5 Things You Don't Know About The Kid LAROI

It's no understatement to say that The Kid LAROI has taken the hip-hop world by force, and he's done it in about a year-and-a-half with nothing more than 1.5 albums: "F*** Love," and its 7-track extension, "F** Love: Savage," both released in 2020. With lyrics that are as gloomy as often as they are dire, and a familiar emo-trap sound that more than evokes his mentor, Juice WRLD, LAROI's career has taken off. He's garnered producers such as Khaled Rohaim, Haan, FnZ, and Keanu Beats (per Off the Clef Hip-Hop), was initially contacted through a DM by G Money on social media following the circulation of his mixtapes, and was signed to Columbia Records in 2019 (per Billboard). It's important to note that LAROI is currently 17 years old; his mother had to do his contract negotiation over several months and "hours and hours of FaceTime and phone calls." As ABC tells us, he's already surpassed Kendrick Lamar on Spotify in terms of monthly listeners.

LAROI isn't necessarily a newcomer to rap, though. He made his own music and rhymes in his home turf of Sydney, Australia, for years, garnering something of a local following. Now, he's a national hero, as Junkee describes. This is especially impressive seeing as Australia's hip-hop scene was pretty much non-existent until very recently, making LAROI a one-of-the-kind outlier who's more than set up for whatever path he and his career might take.

He owes his musical tastes to his mom

The Kid LAROI's musical stylings span multiple wheelhouses, but his core love has always been rap and hip-hop. In an interview on YouTube with No Jumper, he goes into some detail about how he owes his musical tastes to his mother. When he was growing up, LAROI heard 2Pac around the house, Fugees, soul artists like Erykah Badu, and more. LAROI says that he simply "liked the way they expressed themselves," and, as is the case with any personal connection to music, related the musicians' experiences to his own.

In this way, LAROI had one concentrated goal since the age of 7: get to Los Angeles and be a part of the rap community in the United States. To that end, he would borrow his mom's early-generation iPhone, record some lyrics over a backing track, post it on Facebook (and later SoundCloud), and simply continue trying to promote himself that way. His mother would sit down with him and not only encourage her son in his ventures, but strategize with him about how to best garner the attention of any well-known rapper, producer, or member of the industry who happened to be passing through the Sydney area. Phone numbers, waiting outside hotels for people, finding ways to get backstage and pass along his work face-to-face: LAROI doggedly doubled up on the modern trend of online promotion with good, old-fashioned face-to-face self-marketing.  

His parents separated at a young age and he wound up homeless

Born Charlton Kenneth Jeffrey Howard in 2003 in the Waterloo district of Sydney, an area of the city struggling with marginalization and poor development to this day (as the Sydney Morning Herald explains), LAROI was born into a middle class situation that rapidly deteriorated. As LAROI explains in his YouTube interview with No Jumper, he moved out to a "small country town" at around 7 or 8 years old, stayed in a boarding school for less than a year, and then wound up moving back to Sydney. As Time Magazine points out, his parents underwent a separation that likely contributed to the these moves.

Throughout this entire time, LAROI and his mother dealt with true poverty. LAROI resorted to selling drugs to make ends meet, and when his uncle was murdered in 2105 he and his mother wound up in the inner city district of Redfern, north of Waterloo. As LAROI recounts on Twitter, he once said to his uncle, "I want to be like you," and his uncle replied, "If you turn out like me, I'll be disappointed." Those words had a lasting impact on LAROI, and stuck with him even as he and his mom were kicked out of their house and drifted between friends' homes, essentially homeless. This is the exact time when LAROI was trying his hand at rapping and making a name for himself in the local community. 

He claims Indigenous Australian Kamilaroi heritage

On an introductory Facebook post from 2017, LAROI proudly proclaims himself a "14-year-old Indigenous rapper from Redfern." His mother, who raised him and supported him on his path to success, is an Indigenous Australian from the Kamilaroi tribe. This is where he gets his stage name from, adopting the "LAROI" segment of his tribe's name onto himself. This should be a clear indication as to how seriously he takes his heritage. 

On National Indigenous Television (NITV), LAROI stated, "My great, great, grandfather was part of the stolen generation. He was taken from his Aboriginal family and placed into a white family." In turn, LAROI's rise to fame has been taken as a powerful statement for Aboriginal peoples in Australia. Not only is LAROI a world-famous hip-hop artist from a nation whose rap scene hadn't developed until very recently, he's a "male Indigenous solo act." 

To that end, LAROI is very interested in representing Australia to the rest of the world. He says on Twitter, "One of my biggest goals in this whole music s*** from the beginning has always been to show the rest of the world what Australia has to offer, and how much raw and unseen talent that we have. It's not an overnight process, but I can feel it slowly happening." Meanwhile, back in Sydney, local artist Scott Marsh has painted a mural of LAROI — seen on Instagram — in the district where he was born, Waterloo.

He's a big supporter of Lyrical Lemonade

In an interview with No Jumper, LAROI was wearing a sweatshirt for a company that he's happy to support and talk about, Lyrical Lemonade. As Lyrical Lemonade's founder Cole Bennet describes in an interview with Forbes, Lyrical Lemonade is a combination musical curation-and-promotion site. It's a "music promotion company, event coordination, film production, I throw shows, I do music videos, we do merchandise. I usually just summarize it like that." A quick jump over to the Lyrical Lemonade website shows a host of slick content featuring an upcoming 2021 concert, Lyrical Lemonade's Summer Smash.

LAROI got in on Lyrical Lemonade's "empire," as Forbes calls it, very early, and Bennet himself was responsible for shooting the video for LAROI's 2020 hit track, "Go," featuring famed rapper and LAROI's personal mentor, the late Juice WRLD (watchable on YouTube). Bennet also had a hand in promoting and collaborating with Juice WRLD himself, as evidenced by the Lyrical Lemonade YouTube channel, which in its marquee features two Juice WRLD tracks, also directed by Bennet.       

With such deep ties to LAROI, it makes sense that Lyrical Lemonade would say of him, "When you think about all of the amazing storylines that have been attached to new artists in the music world, none are more inspiring than The Kid LAROI's," continuing, "he is without a doubt one of the most promising music talents that we have seen in the past decade."

His current goals are more modest than you might expect

Numerous articles talk not only about LAROI's "meteoric" rise to fame, as Time Magazine puts it, but already predict his massive, future impact on the music industry. He's not only surpassed megaton heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar, but also K-pop outfit BTS, has collaborations with the likes of Justin Bieber and Halsey in the works, and even the notoriously reticent-with-compliments Sir Elton John said of him, "You're going to be one of the biggest artists in the whole wide world."

But how about LAROI? His goal was always to reach Los Angeles and be involved in the rapping community in the U.S. And he's done it, already, by age 17. Where does he go from here?

As LAROI said in an interview with Billboard, he has a "weird power of manifesting stuff," meaning that when he sets his mind on something, it happens. But the death of mentor and friend Juice WRLD affected him so profoundly, and happened so shortly after he'd arrived in the U.S. and been shown the rapping ropes, so to speak, that he's become preoccupied with digging further into what matters in life. In a nutshell, he said, "It's scary that you could just die at any minute, but you know what? That's why every day I wake up and I do whatever the f*** I want. Because at least when I do die, I want to know that I made myself happy."