Why The Kid LAROI Is Such A Big Deal For Australian Music
The Kid LAROI is a 17 year old First Nations rapper originally from Waterloo in Sydney. He’s just reached one billion streams and is becoming one of the most successful hip-hop forces to have ever come out of Australia.
In just a few years The Kid LAROI has gone from being Triple j Unearthed talent to a global hip-hop sensation.
He first started releasing music in Australia back in 2018. It has a real emo-rap vibe, which was a genre that was taking off in the US around that time.
And after releasing his first full length mixtape F**K LOVE earlier this year, LAROI has now positioned himself alongside hugely successful American SoundCLoud rappers.
He’s an exciting artist because industry people don’t think we’ve really had someone this big come out of Australia since Iggy Azalea, which already kind of makes LAROI Australia’s second most successful hip-hop act on a global level.
Not to mention that he’s also a TikTok sensation, has a Spotify documentary about his life and now lives in LA in a house he bought for his mum.
Sosefina Fuamoli: “There aren’t any Australian artists that are doing what he’s doing on that scale, being based in the international market too. That’s just something not really happening right now and when it does happen it’s a lightning strike, it only happens very rarely.”
That’s Sosefina Fuamoli, she’s a music writer and radio host.
She’s been watching The Kid LAROI’s success unfold and told me she’s surprised at how quickly he’s managed to do it all at such a young age, and with the little resources he had.
Where Did The Kid LAROI Come From?
The Kid LAROI is really Charlton Howard, whose heritage is with the Kimilaroi people, which is where he got his artist name LAROI from.
He was born in Waterloo but lived in Broken Hill throughout his early childhood and then came back to Sydney, where at times he was homeless and moved between houses in Redfern with his mother and uncle.
He started creating music when he was just 13 and it was his breakthrough song Blessings that caught the attention of US rapper Lil Bibby.
LAROI was signed to Bibby’s record label and then supported Juice WRLD on his 2018 and 2019 Australian tours, forming a close bond with the rapper who later died from an accidental overdose at the end of 2019.
SF: “I feel like that formed a lot of LAROI’s foundations, at least internationally speaking. Like, a lot of people wouldn’t have known who he was if it wasn’t for his connection with Juice WRLD. He’s been able to use that and separate from that as well, and try and create a legacy of his own.”
LAROI definitely leans into Juice WRLD’s emo-rap style, and the type of lyrics that spoke explicitly to Juice’s struggles with addiction and dangerous lifestyle, which historically rappers have always sung about chasing.
This emotionally heavier music is really popular among younger generations and Sosefina argues it’s because young people are generally better at talking about mental health and want artists they look up to, to do the same.
Cultivating A New Way For Young Aussie Artists
LAROI does that with his lyrics, but he’s also developed his own voice that reflects and champions his Australian roots.
SF: “Kid LAROI started off here and he cultivated things here – he didn’t move to the US to chase his hip-hop dreams, he started it here. And I feel like that’s an interesting point in the culture.”
Even when F**K LOVE reached 8th position on the Billboard chart in its first week, LAROI posted that 60% of the mixtape was produced by Australians.
This is a really significant moment for Australian hip-hop because The Kid LAROI has kind of set a new blueprint for a lot of aspiring Aussie artists, and shown that our local music industry has a lot to offer.