Who Is Steve Lacy? 9 Things To Know About The "Bad Habit" Artist Defining Gen Z
Culture & Entertainment

Who Is Steve Lacy? 9 Things To Know About The "Bad Habit" Artist Defining Gen Z

Compton-born singer Steve Lacy has made a name for himself in recent years, thanks to songs like the mega-hit "Bad Habit." Touted as a sonic love child of the likes of Stevie Wonder meets Prince, the 25-year-old has carved a lane of his own as a producer, singer-songwriter, and guitarist to the tune of a dazzling genre-bending blend of rock, R&B, and pop songs that are as infectious as they are intricate.

The breakout success of "Bad Habit" and the positive reception of his Grammy award-winning sophomore album Gemini Rights proves how deeply Steve has cemented his position in the lane he's decided to occupy, which according to the "N Side" artist is a place that is "far removed" from the industry.

Steve Lacy - Bad Habit (Official Video)

But who is the musician beyond the iconic braids and viral hits defining Gen Z? If you're just getting familiar, here are 9 things about Steve Lacy you should know:

1.For Steve Lacy, owning his narrative is important and he doesn't like to be placed in a box:

In a 2022 interview, he told The Guardian:

“Something big for me as a kid, and to this day, is owning my narrative. I didn’t want to do things if it would put a title on me. As a kid, there was so much homophobia. I love dance but I was like, I don’t want people to assume I’m gay, so I didn’t discover dancing. A lot of people didn’t know I could sing until I put some music out because I didn’t want my family to be, ‘Oh yeah, Steve’s a singer – Steve, sing us something!’ I just didn’t want anyone to assume something. I’m just weird!”

2.He had a near-death experience involving a drunk driver who crashed into him.

Steve touched on the topic of his near-death experience that happened three years ago for a recent cover story with Variety, where it was detailed that his car got crashed into by a drunk driver who hit him at full speed.

“Being that close to death, I had the realization that you could be doing everything right, and then some fucking dumbass can crash into your car head-on. And that could be it.”

3.Steve used to cold pitch beats to artists he admired and eventually worked with Kendrick Lamar on his song "PRIDE":

In his teens, Steve was friends with musician Jameel Bruner (who is also musician Thundercat's brother) and became intrigued by the way he created beats on a laptop. Shortly after, he was invited to play with Jameel's group at the time, a band known as The Internet. There, he would send cold pitches to artists like GoldLink and Isaiah Rashad in the form of DMs and emails.

One of his collaborators, singer-songwriter Ezra Koenig from the group Vampire Weekend eventually connected him with DJ Dahi, a producer who would become Steve's mentor and a catalyst for the work Steve would do on Kendrick Lamar's studio album DAMN. Steve revealed to The Guardian:

“I came with a laptop on my back, guitar in my hand, ready for whatever. First thing Kendrick says to me in this room full of guys: ‘Yeah, I seen your face in some music videos’. I said, ‘Hey, yours too man!’ I did it, broke the ice. We start jamming on new ideas, he’s playing me stuff he’s working on for Damn. I’m handling myself really cool, calm and collected, but I was freaking the fuck out, you know? There was a moment when it was quiet, Kendrick was on his phone, and I was like: let me play you some beats. Really scary – I jumped off the cliff.”

“I was in London the first time it came out. I walked to the Starbucks down the street and I’m listening to the album, and by the time I get back to the hotel, Pride is playing, I’m crying, the Damn electronic billboard is right there – I’m like, what the hell is my life?”

4.Steve is ambivalent to the 'queer icon' status the media tries to assign him because of his sexuality:

“I don’t like to handle that stuff in a way that’s shocking. I don’t feel brave or tough, it’s just how I exist... It should be a joke that we put so much emphasis on sexuality." - via LA Times

"I never care to speak for anyone else, because I think all of our experiences are so different from each other,” he says. “I guess I have a selfish perspective of myself in the world, and I’m just expressing myself. I’m not necessarily doing things for other people to feel good about themselves." - via Variety

5.Steve Lacy on not feeling like he 'needed' to come out as bisexual and thinking it's 'silly':

“But I didn’t really come out. I didn’t try to — it just kinda happened. I don’t care to announce who I’m into sexually. I think it’s silly. I never felt like I needed to come out.” - via Variety

6.Though 'Gemini Rights' is inspired by his breakup with his ex-boyfriend, Steve insists his art is about himself:

“I have no idea what he’s up to. This is my job, you know? Songs are not really about him. They’re about me. I’ve got to do this to feel less crazy or alone.” - via LA Times

In an interview with The Guardian that was published a few months earlier than the one quoted above, Steve said this about his split with his ex and their whirlwind seven-month relationship:

"I just felt like I tried, I kept trying, I kept wanting to try, and nothing was working. [I wanted to] just communicate openly, but it was just hard. But I made a great record, and I love him, it’s all good.”

7.He owes his curiousity to his late Filipino father: 

In an interview with the LA Times, Steve acknowledged the memory of his late Filipino father and acknowledges a gift he left him with:

“I definitely feel parts of him for sure. I was really young and I didn’t get to meet the whole him. I have to rely on stories from my mom to tell me what he was like, but he left me with a curiosity to understand things deeper. My mom said he was very intuitive.”

8.Therapy helped Steve see art for what it was instead of what it could be:

In an interview with The Guardian, the singer-songwriter shared, that therapy allowed him to “be more open in creating, moving the things out of the way that will keep me from being my best self. I was getting rid of that pedestal: an Artist. No – we’re all people contributing to a collective consciousness.”

9.Steve says there's freedom in not having to conform in order to have success: 

“I didn’t have to conform to whatever would make me a ‘success.’ I didn’t have to have people in my ear telling me what will work. I feel more freedom now than expectations, because I didn’t have to change anything. I just had to get better.” - via LA Times

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Featured image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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