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Destroy Lonely’s ‘If Looks Could Kill’ is a beacon of triumphant darkness

Destroy Lonely’s debut studio album IF LOOKS COULD KILL was perhaps the most anticipated project of the year — and TopFloorBoss didn’t disappoint.

Sharing a whopping 26 tracks and a sole feature from Opium labelmate Ken Carson (“money & sex”) — an appetizer ahead of their joint album — ILCK reasserts Lonely’s emergence as a one-of-one cultural phenomenon. Becoming the highest charting project of his career, debuting at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 with 28,000 first-week units sold, its rollout was subtle, yet ended with a bang on Friday (May 5).

The rapper teaser the record with blood red ‘if looks could kill!’ inscriptions all over the country, adding to the mystique of his “fashion demon” and “look killa” alter ego. Sharing a riveting short film entitled “Look Killa”, ILCK evidently proves to be a slasher flick with no escape. As “Lone,” the mask-clad monster (which is available for purchase on his website) kills those close to him with just a look, as the rapper is thinking well past his music — building out an entire universe that envelopes it. Artists like The Weeknd have thrived extending worlds beyond their art, as Lone knows that he can/will achieve this too. His role as “Look Killa” is just the first step, with ILCK being the soundtrack to the short film in its most intense moments.

Amid the album’s release on Friday (May 5), Lonely spoke with Complex, not only giving greater context to IF LOOKS COULD KILL, but alluded to his future outside of rap. “I’m finna drop a bunch of music for y’all folks, then get the f**k up out of here,” he said. “Go onto something else, get some more money.” This horror world evolves in the new visual for “IF LOOKS COULD KILL,” directed by JMP.

Lone’s grunge rock influences are more prevalent than ever on IF LOOKS COULD KILL, cascading into more distorted pockets of his sound that feels like you’re hearing it from down the hall. However, its edginess isn’t rough around the edges, it’s polished to the point of no return — sounding grander and more cinematic than anything he’s released up until this point.

Tracks like “wagwan,” “goin up,” “biggest problem,” “brazy girls,” “safety (interlude),” “moment of silence” and “chris paul” all illustrate the breadth of Lone’s superstar track presence over dark, devious and dramatic production choices, courtesy of close collaborators Clayco, Cxdy, 2C, ssort and more. The attention to detail and intent behind IF LOOKS COULD KILL is not only impressive, but a model of prosperity for the new wave leader.

The 21-year-old “superstar” has always gone against the grain, using Tumblr to preview numerous tracks and snippets ahead of the record. He initially alluded to IF LOOKS COULD KILL and his forthcoming collab LP with Ken Carson on the Bootleg Kev Podcast. Lone later shared the title track to his upcoming project “if looks could kill” on March 3 to the surprise of fans, performing the long-teased single during his enigmatic Rolling Loud performance.

The rapper quickly doubled down on project confirmations with Gabe P on On The Radar Radio and at Rolling Loud Thailand, speaking on the moment IF LOOKS COULD KILL will garner for him. “I feel like [ILCK] going to be a better version of myself — elevated from what I showed y’all on ‘NO STYLIST,’” he said. “Then, I got this project with Ken we getting together to put out for y’all.”

“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… if looks could kill is my project, it’s not for y’all. It’s for me and for y’all to see me.”

Destroy Lonely on ‘ILCK’ via HungerTV

Prior to ILCK, he and prolific director JMP teamed up for a stark, winter-themed double visual for “NEVEREVER / FAKENGGAS” on Feb. 20. Both tracks appear on Destroy Lonely’s debut album No Stylist and its deluxe NS+ ULTRAwhich the Atlanta native toured at the start of November 2022. The pair linked back up for the visual to the album’s title track two weeks after its release.

Cruising through glistening snow banks in “NEVEREVER,” “FAKENGGAS” contrasts the open-air feel of the video’s preceding scenes. Lonely stands axe-clad in the Tahoe forest’s evergreens with blood trailing toward his feet. The only light is a shaky flashlight used to find Lone alone in darkness, which is signature Opium for fans of their dark aesthetic. This was the first step towards IF LOOKS COULD KILL, evident in the album’s short film.

Simply put, Lonely’s star power is now more undeniable than ever on IF LOOKS COULD KILL.

Check out “IF LOOKS COULD KILL” below!

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