Photo: Alice Limmer
With 'Candydrip,' Lucky Daye Is Ready To Deliver A New Kind Of R&B: "I Didn't Want To Sound Like Everybody Else"
As the six-time GRAMMY nominee releases his second album, Lucky Daye reveals his secret to creating a great project: making something you didn't see coming
Four years after releasing his debut album, Lucky Daye still likes to keep his fans guessing.
The New Orleans native has had a winding career so far, getting his start as a backup vocalist and songwriter for R&B sensations like Keith Sweat, Ne-Yo, Boyz II Men, and Mary J. Blige. Born David Brown, Daye became a rising R&B star in his own right upon releasing his debut album, 2019's Painted, to widespread acclaim, including four GRAMMY nominations.
After garnering two more nods at this year's GRAMMYs with his superb 2021 EP, Table For Two (which, he revealed, could get a sequel — more on that later), the singer/songwriter continues to shake things up with his second LP, Candydrip.
"I didn't wanna sound like everybody else," Daye explains to GRAMMY.com. "What's important to me is making my own body of work that I can invite people into."
He does just that on Candydrip. Whether he's bringing retro funk ("Feel Like This"), raw vocals backed by anthemic production ("Used To Be Yours"), or star-studded rap collaborations ("NWA," featuring Lil Durk), Daye gives R&B a whole new meaning.
Ahead of Candydrip's release, GRAMMY.com caught up with Lucky Daye about his latest project, two new GRAMMY nominations, and why it's important for him to create the unexpected.
You did some virtual shows throughout the pandemic, but your U.S. Candydrip Tour will be your first real trek in a few years. How have you been preparing for it?
A lot of rehearsals, just trying to create something different. I wanna give people what they expect and then [go] left.
I just like to come in a different way. I don't like to be so direct — like, here's a band, here's some backup singers and some dancers. I wanna make it an experience. So, I'm brainstorming a lot, thinking about how to make it fun.
Are you excited to finally see your fans in-person again?
Oh yeah, I'm super excited to see them, to hear them. They're like the lifeline. That's my part where I can go crazy, is on stage.
Did you take touring into consideration when recording the album? For example, I can see "NWA" with Lil Durk being a crowd-hyper.
No. I think if I did do that, I would probably put out fast songs. But I can't let my tempo lead my emotions. So, you know, you can always speed them up [Laughs].
Speaking of "NWA," you've said in the past that you're a big fan of Lil Durk's. How did that collaboration come about?
It was pretty simple. I was just being honest, I think I tweeted that he's my favorite rapper. It was during quarantine, so I was listening to everything — I'm searching, searching, searching through all the music that was out. And I was like, 'Alright, I've searched all the people I don't know, let me search all the people I do know.'
I got to Durk, and was like, "Yep, figured that [he'd be my favorite] already." It was between Durk, NBA Youngboy [YoungBoy Never Broke Again] and Young Thug. They're my favorite [rappers].
What made you think he'd be a good fit on the track?
When I think somebody's dope, then whatever they do is gonna be fire, because I know I'm dope, too. So, what I'm gonna do is take what you got — even if it don't fit — and make it fit. I know how to make something out of nothing.
Besides Durk, what were some of your other favorite collaborations on the album?
I love them all, I wouldn't work with anybody that's not a favorite. Smino is on there, everybody knows Smino. I've been a fan of Smino's for a while.
Chiiild, that's a friend of mine. I was in the studio with him during Painted, but we never really did anything together. So, it was a good time for us to call a meeting. One day we booked out EastWest [Studios to record] a majority of the backbone of the album, and Chiiild was there. So, it was like, 'Yo, whatever you just did, we need that.' That was crazy.
You've said Candydrip is for your day-one fans. Did you have a sonic goal in mind for the project? Was there a way you wanted it to sound?
Well, I knew what I didn't want it to sound like. That's what I go by. I didn't wanna sound like everybody else. I knew everybody was gonna try to go 808s, bop tempos and all this other stuff. I knew I could do that at any time.
What's important to me is making my own body of work that I can invite people into. So what I did was create it first, and then at the end, we did "Over" and these other straightforward songs. We allowed a space to have freedom first, and then followed the rules.
I want people to know [my projects are] gonna be something to wait for. You might love it, you might hate it, but it's not gonna be what you thought it was.
Did you start working on Candydrip right after you released Table For Two?
I started working on it before Table For Two, but it was more, like, scratches. I don't go to the studio, record one song and be done. I might do, like, 100 songs and then pick the best five, which is tough. And then it's a process of elimination from there. It's a process, so we started early.
Picking five songs out of 100 — that sounds tough.
Yeah, there's so much I never used. And what's crazy is there's more songs on this album than my first album, but it's less time.
Do you think you'll ever release what you didn't use? Or were those songs recorded specifically for Candydrip?
Yeah, they were recorded for this purpose. I learned not to mix what I write for projects with what I write for creative purposes. I write every day. That's bench presses to me.
You're currently nominated for two GRAMMY Awards for Table For Two. What about that project makes it the most special to you?
I mean, Table For Two was so good, to me, because I didn't expect it at all. It came out of left field. Especially with the pandemic and everything, and the timing of it. Being able to work with Yebba, who's already a GRAMMY winner. Being able to work with such talented people — and we did that with the home team as well, like, the same people that did the Painted visuals, they were involved with the Table For Two videos.
It just had a nice, nostalgic feeling for everybody. And it turned out amazing, because it was all women features. I have a whole lot more songs with other girls that I didn't put on it. Maybe there'll be a [second] one.
When you say you didn't expect it — you didn't expect the response it got, or for it to come together so perfectly?
I wasn't gonna put it out, at all. It was just for me. I have a library of songs.
Wow, imagine if you didn't release it. You got two GRAMMY nominations from it!
All the talented women you featured on the project definitely made it stand out, too.
Yeah, I wanted to go to all their different worlds and bring it into one.
You made a surprise appearance during Musiq Soulchild and Anthony Hamilton's Verzuz and performed the Candydrip cut "Over," which was dope. Did Musiq reach out to you about performing, or did you reach out to him?
What happened was, we reached out to him about the last song on the album ["Over," which samples Musiq's hit, "Halfcrazy"]. We reached out to him, like, 'Can we get this [sample] cleared?' And then we found out he wasn't the reason the song even existed; it wasn't his sample. It was someone else's sample, like a Spanish song.
The original was in 4/4, the one I knew with Musiq Soulchild was in 3/4. And I was trying to make something, like, psychologically familiar to people — since every beat you hear, everyone's always like, 'What's the sample?' I don't really do that — sample songs — so it was a shot in the dark. But we tried it coming from that angle.
Musiq hit me, giving me all this praise [for the song], which was nuts. And I responded, of course, like, 'Thanks bro, that means a lot.' We tried to get him to perform with me at the [2021 BET] Soul Train Awards, but he had another show. And then he reached out saying, 'I'm doing a Verzuz, it would be fire if you just popped up.'
What was it like performing on a platform like Verzuz?
I was thinking about singing with Musiq. I was like, 'Damn, I'm singing with Musiq. I'm about to get on the stage with Musiq.' I shared the stage with Musiq.
Yeah, every single time it's just different. When I walk onto a different artist's stage, it's like they're welcoming me to their house. And it's like, 'Whoa, this energy is nice.' It's always different.
At this point, R&B has really carried —
The whole pandemic.
Right! A lot of Verzuz battles, that's for sure. What do you think about the state of R&B right now?
I think it's in a good place. It's kind of a wave that's coming; you can feel it. So many people that are just getting into music — they just needed to see this; they needed to see how it can go, where it can go, if that's something they wanna do. We're trying to show the world, as a genre, that music can't go forward without the life of R&B.
As for the future of R&B, then, you think it will continue to push itself and other genres forward?
Exactly. Like it's supposed to.
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best R&B Performance | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best R&B Performance. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which songs have been nominated for Best R&B Performance.
"Love Again" (Performed by Daniel Caesar & Brandy)
Released in July, "Love Again" is a duet between GRAMMY-winning pop/R&B icon Brandy and GRAMMY winner Daniel Caesar, taken from Caesar's second album Case Study 01. Caesar won Best R&B Performance at the 61st GRAMMY Awards for "Best Part."
"Could've Been" (Performed by H.E.R. Featuring Bryson Tiller)
"Could've Been" was the first and only single taken from H.E.R.'s I Used to Know Her: The Prelude and was later included on the singer's second compilation album, I Used to Know Her. Last year, at the 61st GRAMMY Awards, the perma-shaded artist earned five nominations, including one for Best New Artist. She also won Best R&B Album for her compilation album H.E.R., as well as Best R&B Performance for "Best Part.
"Exactly How I Feel" (Performed by Lizzo Featuring Gucci Mane)
"Exactly How I Feel" shows up on Lizzo's empowering third studio album, Cuz I Love You.
"Vulnerability and strength is what this album is all about," she recently told the Recording Academy in an Up Close & Personal interview.
"When you write these songs you get really excited about them and mind you, I had a song like 'Juice' just under my armpit in the darkness and nobody knew what it sounded like," the singer continued. "Or keeping it a secret that I had Missy Elliott on a song, at that point you just want to explode and when the album was out, I was so excited to just share the songs with people and the world."
"Roll Some Mo" (Performed by Lucky Daye)
The New Orleans R&B singer's first single "Roll Some Mo" is taken from his debut album, Painted, which dropped in May.
"Come Home" (Performed by Anderson .Paak Featuring André 3000)
GRAMMY winner Anderson .Paak brought former OutKast member André 3000 on the opener to his fourth studio album, Ventura, which came out last April.
Poll: Who Would You Vote For Best R&B Album At The 2020 GRAMMYs?
Would it be BJ The Chicago Kid, Anderson .Paak, Ella Mai, PJ Morton or Lucky Daye?
It's an exciting time for R&B. While the genre was said to be seeing less of a crossover into the pop landscape during the 2010s, Nielsen reports there is a rising interest in R&B. The genre, along with hip-hop, made 76 percent of the audio-on-demand streaming in the market in 2019. The 2020 GRAMMY nominees for Best R&B album are among the artists adding to the excitement growing in the genre. To whom would you award a GRAMMY if you could vote?
Would it be BJ the Chicago Kid's 1123? BJ told the Recording Academy the album would be a bit different from his past work. "I've always put my life experiences [in my albums], the new stories, just the new chapters of life I've always included into the music," he said. "I think it's always been the best thing for me, so you will see a big difference between 1123 and In My Mind."
Rising star Lucky Daye has come onto the scene strong with Painted, an album that is not afraid of vulnerability. "I'm sensitive, so my album got a whole lot of sensitivity to it," he told the Recording Academy in July. "As a man, that's hard to say. So I always tell people, I tell my homies, I'm like, 'bruh, if you're scared to cry in front of your girl, don't listen to my music in your car."
PJ Morton's Paul is the "the most honest expression of myself and my art that I've ever made," the singer/songwriter from New Orleans said about the album. Does it deserve the coveted award in your eyes?
But we can't forget about Ella Mai's self-titled album. The much-awaited debut from the English singer included her hit "Boo'd Up," which saw the top of the charts in the U.S. and won Best R&B Song at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards.
Or should Anderson .Paak's Ventura be the winner? The album's name pays ode to the county the singer/songwriter is from and features big collabs including Smokey Robinson, Lalah Hathaway, André 3000 and Brandy.
So who would it be? Let us know by voting above!
Photo: Gladys Vega/Getty Images
Tidal X Rock The Vote Show: Doja Cat, Becky G, CNCO & More Performers Announced
The streaming service's fifth annual benefit concert will raise money for the voting empowerment non-profit ahead of the 2020 election
Today, streaming platform TIDAL announced the lineup and details for their fifth annual benefit concert, which will support nonprofit Rock the Vote this year. TIDAL X Rock the Vote will take place on Oct. 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and will feature Alicia Keys, Becky G, G-Eazy, Carnage, Farruko, Ty Dolla $ign, CNCO, Doja Cat, Dermot Kennedy, Lucky Daye and more.
Our #TIDALxRockTheVote concert benefiting voter education & rights goes down at @BarclaysCenter on 10/21.— TIDAL (@TIDAL) October 3, 2019
TIDAL Members: Get a limited time offer @ 12PM ET. https://t.co/3NQaxSTVUQ. pic.twitter.com/RkkCS4vp5u
New York Hot 97 radio powerhouse Angie Martinez will host the event, of which all net proceeds will be donated to Rock the Vote. Established in 1990, the nonprofit focusing on registering and engaging more people, especially young people, to vote. As we approach the 2020 elections, their work is understandably vital.
Early bird discount tickets are currently available for TIDAL members until 4:00 p.m. ET today. At that time, tickets will go on sale to the general public. More info can be found here.