The Kid LAROI: 17-Year Old Rapper Rewriting History, From Homelessness to the Top of the World
Many compare him to a trap version of Justin Bieber. Who's The Kid LAROI, where does he come from and what's his story?
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At the time of his very beginnings, he was mentored by Juice WRLD himself. Started composing music at the age of 13, but even then he strived for precision and smooth flows based on melodies. Despite the fact that the 17-year-old The Kid LAROI, real name Charlton Kenneth Jeffrey Howard, lived in poverty for many years and even on the street for a while, he has never talked about gangs, guns or killing people.
"I'm not going to rap about killing people when I'm not killing them," says LAROI. Although he got started at a very young age, almost from the very start, he could pride himself with quite developed voice and his ability to operate it better than many pop stars do. He's considered a rapper, but you can often hear his voice in rock, pop or R&B inclined songs as well.
In a way, he may even sound like a mumble rapper with grillz in his mouth at first, but the truth is that even without them, he has a lisp. And that's what makes his music special. Meet one of the youngest and most successful Australian rappers.
- How Juice WRLD became his mentor.
- What The Kid LAROI actually means.
- Why he's often compared to Justin Bieber.
- How he rewrote history.
- How he became homeless.
From the street to the top
Charlton was born on August 17th 2003 in the suburbs of Sydney in Waterloo. However, in his case there was nothing admirable about his childhood. His family didn't have a lot of money, father abandoned them and he and his mother had to move around the Australian state of New South Wales due to their financial problems.
He also lived with his grandparents for some time. From the age of seven he was cared for by his mother and his uncle, who was murdered when Charlton was 11 years old. They moved back to Sydney from Broken Hill on the other side of the state. He's one of the few rappers that actually experienced homelessness, when he found himself on the street with his mother. Him and his father, who was originally French, had strained relations, but according to what he says, they've already been set straight.
Stage name The Kid LAROI originates from one of the four largest Australian indigenous nations, Kamilaroi (also known as Gamilaraay), whose lands extend from New South Wales to southern Queensland. It was Charlton's great-grandfather who was one of the Kamilaroi natives. The rapper wanted to honor his memory.
Music has accompanied him since the moment of his birth. However, he only listened to Australian music sporadically, given that there isn't many mainstream Australian rappers out there. From an early age, he was especially impressed by American hip hop. His favorite artists were The Fugees, Erykah Badu and Tupac for example.
"II’ve always been surrounded by music and shit when I was younger. My mom used to play a lot of music around the house. I’d always just try to freestyle when I was a little-little kid, but I guess when I got into the studio and actually recorded something -- well, not even in a studio, just on a microphone in a garage -- I was like, I would like to say, maybe 13. 12 or 13 years old." he said for HotNewHipHop about the time when he started getting into music.
He started adding music to SoundCloud at first, similar to many rappers coming up overseas. In 2018, when he was 14, he released his debut EP called 14 With A Dream, full of trap beats and melodic lines. At the same time, despite his young age, his voice and flow is at an enviable level to many of his well-established colleagues on the scene.
Despite living in a poor and socially insecure environment for many years, he never went on about gangs, weapons, or killing people, which is the case with many American rappers. "I'm not gonna come out talkin' bout killing people when I'm not killing people" LAROI told YouTuber Adam Grandmaison (also known as Adam22) in a report for No Jumper.
Rap was initially an escape from everyday family problems for him. Gradually, he began to get recognized on the American scene and many of his songs appeared in the local charts over there. First major international success was achieved after the drop of the track Let Her Go. He released that in partnership with the well-known director Cole Bennett, owner of the prestigious multimedia company and label Lyrical Lemonade.
He also gained attention after reaching the finals in the show of the well-known Australian digital radio station Triple J Unearthed. As he said himself, he takes music very seriously and truly considers it art. From the very start, he was super determined and had a clear mission - to get to the top.
Juice WRLD mentorship
Many compare him to a trap version of Justin Bieber, not only for their similar features, but also for the melodic precision, variability, and the fact that they've both become known to the general public at a relatively young age. With a difference of about one decade, though.
LAROI has a very good relationship with Justin - just recently, they published posts on their socials of them spending time together, which in their case is often on the basketball court. The Australian rapper even appeared on Bieber's recent album Justice, featuring on the song called Unstable.
However, JB is not the only celebrity with whom LAROI has a friendly relationship. Other well-known artists, such as Lil Bibby or the now deceased Juice WRLD, have contributed to his early career in a much more significant way. LAROI signed a recording contract with Bibby's Grade A Productions and Columbia Records in 2019, and moved to the United States.
During this period he also met Juice WRLD, who became his personal mentor due to a similar style and talent - not only music-wise, but also in many other personality aspects. In 2019, LAROI also accompanied him on his Australian tour, as the supporting act.
Later in August that year, they recorded the song GO together, but unfortunately, Juice did not live to hear its release. He died of an overdose four months later. This sudden tragedy resonated terribly in young Charlton. To this day, he speaks of him as his "big brother."
Fortunately, Juice did not take on his love of drugs, but the more positive qualities such as workaholism and a sixth-sense for the perfect recording. Their collaborative song GO became an instant hit, even ranking as #52 on the prestigious Billboard Hot 100 music chart.
And it didn't end there. As part of Juice's posthumous album Legends Never Die, another collabo track, Hate the Other Side, was released, which also included Polo G. The beat was taken care of by Marshmello. At the end of 2020, their last feat, Reminds Me Of You, was published.
The most successful Australian rapper, just getting started
The death of Juice WRLD has hit him hard, but at the same time, it got him to push even more to be able to continue working on his very promising career. Collaborating extensively with Colo Bennett and his Lyrical Lemonade company, which had been actively producing music videos for Juice. Gradually, more collabo's, hits and even greater success came along.
His songs also went viral on TikTok in 2020. One of them was, for example, the song Diva in collaboration with Lilo Tecca. Later the song Addison Rae, named after the famous American influencer and TikToker. She also tried out a joint cameo with him in a successful video for the Blueberry Faygo track by Lil Mosey.
In 2020, his debut mixtape F * ck Love was released, with appearances by Lilo Mosse, along with other well-known artists. The song Tell Me Why, in which LAROI honored the memory of Juice WRLD, also became quite successful. The mixtape is melodic, but this time it's more of a melancholic affair zooming in on relationship problems, love life and drama.
Same year, deluxe version of the mixtape called F * ck Love (Savage) dropped, hosting names such as Marshmello, Machine Gun Kelly, YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Internet Money. Perhaps the most successful song, paradoxically, became the Without You solo track with a unique pop-rock atmosphere, accompanied by an acoustic guitar.
Despite of the many platinum and gold singles, he is just getting started. There's still no studio album out, yet he's already ahead of most rappers in numbers. His debut album is planned to be released this year. In the meantime, he still managed to sign a contract with the prestigious Sony Music Publishing, literally rewriting history.
At the age of 17, he became the youngest artist to reach number one on Australia's most prestigious ARIA Album Chart, with the deluxe version of the F * ck Love (Savage) mixtape. The record has streamed more than a billion times.
"It's insane. #1 in my own country means more to me than anything in the world. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and been with me through all of this. I love you all and I can’t wait to see you all again soon," said the most successful Australian rapper in history, The Kid LAROI. And it's just getting started.
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