Steve Lacy: Photos From the Billboard Cover Shoot

There’s cool, and then there’s unmistakable, timeless cool, the type that can’t be taught but can be felt. Steve Lacy is the second kind; one could wake up from a decadeslong cryogenic slumber, look at the guy and say with confidence, “That’s a cool motherf-cker.” It might be the Batman-esque signature shades or the earnest, occasionally diamond-studded smile or the fact that he’s handy with a Stratocaster, to put it mildly.

That “Bad Habit” — the half-shy, half-steamy single from the 24-year-old’s second album, Gemini Rights — became the breakout anthem of late summer 2022 seems almost incidental to Lacy’s low-key charm. In its 13th week on the Billboard Hot 100 — four of which it spent at No. 2 — it dethrones Harry Styles’ juggernaut, “As It Was,” to reach the top spot on the chart dated Oct. 8. And in September, “Bad Habit” reached another striking milestone: It became the first song ever to simultaneously top Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot R&B Songs, Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Hot Alternative Songs charts. Lacy is generally unswayed by things like chart metrics and TikTok trends, but the statistic does neatly embody his unorthodox approach to stardom: analytics for an artist who isn’t concerned with analytics.

Since his teenage years, Lacy has been establishing himself as a quiet creative force — the kind of artist that may not be recognized on the street, but who the biggest names in the industry point to as the real deal.

Read Lacy’s full cover story — a conversation with Lenny Kravitz — here.

Billboard Staff