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Steve Lacy’s New Release, “The Lo-Fis” Is a Love Letter To His Youth

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Now technically, “The Lo-Fis” is a “new” release from artist Steve Lacy – but a lot of these songs have been floating around in the SoundCloud sphere for quite some time now. Steve Lacy’s baby highschool self-made most of the songs that are featured on “The Lo-Fis,” and now they are finally being officially released, mixed in along with some brand-new quick demos as well. 

In this way, “The Lo-Fis” almost acts as a yearbook for Steve Lacy’s youth as an artist – the sounds, themes, and melodies that he innately gravitated to at that time are being dug back up as if these songs are what he decided to put in his class time capsule. Now digging it back up, we can fully admire the level of mastery, introspection, and fearless-ness Lacy had as just a teenager when it came to the way he approached music. 

That air of tangible youth is interwoven throughout “The Lo-Fis.” The presence of youth on this project branches out into various thematic elements and contemplations that Lacy approaches with a certain level of tenderness. This profound expression of unapologetic purity, a deep yearning for love, and a growing hunger for life that is communicated throughout this project is what pushes him to reminiscence on his past innocence. 

What’s really interesting about this project is that there isn’t a true line drawn in the sand when it comes to deciphering which tracks are from highschool Lacy and which are new. This is not to say that Lacy’s growth isn’t fully realized throughout this project but rather that it comes full circle. “The Lo-Fis” is a project that literally makes past and present Lacy face, meet, and converse with one another – shaking hands, sharing a smoke, having to look one another in the eye.

Photo Credit to Okayplayer

Normally, this setup of the past mingling with the present sound of an artist would instill this rigidity of: here is what they used to sound like (less evolved) and now they sound like this (more evolved). This observation is again still true in the case of Steve Lacy – but Lacy even back in high school was taking huge experimental leaps. 

Lacy is an artist that’s growth is more like that of a river – it is always moving, steadily in a way that makes the whole stream seem to flow harmoniously. You can’t tell each drop of water from the next, although the differentiation is there – the cohesiveness is what remains visible instead.

During the track “Thats No Fun,” has Lacy directly confronting his ever-evolving and changing sense of self. On this track, his highschool buddies give him a hard time when they see his growth as a form of detachment from childhood or even as a threat to their comfortability as they hold onto the past like a beloved teddy bear.

He sings on the hook, “I change, you change. Why would one stay the same? That’s no fun. You’re strange, so strange. If you choose to remain the same.”

“The Lo-Fis” as a title articulates perfectly the gritty, R&B neo-soul inspiration to the beats. However, Lacy also is known to dabble in disco and pop elements as well. He has his classic Steve Lacy love ballads sprinkled throughout the project – but also his more reckless and rebel energy shines through on others. The way Lacy utilizes and transforms his voice accordingly to whatever sound is being expressed just shows his fluidity as a vocalist. 

On some tracks, he uses the dark and deep tone to his voice- almost rapping non-chalently, taking his time. On other tracks, he will bear his falsetto and illuminate his incomprehensible range. On the love ballads, his voice carries with it an angelic, sweetness – that purity of youth once again taking the lead. 

“4Real” is a standout track, as it doesn’t seem to sound like anything else on the project. The beat starts out with these heavy, hard snare drums shooting off like fireworks. Lacy’s falsetto seems to come alive on this track. He dives headfirst into the shrill growl his voice can take on and runs with it. It’s a culmination of pop, punk, and soul with a dash of something you can’t quite put your finger on – Steve Lacy’s touch on a track.

Go reminisce and listen to “The Lo-Fis” and hopefully it will hold you off till Lacy’s future drop!

Maddy Ipema
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