17 March 2023

Destroy Lonely is in a league of his own: “I don’t look at numbers because I know I’m not in competition with anybody”

HUNGER sits down with the Atlanta native for his first interview in the UK following the release of his latest single, ‘if looks could kill.’

“How’s the IV going?” isn’t exactly the first question you’d expect to ask during an interview with one of rap’s most exciting talents. But it was the only suitable one as Destroy Lonely sat across from me receiving an IV drip right before his sold-out show at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town. “I hate needles. They fucking scare me,” he says candidly. But health comes first, right? Even if you’re a rockstar.

The Atlanta native just recently kicked off the European leg of his No Stylist tour in support of his album of the same name. His rise has been meteoric over the last few years; following a slew of underground hits, Lonely signed to fellow rapper Playboi Carti’s label, Opium, in 2021. His rockstar aesthetic, genre fluidity and mysterious aura made him a perfect fit for the label, and his stature in the music world quickly began to increase. Much like his label mate Ken Carson, Lonely’s cult-like fanbase has resulted in him rising from underground obscurity to festival main stage mainstay. Lonely’s passion for music was always inevitable; his father is I-20 – a rapper well known for his 2001 hit ‘Move Bitch’ with Ludacris – and was a prominent figure in the Atlanta hip-hop scene. And now he’s following in his father’s footsteps, albeit down his very own distinct path. It’s not just in the world of music he’s gaining notoriety; he’s regarded by his fans as a style icon and regularly rubs shoulders with fashion’s elite, most notably Matthew Williams of Alyx and Givenchy.

2023 is set to be Lonely’s biggest year yet, his next album, if looks could kill, is slated to drop, and his numbers are only rising by the day. The title track to that project was released on March 3rd and has since racked up over seven million streams on Spotify alone. With a gothic guitar sample, slick flow and expressive vocals, it’s a track that fully embraces his “fashion demon” aesthetic as he namedrops Chrome Hearts, Balenciaga and Chanel. Here, HUNGER sits down with the star for his first UK interview to discuss his love of touring, manifesting riches and what to expect from his next project.

How are you finding London so far?

It’s amazing. It is actually one of my favourite cities that I’ve been to. I’ve never been here before, but I’m enjoying it. 

Have you had the chance to take it all in yet?

Yeah, I spent a lot of time in Selfridges yesterday, and I’ve been all around. It’s just a good feeling out here; I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s just really cool.

A lot of American artists always say it’s similar to New York. Do you feel that way?

Yeah, everybody always says it’s similar to New York. I don’t feel that way, though. I would only say it’s similar in the sense that it’s a big city, and y’all are speaking English. I feel like London has its own vibe, for sure.

Are there any UK artist’s you really rock with right now?

I like Skepta. He’s one of the main guys, for sure.

How’s the tour been going so far?

It’s been great, I went fucking crazy in Brussels, and now I gotta get an IV [laughs].

There was a clip that went viral at that Brussels show of a kid who looked super young stage diving; what was the story there?

So throughout the whole show, they [the crowd] were throwing him up in the air, and they were all loving him. So at some point, I told them all to get him to the front, and my security guard pulled him up and asked if he wanted to jump, and he was like, “hell yeah.” He was crazy.

Do you enjoy the lifestyle on tour, or are you someone who gets homesick?

Nah, most of the time, I don’t ever really wanna go home. I love it out here.

What’s on your rider?

Apple juice, fruit, water and candy. Oh, and I need my grabba leaf so I can roll my weed.

What’s been the best moment of the tour for you so far?

Honestly, out here on the European leg, the whole tour has been the best moment. Just being on a whole other side of the earth and seeing people who don’t speak English or do speak English but just in a whole other country knowing the words and my name, that shit is crazy to me.

For anyone who’s never been to a Destroy Lonely show, how would you describe it?

It’s an experience. It’s more than a show. I feel like everybody’s involved, from me to my DJ to the kids, my fucking production team – it’s a communal experience. It’s more of a party rather than everybody just looking at me, watching me perform.

And you obviously take the performance aspect very seriously.

Yeah, I was telling somebody earlier I feel like if rapping is just what I do to make money, then performing is like my sport. I always gotta be ready to hit the court and put on a show.

So going onto the music, you recently released ‘if looks could kill,’ which is doing crazy numbers. Are you big on watching the numbers, or is it just onto the next track?

 I drop it, and I’m onto the next. Even though that song is a piece of my album, I don’t really care all that much about numbers. I know my fans love my music, and that’s all that matters. I don’t look at numbers because I know I’m not in competition with anybody. 

Is if looks could kill still the title of your next project, and what can we expect from it?

Yeah, that song is the title track to the album. And you can expect the fullest version of me that I’ve shared with the world. I’m just making the music that I want to make. I’m using the beats and sounds I want to use. No Stylist was some shit I dropped to show people I could make great music because they were judging me off of some of my older songs. if looks could kill is my project, it’s not for y’all. It’s for me and for y’all to see me.

I saw in a previous interview that you said you were big into manifestation. What are you manifesting right now?

A billion dollars and my friends and family to be happy and rich. 

You’ve said that whatever outfit you’re rocking describes how you’re feeling for the day. What’s your outfit saying about your mood today?

That I’m ready to fuck some shit up. My outfit’s fucked up, but it came this way. So that’s how I’m coming for the show; I’m ready to fuck shit up.

What’s in your playlist right now that nobody would expect to be there?

I was in the car the other day, and this dude was playing Diplo’s radio station on Sirius XM, and there was this song called ‘Rave The Planet’ [by A*S*Y*S and Kai Tracid], and this shit is sick. 

What advice would you give to an artist who’s coming up right now trying to make it?

Don’t stop. Everybody says that, but me being able to attest that to myself, I would literally tell them don’t stop. Don’t be scared to be yourself. 

Is that how you think you’ve found so much success, just staying authentic?

100%. Every day I learn more about myself, and I try to be, perfect isn’t the best word, but I try to be the best version of myself every day. I know myself, and I know I can succeed.

What’s the goal for Destroy Lonely?

My main goal in music is just to inspire others. Like inspiring people where I was at when I was younger, and I didn’t know if this was possible. Whatever comes with that, like platinum songs and getting rich, is cool, but I just want to inspire people.

  • Writer Chris Saunders Image credits

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