Killy demands your attention on his first full-length project Surrender Your Soul
via NOW Magazine
words by Jordan Sowunmi
In a city suddenly bursting with breakout rappers, one of the buzziest is Killy.
The 20-year-old Toronto musician’s gift for melody, creative cadences and ability to find unique pockets within twinkling, foreboding production has generated interest from hip-hop fans and major labels around the world.
“Imagine if an alien just popped up in your city,” Killy says over the phone from an east-end hangout where he’s enjoying his last few days of relaxation before a seven-city Canadian tour and the release of his debut 11-track project, Surrender Your Soul (out March 6 via Secret Sound Club and streaming below). “People will pay attention.”
Killy seemed to have come out of nowhere in 2017, with his first four singles – Killamonjaro, Distance, No Romance and Forecast – scoring 68 million streams across platforms and gaining him fans around the world.
Killy’s on a roll, and he knows it. His self-assurance is so potent that it borders on cockiness.
“The reason why I garnered so much attention so fast is because people have never seen something this authentic come packaged like this, be marketed like this, look like this, sound like this,” he says.
That confidence might seem hubristic if its vessel wasn’t so sharply presented. His videos complement his music with flashy jump cuts and manic energy, his Instagram posts are succinct and cryptic, with Killy usually draped in Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens.
His latest trap ballad single, the non-album Very Scary, powered by relentless 808s drums and tremulous hi-hats from producers 16yrold and Daxz, is a hallucinatory display of rugged power. If the so-called Toronto Sound is the aural equivalent of dark nights in a harsh winter, Killy’s music is an energy drink at a loft after-party.
“Look at the state of music right now,” he says. “If you look at music as a whole and see who’s poppin’ and what people are listening to, and you compare it to what I’m trying to do, it’s two very different things.”
Killy gets routinely lumped in with other artists who initially found their start and success through SoundCloud, but he’s quick to dismiss similarities.
“If you look at the people they try to put me up next with, yeah, they have braids, they’re wearing Supreme, [we have] rips in our jeans, but when it comes down to it, it’s about music,” he says. “With music, real will recognize real, regardless of any extra thing: internet presence, memes, how you look, how you dress. The music will always be the biggest drive of anything.”
With the hype Killy has been generating, expectations are sky-high for Surrender Your Soul. When asked what fans can expect from it, Killy is, much like his music, terse and enigmatic.
“Nothing. I don’t want them to know anything. I want them to hear the project and [feel whatever they feel about it]. I want it to be the cleanest slate possible.”