Destroy Lonely Doesn't Want to Be Completely Understood

Destroy Lonely Doesn't Want to Be Completely Understood

Story by Jade Gomez / Photography and creative direction by Israel RiquerosMay 15, 2023

For being one of the biggest stars in hip-hop right now, Destroy Lonely has run off course of the standard rap playbook. Despite barely being old enough to drink, he still prefers to cradle a bottle of water on the couch of The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey, a hidden gem of a venue tucked away in suburbia. His doting girlfriend curls up next to him, scrolling on her phone and smirking at his occasional snarky answer. He’s clean, quiet and perceptive, his eyes scanning every inch of the room behind his designer shades. There’s a braggadocio that shines through the calm and calculated swag of many rappers I’ve encountered throughout my life. Lonely is different. Underneath the layers of black Rick Owens garments is just a young man with a plan far ahead of what anyone can conceptualize. He never wants to say too much. He’d rather you see for yourself.

Despite being the son of I-20, known for being one of the first signees of Ludacris’ Disturbing tha Piece label in the early ‘00s, Lonely never wanted to be another example of a rapper with a famous father. Born Bobby Sandimanie III, the 21-year-old rapper has an intense fascination with Michael Jackson’s artistry and power, in awe of his autonomy and influence. He also has a fondness for the seminal electronic duo Crystal Castles, whose ominous and sparse soundscapes seep into Lonely’s sonic tendencies. This contrast in influences isn’t something anyone bats an eye at anymore, with Lone being signed to powerhouse label Opium. Led by Playboi Carti, the label and its artists, which includes Ken Carson and Homixide Gang, bridges the gap between punk and hip-hop, pop and rage rap.

Lonely’s music is arguably the calmest of the roster. Even his monster single “NOSTYLIST,” which took on a life of its own via fashion videos on TikTok, is much more suited for a hazy house party than a mosh pit, his sing-rap washed with a charming layer of auto-tune as he reaches into a higher register. You couldn’t tell that by his shows. Looking out into the sea of fans gripping onto their phones to capture shaky footage of Lone pacing the stage, you’d think he’d pounce like a wolf attacking its prey. Instead, he moves like a wolf finding a place to rest, the chaos unfolding in front of him. Bodies slam to the sounds of deep synths and keyboard loops. If you ask him if there’s a disconnect in the vibe, he is quick to jump to their defense. Music is a physical and emotional thing for him, and he sees the mosh pits and screaming as a release for his fans. While he’s onstage, the gears are turning, reassessing each lyric to see how he connects with it on that given day.

For his latest offering (and his proper debut), If Looks Could Kill is Lonely’s pride and joy. As he explains to PAPER, it’s sparse in the banger department. His throaty delivery finds a home over spacey beats, guitars and synths. It’s not quite a rock record, nor does it feel like a rap album. It’s a culmination of Lone’s life up to this point as he comes off the high of an international tour, viral hits and most importantly, a period of contentment for the young star. He teased his breakout release, NO STYLIST, for two years. It not only proved that the record was real, but that he was capable of producing a cohesive project. It worked. Legions of young men look to Lonely as a style icon. His hits have hundreds of millions cumulative plays. He has emerged as one of the main players in a changing tide of hip-hop as the SoundCloud sound continues to morph into an amalgamation of genres.

Below, read an exclusive conversation with Destroy Lonely about his latest album, If Looks Could Kill.

Let's get "NO STYLIST," your breakout single, out of the way. What has it been like to support it for this past tour and build a new relationship with it?

It's been a dream, honestly. I've always wanted to tour ever since I started making music.

This is your first tour, correct?

This is my first personal tour, yeah. I've been on tour twice before with Ken [Car$on] and [Playboi] Carti. But this is my first time touring for myself as Destroy Lonely. This is something I always wanted to do. That's been my completely favorite part: being able to perform in different states and being on the tour bus. I've been with this album for so long, I don't have that much of a feeling for it in my body no more because I'm already onto my next project.

It's autopilot for you, basically?

Definitely. But the experience of being able to perform and meet all my fans and grow in that sense has been the best thing I've ever experienced.

Going back to this being your first headlining tour, has it been complicated to try and stake your claim as an artist separate from being associated with Opium as a whole or someone as huge as Carti?

A hundred percent. If you ask me, I've always been my own artist, even before I signed to the label. I always wanted this for myself and have been doing this. So to be able to show the world and use my voice in a way of actually promoting and exposing myself rather than a whole conglomerate or a piece of me, it's been very fun and pretty easy because this is all I've ever wanted to do. But I love my label and I do appreciate them a lot.

It is invaluable to have that support system, though. How does the label help you creatively and emotionally?

The top two would be creatively and emotionally because it's very hard to find people you would consider just like yourself in this world. I was able to find two people like that and be able to make music with them. It makes everything a lot easier when it comes to challenges that I haven't been through yet, but they've probably been through, or figuring out different sounds or ways to progress anything that we could do as friends and a family rather than stuff that has no type of value, whether it be numbers or clout or followers. It really feels like a collective effort in us trying to make the world better and our music better and ourselves better as a group.

Was there any specific thing that you were really worried about for your first headlining tour that they prepared you for?

Definitely. If you would've asked me this question or even asked me if I was going on tour two years ago, I'd tell you I'd be scared as fuck. I was opening with one song on Carti's tour and there were only 30 seconds of being on stage, but it was a stadium tour. It was the scariest thing I ever did. And then on Ken's tour, it was venues just like [Wellmont Theater], some were probably a little smaller, but even getting to have a longer set than the one I had on the Carti tour, helped me practice to do this shit. Then there's all of the festivals. So I would say taking me with them on the road and exposing me to this made it a lot easier for me to do it myself. But my biggest personal fear was that I didn't know if my fans knew any of the words, but they know all the words.

Do you remember the moment where you felt that it shifted from, "No one knows who I am," to, "I think some of these people are here for me?"

Facts. On Ken's tour, I experienced a piece of that. It was a 50/50 split. People were there for me, people were there for him. I get to meet some of my fans, but it's still Ken's show. But then when I did my very first date in November of my first leg in Florida, I went out there and then the first song came on and I didn't have to say shit. That shit blew my mind. I didn't have to say nothing for a good 50 seconds of the song. And I was like, Damn, I'm really doing this shit right now. It was probably like 2,500 or 3,000 people, and that shit was just crazy as fuck.

Coming into seeing you live for the first time, I honestly didn't expect you to perform your own songs live. Usually, people use a backing track.

People don't perform their own songs. People don't verbally rap, they just try to turn up the track that's already playing. I'm performing the music. That's just something I always wanted to do as a part of my career because I look up to the rappers like Lil Wayne and Future. Future's show ain't nothing like mine, but like Drake, Travis, even Carti sometimes, he definitely performs a lot of his music, whether it be with his body or his voice. I just want my fans to know that every part of this music is me. I'm rapping every word. I'm dancing or harmonizing every word. It sounds exactly how it sounds on the track.

I want it to be an experience. I don't want it to feel like you were here and just turning up in a club or at a party for an hour, but I want it to feel like you really came to watch whatever album or song you wanted to see physically and emotionally rather than just listening to it. I think of it like a sports game: you could watch basketball on TV all day, but when you see the people actually dunk in real life, you're like, Fuck, this is crazy. So that's how I feel.

That's a really good analogy honestly and I don't even like sports!

Me either!

I love what you said about Carti and these rappers performing not just lyrically, but with their body. Carti in particular is perfect for that and his performances get very intense. How did you craft your stage presence over time?

Even before I was at a point where I was performing on my own stage and performing on the stage at all, I always studied performances. I would watch my favorite rappers perform on YouTube or my favorite rock stars. It's probably going to sound corny for me saying it now just because the world has killed everything that I've touched, but I love how Alice Glass performs. She really psychs out and moves with the music. Or even Sade, Michael Jackson or Chris Brown. I'm not as talented as any of those people, but I want the music to flow through me. I feel like my big brother Carti sometimes might get on the floor, fucking scream, shake, all that shit. He's letting that shit go through him like the fucking Holy Ghost. That's what the music makes me do when I'm performing it. It's not something I'm controlling.

So talk to me about your influences, whether musically or aesthetically. It feels that some of your influences transcend physicality.

At this point in my career, I'm so deep into myself, inspiration is a place for me rather than a person. It's a bunch of different feelings. I don't really look at anything now and be like, Damn, this is making me want to do something. But I take how it makes me feel. I get really inspired now by... James Bond. Then you got the eeriness of places on Earth. If you would think of being on top of Mount Everest or something, it's very cold and lonely up there. Then you got the swags of people, like the Olsen twins or Miley Cyrus. I would call the entire world my inspiration at this point. There's not anything specific. I really love everything. [Points at ceiling] That pipe up there is looking really cool to me.

You bring up the top of Mount Everest. Even though you're part of this larger collective, you really want to craft yourself both inside and outside of that. Part of that is allowing yourself to be alone.

I don't do it on purpose, I know that's the best way for me to work. I can't take a lot of anything — not a lot of people, not a lot of noise, not a lot of lights. When I spend time by myself and I've had to spend time by myself unwillingly for a long time in my life, it is easier for me to process what I need to do for myself to progress to get to where I'm trying to go. I choose to do that now off of the sense that I know anything else is going to completely fucking annoy me or sidetrack me from the goal that I'm trying to get to. I like to stay by myself to get where I need to go.

Do you do anything before a show that will help you get a performing mindset?

Nah, I usually smoke a blunt because I'm nervous as hell right before I step on the stage. There's nothing that can make me un-nervous, so I just go do it. That's my ritual. I get here and I try to get on the stage as soon as possible.

So why do you think you still feel nervous?

Because it's a dream. I could be the biggest artist in the world, but this is something that I've always wanted so it's never going to feel real. I go out there and this is so much pressure. There's so many people looking at me, I can't fuck up. And then I think about how this is actually fucking happening. That makes my brain freeze up.

Compared to the other Opium guys, you're very relaxed when you're onstage.

I feel like my music, if I'm being completely honest, is that fucking lit for me to be doing crazy shit. So I'm not about to be doing that. I got songs where I do it, with "FAKENGGAS," where it's completely necessary. But I have other songs where my purpose is not for you to be here losing your mind. I want you to feel the song and feel what I'm saying while I'm performing. Like when I'm performing "CRYSTLCSTLES," I completely slow all the way down. Or if it switches up to "TURNINUP" where that's an in-between, then I'm dancing, or like "NEVEREVER" where this is actually a lit song so now I want everybody to punch whoever the fuck in the face. I might punch myself! Everything has to be very specific with me. So it's intentional, but it's what the music makes me do out of my control.

I will be honest, I expected lots of white teenage boys at this show and I was so surprised with how diverse it is. Young women especially love you!

It's everybody! At every show, I take my glasses off literally to just look at who's in the crowd. It's really crazy to me how diverse it is. I'm so happy because this is exactly what I want. I want my music to be able to reach everyone. So I look in the crowd or even sometimes when I'm outside in my life, I'll be in Target, and no exaggeration, there's a white man who's probably literally 30 years old and he's like, "Yo, I know you. I love your music." And then I come to the show and there's a little girl who might be 14 and she's Hispanic or some shit and she also loves my music. And you got people that look like me and people that look like you and it's just like, fuck, they all singing the same song. And that's all I want to do with my music: to be able to bring the whole world together and have people feel like we congregate on this one thing. This makes us feel like nothing else matters. It's a beautiful thing.

Let's talk about your album process. You released two in 2022 and have If Looks Could Kill in 2023. How does that process work to create this music and push it out instead of waiting for the standard album cycles to pass?

It goes off my clock and my calendar of however I'm feeling for the year or however I'm feeling in whatever space I'm in during my life. So with NO STYLIST, I always tell people even within the two years from when I verbally said I was going to release the album, I'd been working on it for years longer than that. The reason why I couldn't drop it when I thought I would is reasons that have nothing to do with me or anything to do with Opium. It was situational. I didn't necessarily want that to be the case. I let it work in my favor. But with If Looks Could Kill, it's like this album is coming out ASAP. NO STYLIST was behind me. Most of the songs that I made on that album are as old as from when I first said I was going to make it. And they're probably from where I was at when I was 18 or 19.

Whereas, If Looks Could Kill, I made this album within the past six months. This is my debut album, and this is how I'm going to be able to actually speak for myself from where I'm at so people can see my perspective on the world and not a older perspective that I had or a perspective that I didn't get to play with as much as I wanted to because I needed people to know that I can make music. Now I'm at a point where I'm comfortable with exactly how it sounds. I got to do everything I wanted to do and now I just want to put it out. Everything after this is going to be the same way. However long it takes me to feel this comfortable is however long it takes.

You keep bringing up how removed you are from NO STYLIST and the songs on it because of how old they are. What is it like to perform those songs without that attachment?

I don't have any regrets or negative feelings towards that. One thing I do love about myself is that I'm always honest and I’m wearing myself on my sleeve through my music. When I'm performing the songs on stage, I might hear myself say a lyric that still happened to me last night or something. This is very much timeless. It is me, but sound-wise with certain beats or certain rhythms or certain flows or even how my voice sounds, I want people to know who I am right now in 2023 rather than who I was when I was still figuring things out about myself.

What has happened within the past six months that has allowed you to feel confident to release this music and feel like this is the representation you want for your proper debut?

I'm at a point where everything aligns with how I feel right now talking to you. From how I want the beats to sound to how I want my voice to sound to the experiences I had making this album to everything, it's completely new and right now. A lot of people are going to feel the same way because of how it feels, not by trends or anything.

Let's talk about the stigma that comes with rappers from the same scenes as you, especially now that your music takes on another life through TikTok. I can tell there's a lot you want to discuss that you don't feel like you're able to talk about. Do you think those parts of you are lost because of this environment you're in with streaming culture and the industry as a whole?

It's not lost for me. I don't even feel like it's lost in the world. It takes someone like myself who wants to make music for people who are creative and people who are listening to it. I don't think there's any type of substance or feeling in so much music now. I feel like it's just to get lit. Even with If Looks Could Kill, I have maybe two or three songs that even feel turnt up. It's very much me going deep inside myself and talking exactly about how I feel and how I'm living. The beats aren't even that fast. It's going to be a totally different album and it's going to be calmer to show people music that exists off a feeling and not trying to get this hit or make this money or this is just for n****s to turn up to still exist. I want to be the person to at least help show people that.

Earlier, you said NO STYLIST was to prove you can make music. Did you feel like some people just saw you as that guy who opened up for Carti for 30 seconds?

A hundred percent. I felt like there was a lot of people in the world who were looking at me like that. Even before I dropped my album, a lot of the songs that existed next to my name were songs that, like some of the songs on NO STYLIST, I made when I was 17. One of my biggest songs, "Bane," I made when I was 17 and people equate that to my talent. I'm 21 years old now. You don't even know what I've been through or what I've grown through to make music now because you haven't heard it or I haven't been able to put it out.

But imagine what a person can do in five years and then try to not equate what he did five years ago to what he can do now. That's how I felt about NO STYLIST. I wanted to show people I'm not here for a TikTok song. I'm not here to do anything less than actually make good music. Whether it be good music that I'm making right now or in the past, y'all n****s got to know that I'm not playing.

You're echoing a similar sentiment I hear from a lot of young rappers I speak to. What do you think it is about this current climate that makes people think you have one song, that's all they know you for and that's all they care about.

It's a big problem with social media. It makes shit such a moment. Right now, people feel like it has to be the next thing or they're not entertained anymore. And I completely want to stray away from all of that shit, even though sometimes it's out of my control. That is the biggest problem with music right now. The fans feel too entitled. They feel like they have such a connection with the artist through being able to leave comments or like your posts.

It's a parasocial thing.

When Michael Jackson was making music, there was no snippets or there was no telling him to drop a song or say it'd be cool if Michael Jackson collabed with fucking whoever else was making music. Nobody gave a fuck! They was waiting on him to drop the music. Secondly, I think you had people around 2016 and 2017 where there was music being made for the internet that completely demolished everything afterwards.

And longer songs get reduced to short, disembodied clips. No one has an incentive to seek music past a snippet anymore.

It's horrible. Yeah, it's the worst thing probably to ever happen in music. Earlier, I posted that I was going to drop my album and someone commented, "No one wants this TikTok album, we're going to listen to something else." And like, I don't even have the app on my phone! It confuses me. It bothers me.

So you read the comments?

I do read the comments. I see every single comment and it bothers me. My girl is trying to get me to be off my phone, but I definitely check out everything because I care about my fans. I want to know what they saying.

How do you keep that healthy boundary between you and fans to maintain your personal life?

I live like how the artists that I love did it. I don't care what time it is, I don't care that it's 2023 and everything's on the phone. If you are going to see me, you're going to see me in real life. You got to see me at a show, you got to catch me outside in like fucking Target, and then that's how we can actually interact or that's when I'm actually going to maybe listen to what you're saying. I can't do the social media shit. I feel like I'm always stepping on thin ice. I don't want to do anything wrong.

It's out of your control. You have a small country of people following your Instagram!

I use it when it's necessary and I only use it for my business and I don't follow anybody on anything because I don't want to see what anybody's doing to cloud my brain. I listen and I reach in to see people's opinions. But at the end of the day, I'm still going to do whatever the fuck I want, whether they like it or not. I do live a life in the real world that is not dictated by the internet and I'm going to make money whether this n***a likes this song or this n***a doesn't. I use it as a measurement to know if I did something right or I know I did something wrong. But it's nothing more or less than that.

I'm guessing you've had the nepo baby allegations placed on you because your father is I-20, who I'm a fan of.

Fuck, bro. People say that shit about me all the fucking time! I'm glad you're asking the questions that get me. I can say shit that I can't fucking tweet about, like shit that bothers me all day.

That's why I'm here, dude.

I didn't even know what the fuck that was until somebody said it about me! But people have this imagination that my father was actually super fucking wealthy. But no, that wasn't the case. And I don't mean to down him, but I've never even lived with him. For me to be a nepotism child is actually impossible because my father did not help me with my music. My father was not a part of my music career and still isn't. I have never lived with him. He didn't encourage me to make music. He didn't even know about this shit until last fucking year.

Have you had people try to cast you in his shadow?

It's not possible because we're two different types of artists, and his era was way before mine and I'm doing something completely different. So the most people can say is, "This is your dad." This is no disrespect to my dad at all. I really love his music and he's my father, so I love him to death. But I'm not one of those people. My dad was a person for himself, which is cool, but that played no part in my career. It doesn't bother me or anything because if you ask me, I'm cooler than my dad.

What was your childhood like?

I was living with my grandparents and my mother, and my mom didn't have a lot of shit and my grandparents were okay. I lived a life where I got to see a bunch of different sides of things. I spent a lot of time alone and I spent a lot of time studying a whole bunch of different things, which led me to the point where I'm like, if I can do anything, I could probably make music. I started doing that when I was 14 years old and I've been doing it ever since. When I was younger, my life wasn't too hard, it wasn't too bad. I made a lot of decisions for myself, whether it be being in the streets and trying to get money, because I was trying to speed this shit up. I was speed running through life like a video game. My life wasn't fucking sweet and it wasn't normal, but I can't say I fucking hated it.

You talk about speed running through life and you're already pretty young. Do you feel like you grew up too fast? Do you feel like there are essential parts of being a child that you wish you got to experience?

I hated being a kid because my brand was always here. I knew that I had to be a certain age for things or I had to experience certain things in my life, but I knew there was a place that I wanted to be and I couldn't be there unless I experienced a bunch of stuff. I was looking forward to trying to get to this place or the next place. I went through experiences through my childhood to know exactly what I needed to do now. I didn't give a fuck about being a kid though. It was about the future for me.

I also recall that you are an only child who was raised by their grandparents, just like me! Being an only child prepares you for being lonely, and it teaches you that it's not a bad thing and we have to learn how to be okay with that.

Definitely. And it's the greatest skill you could learn without even knowing it, having no other option than to be comfortable with yourself. It's really cool. But I feel like there's two benefits to being the only child and living with your grandparents that I experienced. You get the wisdom of knowing yourself and knowing how to carry yourself, and knowing what's right and wrong for you. You get the wisdom of people that are 30, 40 years older than you that know a lot more than you would, and it puts you in a different position and mindset of thinking and strategizing your way through fucking life. It's really two blessings in disguise.

Somebody threw a bra at you during tonight's show. Does that happen a lot?

That's my first time actually having anybody's undergarments thrown on my stage. There's definitely always girls screaming and dudes doing weird shit sometimes. But that was the first time. And honestly, no disrespect to [my girlfriend], but it's pretty cool. I hope it happens again.

Being at this point in your life, I'm pretty sure a lot of people think you should be doing something different. There should be a line of 50 groupies at the door and all that. When you see the rap playbook, it's not at all what you are doing right now.

Well that's because my goal in life isn't to be a rapper, I want to be a billionaire. So I strategize what I do in the sense of what's going to make me the most money and keep me the most mentally forward, and what's going to get me to my goal of having a billion dollars. And that's not having fucking random women in my face every night. I'm very focused within myself and where I'm trying to go. I've always only liked having one girl, or maybe two if I don't like them that much. [Laughs]

What does being famous mean to you? When you think about that word, not even necessarily in the context of yourself, what does it mean?

Being famous would be not to just be known, but to be known for doing something very well. There's a lot of people who misuse the word "famous." They think it's a lot of people knowing you, whether it be having a lot of followers or having a lot of fans or getting a lot of plays on a song or something. But I feel like a really famous person is somebody who, when you look at them or hear their name, there's a thousand other things that pop up with it. When you hear the name Drake, you think of how he now he has braids or Lil Wayne and YMCMG and all this shit. That's fame.

So I guess for you, you want to be famous?

I don't want to be famous. I want to inspire and I want to be rich as hell. I don't give a fuck if I'm famous or not, honestly.

Interesting. So even by your definition you don't or you do?

By my definition, I guess I would because my biggest goal is to inspire the whole world. But if you have to ask me if I want to be famous? Hell no. I just want to be rich.

Do people recognize you a lot when you go out?

Yeah, man, this shit is crazy, bro. I can go to the McDonald's drive-thru and the kid working there who's handing me my bag of food would be like, "Yo, I'm playing your song right now." That is really crazy. Or I can go to Target, I'm trying to get some fucking underwear, and everybody that works in there fucking knows me. I went to Whole Foods today, a random Whole Foods I've never been to Montclair, New Jersey, trying to get a tuna sandwich for my girl and the dude behind the counter is like, "Yo, Lonely." And I'm like, "What the fuck?" I have this weird type of fan base and I guess fame where people think they know me so they don't ever associate or speak to me like "Oh my God, it's Destroy Lonely." They're like, "Yo, what up Lone? How you been?" I'm like, "Yo, I don't even fucking know you." It is actually terrifying, but it's also the funniest in the world and I actually love it.

I lied. I love being famous and I want to be famous for sure.

That must be amazing though. What do you think it is about yourself that allows these people to approach you in that different way?

I'm just happy to be here and I love playing with people. Honestly, I'm a fucking troll.

You're a troll?

I don't know, it's so funny to me. Sometimes people might not know it's me, so they'll be like, "Are you Destroy Lonely?" And I'm like, "Hell nah." Or they'll be like, "Yo, that's Lone," I'm like, "No, it's not. It's a fucking fake." But I don't know, it's really fun playing with people. I enjoy it. And I feel like my fans know that regardless of what my image is or what I look like, I'm still a human being and I like joking, so they always play with me and shit. It's really cool.

You said you want to become a billionaire, live your best life, all that stuff. What do you think is the ultimate goal for you as a musician, whether as Destroy Lonely or whatever iteration you decide to take on later on in life?

I'm glad you worded it like that because this is definitely a time for me. I don't think I'm ever going to fall out, but I don't want to be rapping when I'm fucking 40. When I'm done with this era of my life, I want people to talk about my music and whatever I contributed to rap or music itself as a whole until the end of time. While Michael Jackson's been dead for going on 10 years now, and I don't mean to keep talking about him, but they still play his songs on the radio. If the whole world was to blow up right now, that song would still be playing on whoever's radio is left on Earth. I want my music to be the same way. That's it.

Like a cockroach. Nothing could stop it.

Nothing could stop it ever. And there's always going to be somebody when it's fucking 3023, that's like, "Yo, this n***a right here is crazy. I want to be just like him." And now that n***a's making music.

Are there any parts of yourself that you still feel need to be cleared up?

A hundred percent. With this conversation, I feel like it's going to clear up a bunch of things. And my next album, If Looks Could Kill, is going to make things even clearer. But that's my whole goal. I never want to be completely understood. I want to be able to keep giving pieces of me as I go rather than laying it all out. And then eventually I want y'all to know everything about this part of me and then the shit's going to be over and I'm going to go do something else. I want to be able to have a time where I can explain myself throughout my music until I'm done making music because if I can't, then what's life? There's no more me.

Throughout May, PAPER will roll out our final projects under the most recent editorial team. These pieces continue pushing forward our mission to provide a platform for fresh talent and important stories too often overlooked. From the subjects to the creatives behind the images, our hope is for you to discover new things and be inspired by what you see. As always, thank you for showing up and being part of our community. –Justin Moran, Editor-in-Chief

Photography and creative direction: Israel Riqueros
CGI: Hayden Clay Williams
Market editor: Alex Sturla
Gaffer: Peter Steininger
Grooming: Amanda Wilson
Photo assistants: Violette Trotter and Matt Street
PAs: Em Sieler and Sydney Sullivan

Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
Editorial producer: Alyson Cox