Nowadays, young artists are collaborating more than ever, but every once in a while we still get a pairing so naturally perfect you just have to sit back and be grateful. Such is the case with supremely talented teens Ravyn Lenae and Steve Lacy, whose EP, Crush, is out now.
Preceded by the funky, knotty single "Sticky," Crush showcases Lenae's mesmerizing voice and penchant for slithery harmonies atop Lacy's production, which is filled with unique chord progressions and rich live instrumentation. The five song project features two credited appearances by Lacy, on "Computer Luv" and "4 Leaf Clover," and he also serves as its executive producer.
Though strong top to bottom, particular highlights include "The Night Song," which showcases Lenae's airy soprano and Lacy's lush bass line while still maintaining a spacious cool and "Computer Luv," where the pair harmonize on a love song that bristles with analog electricity. In an interview last February with Pigeons & Planes, Lenae talked about her unique songwriting approach and how she integrates her producers into that framework.
"I don’t want to sound crazy but when working with producers or just write in general, I like to create characters. None of my songs are actually me, they’re characters I’ve created. So everyone has yet to hear Ravyn Lenae’s story. They all occupy this other world in my head," she explained. "I can’t tell a story without creating characters and a plot, and the producers I work with help me create that whole scenery—the fairytale, I guess. So a lot of my songs have this sense of delicacy, imagery, sometimes elegance…I like to play with different themes."
While still incredibly young, both Lenae and Lacy have staggering lists of mentors and collaborators. Lacy is a member of L.A. band The Internet and has produced for Kendrick Lamar and Syd. Lenae is part of the Chicago-based collective Zero Fatigue with rapper-singer Smino and producer Monte Booker and recently supported both SZA and Noname on tour. Speaking to Beats 1's Matt Wilkinson, Lacy talked about his dynamic with Lenae and making the most of his opportunity to produce a project in full.
"I do everything production wise and she comes in [...] It was dope because she’s so young and she’s not locked into a certain style or vocal range so anything I’d give her she’s like ‘I got you,’" he said. "It’s also a different producer side of me. It’s entirely produced by me, the first thing that I’m entirely producing. When I got the opportunity I looked at is as like, 'Yes, this is my Pharrell/Kelis, my Timbaland/Aaliyah, my J*Davey moment.' I had to take it."