goers who seem to only know the hooks of his most popular tracks is one thing (and a pretty reasonable one), however, Steve Lacy’s new-found mega-fame isn’t quite what you would call selling out.
You see, prior to this boost in popularity, Steve Lacy’s light shone just as bright behind the scenes. He first met his former The Internet bandmate Jameel Bruner, who took a liking to him and invited him to hang out with his band, in his freshman year of high school. Impressed by his musical prowess the band welcomed him to contribute to a couple of tracks, and later on, join the ensemble. This was the first of many for Lacy as well as the beginning of a band that helped shape the most recent iteration of the alternative RnB scene in its infancy. From then on, Lacy developed a reputation among artists and fans for his minimalistic, yet ingenious production style. Notorious for exclusively using GarageBand to produce his music and being the mind behind Kendrick Lamar’s “PRIDE,” Steve Lacy has been “it” for years now, he simply wasn’t one to aggressively flaunt it.
Don’t get me wrong, his music was always embraced by his immediate following. However, it was only until 2019 when he released his debut album Apollo XXI that the ambers, which his fans had been eagerly spreading for years, finally lit up mainstream audiences. And by the time Gemini Rights came out, all bets were off.
All things considered, this Lacy-mania really is just the aftermath of people acknowledging Steve’s blatant talent. And everything else that comes with this love is simply the aftershock of the retrograde.