By Rashad D. Grove
In today’s R&B landscape, Lucky Daye has become a torchbearer of the genre’s rich history while simultaneously curating music that defies labels. Since he started Painted released in 2019, the multiple Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter redefined modern R&B through, as he puts it, “a futuristic sci-fi world shaped by the inspiration of Afrofuturism.” In other words, with her evocative songwriting and penchant for crafting haunting melodies, Daye aims to take her listeners back to the future. This unique pattern is what he believes sets him apart from his peers.
“I think I bring individuality to the music industry. I’m not trying to fall into a mode of what everyone thinks an R&B artist should be,” Daye told MTV News over the phone in March, “I just put my foot down and was like, y’all can have the labels. I’m just me, and that’s what I bring to the table. I want people to know that I want them to hear my songs more than that.
With his second album, CandyDripreleased on March 10, the New Orleans native, who previously wrote songs for Keith Sweat, Ne-Yo, Boyz II Men, Keke Palmer, Ella Mai and Mary J. Blige, further solidifies his place on the music scene contemporary as an artist to be reckoned with.
Conceptually, CandyDrip was conceived from a series of jam sessions over the course of a few days in Los Angeles. According to Daye, while recording he was in a creative zone where he collaborated with some of the scene’s most accomplished and innovative musicians, including guitarist Pierre-Luc Rioux, violinist Peter Lee Johnson, trombonist Chris Johnson, trumpeter Brandyn Phillips, and multi-instrumentalist Yonatan “xSDTRK” Ayal, to name a few. In creating the LP, Daye immersed himself in the process, venting all of his pent up energy and channeling his creative prowess. This power is immediately apparent on the silky softness of “Guess” and on the reflective “Compassion”. The undeniable synergy of these sessions eventually evolved into the link for CandyDripwhich, according to Daye, is his biggest artistic statement to date.
“We rented EastWest Studios and called every musician we knew,” he recalls, shouting at Frank Ocean’s recording house Orange Channel, among other albums. “These ideas were so special that we took these skeletons and built them throughout the pandemic. Once we got to the end of everything and were close to releasing the album, we started mixing a lot of songs. In fact, you can split the album into two different halves.
The duality is also reflected in its title. “It’s called CandyDrip because it triggers your senses, your musical taste buds. Some things may make you cringe, and some things will make you say, wow, that was an amazing dish.
The album’s first two singles – “NWA” featuring Lil Durk and “Over” – are snapshots of those recording sessions, and both tracks received critical acclaim upon release. Each captures another dimension of Daye and her desire to push the limits of her creativity. On “NWA,” Daye floats effortlessly over a mid-tempo bounce track where he hints at a run-in with the police, while on “Over,” which samples Musiq Soulchild’s “Halfcrazy,” he’s trapped in a toxic relationship where there seems to be no escape. Both songs reveal the dimensions of Daye’s personality and his immense versatility as a singer-songwriter.
Heavily influenced by Usher’s vocal styles and the sonic mastery of Missy “Misdemeanor”‘ Elliott and Timbaland, Daye also discussed how Crescent City’s sound left an indelible mark on his musicality and is a fundamental imprint of the album. .
“The New Orleans influence had a major impact on my music. There are Spanish, French, Haitian and American influences, so it’s a gumbo of sounds,” he said. “You go out on the streets and it still feels like Paris, so it gives you this freedom to experiment with music. I think coming from this place made me limitless as an artist and it left me believing that I could do anything. It gave me a lot of confidence with my music.
After her critically acclaimed EP Table for two released last year, it earned two Grammy nominations for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best Progressive R&B Album, bringing Daye’s total career nominations to six. Since then, however, he says he has grown tremendously as an artist and as a person. He expressed his internal struggle to navigate through the pressure of creating his highly anticipated second album and dealing with his fans’ expectations. While his first official project, that of 2019 Paintedwas created for himself, on this album he aims to showcase his metamorphosis.
“I think I’ve evolved a lot since the first album, especially because I’ve worked with a lot of different artists. I think I learned to let people live and let things go and just bring good vibes to my music,” he said. “Also, I realized that I don’t make music just for me anymore. With the first album, I didn’t have any outside opinions like I did for this album. I still have anxiety about it because I don’t want to let people down.
A commonality that runs through all of Daye’s work is the organic chemistry and partnership he forged with longtime collaborator, Grammy-winning Dernst “D’Mile” Emile, who produced the entire debut album. de Daye and the majority of CandyDripincluding the jaw-dropping “Cherry Forest” and the alluring, climactic closing track “Ego.”
“My relationship with D’Mile goes beyond music. Music was what we had in common, even though we almost gave up. We were on our way back, but now he’s like the go-to R&B producer. When people think of him, they think of me. I see him as my family, not only in music but in life.
Not only has he released a new album, but Daye is also headlining his own nationwide tour in support of the project. Like many other artists, this is the first time he’s hit the road for live performances since the COVID-19 pandemic halted most concerts. He says he can’t wait to experience the crowd energy he’s missed so much.
“I can’t wait to get back on the road. It’s been over two years,” he said enthusiastically. “I can’t wait to see all my fans and supporters.”
Although steeped in contemporary R&B, CandyDrip is an amalgamation of all the musical forces that shaped Lucky Daye. Traces of hip-hop, soul, blues and gospel are sprinkled throughout the project. It’s an invitation on a journey to explore a range of emotions, the art of sensuality, and features some of Daye’s finest vocal performances. CandyDrip is a reminder of Lucky Daye’s artistic progression and how his music is just the flavor we need.