by Mike Scarfo
“I’m usually really shy, and I haven’t performed much before this, so having all 150 of you staring at me is definitely nerve-wracking”. As I look back, it’s hard to believe that March 2022 version of l.ucas is the same l.ucas now, nearly eight months later. And maybe that’s because in a lot of ways, they are in fact worlds apart. There’s the classic Jim Butcher saying “a lot can change in a year”, but for the multi-talented artist, producer, and engineer, so much of who he is as a musician has completely transformed in less than a year. And I’m not just talking about trading in his luscious locks for a cleaner, more tamed buzzcut, either.
I first heard of the Leominster-native in early 2020 just before the start of the pandemic; he introduced himself to me in a DM on Instagram, and then proceeded to send me a song he had featured on and helped mix called “No Cap”, with now fellow Junto Music Club labelmate, Jiida. Besides the obvious dynamic vocal performance from Jiida, I was immediately captivated by the production: its smooth blends of atmospheric lo-fi and dancehall music entranced me with sonic depth I hadn’t discerned in some time. And before I knew it, the song was over, forcing me to hit repeat for a second listen.
Fast forward to March 2022, and I met l.ucas in person for the first time at his nearly sold out show at The Rockwell in Somerville, MA. It was marketed as a concert featuring “l.ucas, Timi O, & friends”: a showcase of local talent with the likes of PS Jovi, Uche Malik, Layzi, and Faybee. The music throughout the night was incredible, the structure of the show unique in more ways than one. But what I ultimately took away from the experience was the connectivity, transparency, and love the artists shared with the crowd, and especially with each other. That’s why l.ucas’s confirmation of nerves and shyness has stuck with me as long as it has. However, when you frame the context of his musical journey thus far, it makes a lot of sense: a producer and engineer trying his hand at artistry who, at the time, was just figuring out how to mold his own sound instead of for others.
While 2022 has been a year of growth as an artist, l.ucas is still embedded in creating a diverse variety of soundscapes for over a dozen artists spanning many genres, such as afrobeat, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. He’s impacted these many artists as a producer, engineer, and writer; notably the most recent project by the aforementioned Boston Afro-Artist Uche Malik NWA OWERRI, executively produced, and mixed by l.ucas himself. It’s a project rooted in traditional afrobeat sounds but with a creative modern spin of soul, R&B, and pop; no better of an example of this being the hit single “Rizza!” which is one of my favorite singles of the year in the Massachusetts scene.
But l.ucas’s focus has certainly shifted to releasing more of his own solo music in 2022, particularly dropping four singles through the beginning of November: the melancholy, atmospheric “No Better”, the upbeat, highly relatable “Bad Place”, the piano-driven ballad “isolate”, and the seductive, tantalizing “FSW”. This crop of songs shows a clear versatility in l.ucas not only from a sonic perspective, but topically as well. So much so, it has earned him a coveted nomination for R&B Artist of the Year at the upcoming Boston Music Awards in December: “Being nominated for a Boston Music Award is incredibly humbling; it makes me want to get even more people to know my name, and to root for me as an artist”. Despite the achievement, it hasn’t strayed l.ucas’s focus from his vision, showing a determination that goes beyond any award or recognition that would land at his feet.
He’s closing the year out on a high note with the release of three more strong singles: “ringtone” featuring Layzi, and “One More Night” and “2 Shots”, both with Jiida (who co-wrote, co-produced, and co-mixed each of them). “ringtone” begins with gorgeous vocals from the multi-talented Layzi (who also co-wrote and co-produced the track), crooning lyrics of a lost love who’s still yearning for their former lover’s name to pop up in her phone, but ultimately never comes to fruition. l.ucas adds an impressive and catchy vocal performance, which eventually blends fruitfully with Layzi’s cadence in the back half of the track. It’s a bright and glitzy electronic pop song which heavily contrasts the density of its lyricism, the dread of finally accepting loss and beginning to pick up the proverbial pieces of heartbreak.
The guitar-led jam of “One More Night” with Jiida feels like a continuation of “ringtone”: it’s a song rooted in sexual desire, addressing a relationship that doesn’t appear to have much more depth past the physical connection that is shared. In essence, the relationship is hopeless, and any semblance of desperation to make it last will inevitably be futile. Jiida effectively portrays this narrative of someone who cannot accept this revelation.
“2 Shots'' is exactly what it sounds like: Jiida and l.ucas’s portrayal of this character spinning out of control and drowning in despair, finding any comfort in the bottom of a bottle: the alcohol being used as a metaphor for being in love, while drinking is equated to spending time with this loved one. The opening bridge’s distorted vocals symbolize inebriation perfectly, while the first verse provides a layer of subconscious truth and reality. It provides levity paired with “One More Night”, a song based in a dejected relationship focused solely on sex. l.ucas possesses a rare ability to write sequential songs that capture layers of introspective lyrical depth on an otherwise generic topic, all while providing immersive soundscapes. It’s a stimulating experience and certainly worth dissecting every aspect of each song’s meticulous detail.
This feels like one of the most natural, yet drastic periods of growth I’ve seen in a local artist in my four years of time covering Massachusetts music. In just a year, l.ucas has released seven immaculate singles, all of which stand alone strongly on their own, but also paint a ruminative picture. He’s also headlined and sold out a local show, while also performing at multiple other events (i.e. a show at Exit Gallery with Timi O, Rilla Force, and Malik Elijah, along with an upcoming show with Notebook P on November 25th). He’s seen a spike in his Spotify streaming numbers (currently at 20,000 monthly listeners), been nominated for a Boston Music Award, and has established himself as a premier engineer and collaborator in the area. He even has an exclusive iZotope sponsored remix contest going for the 100,000+ streamed “isolate” through the end of November, open to all producers. But the development won’t stop here, as he still feels like he has more growing to do: “My goals for 2023 are to present my greatest body of work yet (my debut album) that I’ve been working on, along with a whole lot of visuals. It’s really taught me to be persistent, consistent, and to not fear the idea of going back to the drawing board”.
Above all, he wants everyone to know his success is nothing without those around him who’ve helped him get to this point. “I can’t wait to continue to show the world how great my team (Deric Wagner, Timi O, Jiida, & Rilla Force) is. JMC for life”.