The Internet is both strange and a wonderful place.
Just ask Tunji Balogun. While he was cutting his chops as one-half of the group Inverse, Tunji was also making moves within the music industry, beginning as an intern at Warner Bros. Records before moving onto Interscope Records and eventually RCA Records. Since then, he’s discovered, developed and guided several artists to varying degrees of critical and commercial acclaim. You may have even heard of some of them: Bryson Tiller, SZA, Khalid, Wizkid, Goldlink and H.E.R.
Tunji’s work was eventually rewarded with both a promotion (he is currently EVP of A&R at RCA) and an imprint to call his own, Keep Cool.
This is where Lucky Daye comes in. The New Orleans-bred talent signed to the label (alongside VanJess, Normani and Freddie Gibbs and Madlib), and has seen his profile rise thanks to his excellent projects I and II. With a third on the way, and a busy tour schedule, Lucky sat down with the DopeHouse to talk III, love and all of its intricate nonsense, and more.
How’s life on the road been treating you?
Montreal was lit. The highlights, I literally just try to practice the show and we eat, we ate some lobster yesterday, it was crazy. The food is everything. Other than that, we just on the bus making songs trying to make the show better.
You spent time in New Orleans, Texas, Atlanta and now Los Angeles. How would you credit each of those cities and their different environments to the music you make now?
I would credit New Orleans for giving me a variety of soul, jazz, funk, R&B and even pop– everything. Then I would credit committing to something to Texas because it was scary leaving by myself. Atlanta I would credit the hustle. Atlanta was the painful part, Atlanta was the “Damn, everybody tryna get me, everybody tryna get what they can out of it and I’m not getting nothing.” I had to learn how to not do too much for everybody. If I don’t exist, the people that be hitting me talking about “Give me some attention,” wouldn’t be hitting me. LA probably made me “do or die” type vibe. It was just like, “Alright I’m out here for real now, with the sharks. I beat the A and made it out of there, I came out to LA.” I flipped everything upside-down. I guess everything that had happened to me up to until Atlanta was a mistake or stepping-stone, whatever you want to call it, and then LA was just like “Yeah, it’s time. Make a decision.” Plus I found D-Mile out there.
Going more in-depth on Atlanta specifically, you mentioned how it was a stepping-stone to LA. How did that mold you into the solidified artist that you are now?
That was the first time I was homeless by myself. It made me see how crazy people can be, how selfish they can be, it was just bad. There are so many stories in the A that I could tell you, it’s incredible, you don’t want to know. It was tough, it was very, very tough. I’ll break it down one day.
Talking I and II, what would you say your muse or point of inspiration was for both?
This girl [*laughs*]. It’s literally a compilation of feelings that I got from girls to everything that I was taught. I kind of forgot everything, I forgot the format – you know how you use your right hand if you’re right-handed? I started using my left hand to do my right-handed things. So it flipped everything backward to give me a different perspective. I don’t know man, I’m deep man, “Roll Some Mo” haha.
Love is the theme on all the songs on both I and II, what did you hope that your listeners would gain from your experiences with it?
Well, I was hoping that they didn’t think I was crazy, cause I figured “I been through enough like something should happen, is something wrong with me? Let me write these feelings down at least from the beginning to the end,” and that’s what came out. It was just that, the music and it’s like “Alright, now if I put it out there, they either gonna think I’m crazy or they’re gonna really feel what I’m feeling.” That was really the inspiration, it was literally love and pain.
It seems like you’re leading listeners on a journey, with II kind of picking up where I left off, where should we expect to wind up in the end?
Haha, you would like to know! Well, I have another EP coming, it’s gonna end exactly where it started for me – the pain. I’m pouring myself on the next one and this is the part where I’m not thinking too much about the funk or the genre or the sound and all that. I’m thinking more about this is the part where they either gonna say “I’m f***ed up,” or they gonna like it.
What was your thought process in having 3 EPs leading into an album?
I figured by music was too different. I guess it’s insecurity, I felt like it’d be too much, people would be like I’m Robert Glasper, and I love Robert Glasper, but I’m tryna get the masses. In order to get the masses, I got to Apple phone this sh*t, make it easily digestible. I just wanted to make it easy, so it’s easier to take it in doses.
You mentioned earlier and many times before, you speak very highly of your producer D-Mile. How do you think he’s helped you improve as an artist and bring your sound to greater heights?
Best producer in the world. D physically is what I am inside. On his outside, he’s really innocent – on the outside, I’m like “You can’t break in,” if you break in, I’m soft but if you don’t I’m a crustacean or something. On the outside he’s just really open, soft, free, he just does whatever. He does everything he can for other people and I’ll sell myself for him. I’m still finding out sh*t, like he was finna quit before he did the EP that we were doing. We have very similar ways and he the only producer that called me and gave me ideas, nobody else did cause in LA, everybody tryna get their buck. He was just like, “I love what you brought me, I’m bout to help you make it beautiful,” and he’s the greatest producer in the world cause he can do anything!
If you had to pick two songs from the two EPs, what would they be and what meaning do they hold to you?
One I would say is “Karma” because, first of all, it has a lot of familiarity for people but, for myself, this song was dedicated to a friend of mine who committed suicide. People think it’s like “Oh it’s karma, she keeps coming around,” but it’s like she left me like literally, left me on Earth. That’s the first one, for the second one, “Real Games.” It’s my sh*t.
Who are some artists that you want to work with in the future?
Well, I want to work with OG’s like Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, I got a chance to talk to Quincy Jones, but I don’t know if he’ll just make a song with me, like meet him in the club and this n***a just gonna be like “Here, made a song for you.” I would work with Travis Scott, I really like rockstar sh*t, so anything that’s on some rockstar sh*t. Singing R&B is great, but when you bring rock to it, like I wanna crowd surf, I almost did it tonight – to a slow jam – that’s my thing, you ain’t never crowd surf on a slow jam, I was gonna crowd surf on “Concentrate.” But yeah, Kendrick, SZA, who else we got? I like Kodak a lot, Migos – if I had to choose one of the Migos, Offset. I like everything. H.E.R, definitely would work with H.E.R. Me and Ella [Mai] been working a lot, we actually got some stuff, got some surprises.
Intro by Meka. Interview by Wongo.