Lucky Daye’s Career Trajectory Makes Him A Deserving 2022 Grammy Winner

Being at the forefront of R&B and comparable to legendary figures within the genre like Usher and Frank Ocean is not an easy title, but David Brown goes above and beyond, while being known for his charm. Professionally known as Lucky Daye, the artist has become a pinnacle of new age R&B that placed him in the hot seat for two 2022 Grammys, winning one.

Raised in New Orleans, Daye’s sound is inspired by his Southern roots, effortlessly mixing old school with contemporary soul to create experimental R&B. The definition of what modern R&B is supposed to sound like has been tipping the scales thanks to artists like Daye who have defied labels within the genre. Between soulful interludes and mesmerizing ballads of adoration, listeners are incapable of not falling for Daye’s charm and getting lost in his voice.

With the recent release of his second album Candydrip, the passionate offering derives from a place of emotion, which isn’t a new method for him. In 2019, his first album Painted was his debut into artistry as an up-and-coming musician and proved himself as a force to be reckoned with. In addition, the singer’s background as a songwriter for legends like Mary J. Blige and Ne-Yo gained his notoriety and led to him signing with BMI. But this is something that Daye’s number one fans — labeled his “Daye Ones” — would already be familiar with. Out of the 132 accounts that he follows on Instagram, one of the fortunate fan pages that happened to make the cut is @daye.ones. He’s deemed as a kind artist, often thanking his Daye Ones and leaving free concert tickets for them via a city-wide scavenger hunt.

Some would consider producer Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II a Daye One, since the artist has worked with him since Painted for his debut single “Roll Some Mo,” which was released in 2018. Nominated for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance in 2020, the cannabis-inspired single describes Daye’s intimate smoking session with his girl as they’re mentally transported elsewhere while getting high. As the album continues, listeners are taken throughout Daye’s love story, including all of the highs and lows. The remaining 12 tracks keep the same energy as “Roll Some Mo” while exploring love, emotional attachments, and vulnerability. The success of this album led to Daye embarking on the Painted Tour across Canada and the US from September to October in 2019, including an appearance at AFROPUNK Atlanta.

Another highlight of Painted is Daye’s commentary on his religious upbringing, which is seen in songs like “Misunderstood.” Beyond musical inspiration, his stage name derived from fellow soul singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye when the New Orleans native chose to add an “e” to the end of Daye. Similar to Gaye, Daye’s upbringing in a Southern Christian church condemned secular music, therefore leading him to craft this religious trauma into creating his own melodies. Daye found a way to create music with essentially nothing but his voice and eventually ended up in season four of American Idol in 2005. Titled on YouTube as “David Brown audition,” the archaic footage of a twenty-something Daye singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke begs the question — why did it take nearly a decade for his music career to take off?

Clips like Daye’s 2019 NPR Music Tiny Desk appearance show he’s a performer at heart and has a knack for captivating an audience. Throughout the comment section of the YouTube video, fans complimented his vulnerability and flow while restating that Daye’s career in R&B has been long-awaited. His 2019 live rendition of “Buying Time” on the COLORS show is another example of the artist’s tasteful vocal ability to glide over instrumentals. Although his four previous Grammy nominations (“Roll Some Mo” for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance, “Real Games” for Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Painted for Best R&B Album) were to no avail, Daye’s Painted era was only the beginning of his career trajectory.

Prior to the beginning of the pandemic, Daye’s career knew zero boundaries as he was featured on the Robert Glasper-scored soundtrack for The Photograph alongside HER and Erykah Badu. Aimlessly watching the Black love story between Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae’s characters was already intoxicating enough, with the introduction to Daye’s “Fade Away” an added bonus. Then, 2020 was a busy year for the New Orleans native. Among collaborators like Kehlani, Jim-E Stack, Babyface, Buddy, KAYTRANADA, SG Lewis, KIRBY, Kiana Ledé and Leon Bridges, there wasn’t a moment to sleep on Daye’s features in between Painted and his next project.

Following his first tour, Daye’s successful track was cut short by quarantine, which led to intimate recording sessions for his EP, Table For Two. The critically acclaimed seven-track project is composed of duets with women of R&B like Mahalia, Yebba, Joyce Wrice, Ari Lennox, Queen Naija, and Tiana Major9. Keeping the contributors solely women wasn’t a thoughtless tactic, since Daye understood that the women in R&B deserved their flowers for their effortless talent. “I’ve been feeling like it’s time for women to take their rightful place in leadership roles,” Daye said in an interview with W Magazine. “It’s their time to shine. Women need to be seen and heard, and I want to be a part of that.” While singing about the uglier side of a relationship, Daye and his female contributors explored breakups, jealousy, miscommunication, and frustration on the duets project, which was a prequel to Candydrip.

The hype and mystery surrounding Daye’s second album ceased when the artist unveiled the first single “Over,” an electrifying standout track that sampled Musiq Soulchild’s “Halfcrazy” and accompanied a music video that featured Jordyn Woods as his leading lady. Among collaborations like “NWA” featuring Lil Durk, the Smino-assisted track “God Body,” and “Compassion” featuring Canadian soul duo Chiiild, Candydrip reflects Daye’s roots in the Crescent City and is an amalgamation of hip-hop, blues, soul and R&B. As he celebrates the success of Candydrip with his headlining sold-out tour with Joyce Wrice, award show season completed with his two nominations for Table For Two, and a win for Best Progressive R&B Album. To the artist that assumed no one would listen to Painted, turned his personal struggle into success, and sang his heart out onstage during American Idol, milestones such as collaborating with Earth, Wind & Fire are only the tip of the iceberg to what’s in store for his artistry.

Daye said it best during an interview with Harper’s Bazaar in 2021, “I think chemistry isn’t something that you create.” Although the artist is no chemist, he’s certainly correct. Among the love ballads, breakup songs, and quaint interludes dispersed throughout his catalog, the chemistry layered through his discography knows no bounds and leaves listeners with an organic love and understanding for Daye.