Lucky Daye | Photo by Madeleine Dalla c/o Keep Cool/RCA Records
“[I] know it’s been a while/ Since you left, I been solo/ Now you like to dance, I went ham on your photos.”
As I writer, I appreciate well-penned song lyrics. In the 22 words opening lines above, Lucky Daye accomplished so much. Since he’s split from an old girlfriend a while back, he’s solo and emotionally so low. What’s he being doing with the time that he presumably would like to be spending with her? Peeping her social feeds. And boy, has she been living! Among other findings, Lucky sees that she’s picked up a new hobby: Dancing.
Over a simple guitar riff, he sets the tone for what will be a moving mid-tempo song about being at the intersection of lack and yearning, looking at the phone and hoping that special someone will ring you. What I love just as much as the lyrics is that they’re paired with a bouncing Bossa Nova-lite instrumental that doesn’t scream “SAD!” His voice and harmonies are what make this an R&B track. Sad bops, a genre that I’d define as songs that are lyrical tearjerkers with beats that make you dance, are hard to come by. But here I am, grooving to Dayes’ pain like it’s a club record. Well done.
Last December, my wife and I were driving from the crib in North Hollywood to The Forum in Inglewood to see Travis Scott. You might assume we blasted some music that matched the energy of the alt Hip-Hop artist we were about to see. But as we pulled out of the driveway, I felt like giving a new guy a spin.
I’d just gotten an email about Daye, a New Orleans singer who had just dropped the first third of his album at the end of November. I heard his debut single “Roll Some Mo” on Spotify’s Are & Be playlist and was in possession of the rough version of his entire album thanks to a link his publicist at the time emailed me. During the hour-long drive, I would often interrupt whatever conversation we were having to say some variation of the following: “Damn, this dude is talented!” My girl agreed.
Digesting it, we marveled at what the rest of the world would later know as II when it dropped at the top of February and the trilogy in its whole form, entitled Painted, on Memorial Day weekend.
Being a sharer, it’s no fun silently sitting on fire music. Since that Christmastime cruise, I’ve wanted to jump online and tell folk about the glory and sadness of Painted‘s “Flood.” Or the basic conversational beauty of “Misunderstood.” Oh, and the bridge on “Call”? *Palms face*
But I didn’t want to share that link I was trusted with, nor did I want to encourage any Internet lames to start their engines and go sleuthing for songs Lucky didn’t want found at the time. When Painted finally dropped in full, I played it like I’d never heard it before. And it’s been in steady rotation since. I used to really get off on hearing amazing music early because of my work and access. Now I can’t for people to sing what I’ve been humming to myself.
Yesterday I was on the set of my guy Theophilus London’s video for his upcoming single “PRETTY.” During lunch, one of the actors for the short put down his chips and guac’ to connect his phone to a speaker and play music. The first song he cued up? Lucky’s “Real Games.” Several heads in the room the room began to bounce with familiarity. One actress looked up from her glowing iPhone screen with curiosity to ask who it was she was hearing for the first time. “I like this!” she said through a smile. I just took it all in, laughing and dapping up a the DJ as the song morphed into its second, rap-heavy half.
R&B comes in many different forms nowadays. The genre is full and diverse. SZA. Childish Gambino. Steve Lacey. Solange. Sid. They all are in this Cosmic R&B world I’ve been enjoying. Lucky’s in there, too. His voice has a charming soulfulness to it that sells his love songs, just enough dirt on it to support the raps sprinkled throughout Painted, and the splashes of funk and jazz are refreshing, to say the least.
For those of you who just got hip to Lucky, welcome! For y’all who haven’t given him a burn yet, there’s still room on the luxury bandwagon I’m driving. In honor of Daye’s roots we’re serving gumbo, followed by beignets. You are also welcome.