A year ago, not many of us had heard about The Kid LAROI. The then-16-year-old was beginning to pick up a buzz, attracting the attention of Australian rap fans and creeping his way into certain circles in America. After he dropped the Cole Bennett-directed music video for "Let Her Go", the future looked bright for the now-17-year-old, who has since been shining all year long.
Despite this year being pretty difficult for the majority of us, The Kid LAROI has done a lot of growing -- musically and personally -- in the last twelve months. He's officially moved from Sydney to Los Angeles, signed a deal with Lil Bibby and Grade A Productions, and has a few more hit records to his name. The teenager, whose real name is Charlton Howard, is looking set for a lifetime of success in music. If you know his story, you already know how integral the late Juice WRLD was in all of this.
Juice WRLD took The Kid LAROI on an arena tour, gifted him a feature (which would have cost around $200,000) for his birthday, and did so much more behind-the-scenes that many of us will never even know.
We recently spoke with The Kid LAROI to learn more about how he got to this position, touching on his upbringing Down Under, his move to L.A., his connection with Juice WRLD, his new music, and much more.
Watch the latest episode of On The Come Up with The Kid LAROI, and read the unabridged editorial version of the interview below, edited only for clarity.
HotNewHipHop: What's up, man?
The Kid LAROI: How are you doing, man? I'm good, just in fuckin’...Utah.
What are you doing out in Utah?
I’m just here to shoot a video.
For the deluxe?
Something on that, yeah.
Congratulations on the new deluxe, by the way! Let’s start off, for anybody who doesn’t know -- who is The Kid LAROI?
The Kid LAROI is a 17-year-old from Sydney, Australia who is an artist -- well, trying to be an artist at least, and, yeah... I don’t know. I got big visions. I don’t really know.
When did you start rapping?
I’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.
Yeah, no, exactly. I just grabbed my mom’s iPhone, and just do it and then upload, just like, videos to my personal Facebook and shit.
That’s a great way to get started. So you grew up in Australia -- I wanted to ask, what’s been most different for you, moving from Australia to LA?
I think the people are very different. And the pace of everything is very different. LA is very, you know, fast-paced, and everybody’s just minding their business, going about their work and shit like that. I don’t know, it’s just a lot of shit to do out in LA. You’ll never find yourself bored, I feel like, out there, there’s always something to do.
Even during quarantine? Is LA open-open right now?
Pretty much. Yeah, like, you can go to restaurants and shit.
"I ended up living with my mom, and we became super broke, and stuff like that, and my mom had to start, you know, doing things like selling drugs and stuff like that. So, that’s when my stuff kind of got a little crazy and I started seeing a lot of shit. I was about 3 or 4 years old when I started getting exposed to a lot of different types of shit, but it was up and down."
What was your childhood like? I heard it was pretty rough?
I had a bit of both. I was born into a middle-class family, who had a decent amount of money, and then my parents split up, and a whole lot of shit happened. You know, I ended up living with my mom, and we became super broke, and stuff like that, and my mom had to start, you know, doing things like selling drugs and stuff like that. So, that’s when my stuff kind of got a little crazy and I started seeing a lot of shit. I was about 3 or 4 years old when I started getting exposed to a lot of different types of shit, but it was up and down. That world, you kind of know how that goes. Like, up and down, it’s like, you’d be up, and then you’d be down, but then, some shit happened in Sydney where we had to move out of the city, like, ASAP, so we moved in with my grandparents in this country town called Broken Hill, and we stayed there for like, three or four years I wanna say.
Then my uncle, who I was very close to and my mom was very close to, and who helped my mom out a lot of stuff, he got murdered. So after that, a lot of stuff happened and we just had to -- well, actually, then I went to boarding school for six months, and that didn’t really work out. We had to move back to Sydney because my mom couldn’t really support me being there any longer, so we had to move back to Sydney, and then we moved back into project housing. That was when we were super broke and didn’t have, literally, shit. Like, some days there would be no food in the house. And then about two or three years into living there, we ended up getting kicked out of public housing ‘cause of a whole bunch of shit -- we was getting hella police reports in the house, they were saying too many people were coming out the crib and stuff like that, so we ended up not having a home, and we had to sleep around on my mom’s friends' couches, or I have, like, older friends who had houses that I would go and stay at. You know, we’d just be moving around a lot. A few months after all that happened, I ended up signing my deal, and yeah. That’s just the short version of it, you know. I could literally be here for hours talking about that shit, but I gotta rush.
You’ve been through a lot, man. So, at what point did you move to LA? Was that right after you signed the deal?
It was about four months, five months after I signed the deal. Maybe six months. So when I signed the deal, I moved back to Australia and rented out a little house there for like, two months, and then I flew back out to America to go on the tour with Juice WRLD, the Death Race for Love Tour, and that went for, like, three months or two months or something. After that tour, that’s when I moved to LA. And that’s when I moved in with Juice and [my manager Peter Jideonwo], and I stayed with them for like three months.
A Juice WRLD tribute at Rolling Loud - Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
What was it like living with Juice?
It was fire. I mean, it was cool as fuck to just watch him be him and create -- he was always in the studio, every single day, in his house. The only other place he would be -- and I didn’t wanna tell you this -- the only other place he would be was his bedroom. So yeah, it was super cool, and we got to do a lot of other cool shit that he was doing. I always got to tag along and stuff, that was cool.
Does your family live with you now in LA, or are they still back in Australia?
Yeah, I got my mom and my younger brother with me.
And what’s your relationship like with your dad?
He a cool dude. If I’m being honest, my whole life has been really in-and-out with my dad. There have been times where I haven’t really, you know, spoken to him for a long time. There’s a whole lot of family shit that I don’t really wanna get into, but now we’ve fixed everything up and that’s my guy. I love that guy, he a cool-ass dude.
What was school like for you? Were you a good student?
When I was mad young, like, in the fourth grade, I was probably a good student, I tried and shit. But after the fourth grade or fifth grade, I don’t know, I became super bad [laughs]. I would never really call myself a bad kid, ‘cause I was always kind of quiet, a little bit, or I would just like to talk in class or do dumb shit, I would never really listen or nothing. I would say I spent more time being a bad student than a good one, I’ll say that.
At what point did you drop out?
Like, halfway through the ninth grade.
Did you have a favorite subject at all?
Hate ‘em all [laughs]. Yeah, I dropped out halfway through the ninth grade, it’s crazy -- I didn’t even, like, sign out or anything -- I don’t know about in America, but in Australia, I guess you’re supposed to ‘sign out,’ or officially drop out, but I just literally just stopped going to school.
Have you thought about maybe doing college remotely, or ever going back to school in the future?
I don’t think, like, with all the shit that I’ve done, and with all the shit that I’ve been around and stuff like that, in terms of the whole music stuff and how fun everything’s been and how fast and how different it is, I literally don’t think I would be able to just sit down in a room and do math work and shit, I don’t know if I could do that.
Yeah. I feel you. At this point, you’ve built a stable career for yourself. So, you just dropped the deluxe called F*CK LOVE (SAVAGE). The first one focused more on love and loss, and then the deluxe has you taking more of a different perspective. What changed over the year?
I guess I just grew more as a person. You know, you get over sh*t. Like, girls and sh*t like that, you get over that and, I don’t know, I was just feeling like, after I got over this girl, I was just like, ‘It’s time to be savage, savage mode.’
How long were you guys together for?
I wouldn’t even say we were together. And it was a couple of different girls, you know?
And that’s why it was so tricky.
Why ‘F*CK LOVE?’ Have you ever been in love, first of all?
I think once before. I think, at least, I don’t know though. I’m young as shit, so I don’t know. I feel like I have, definitely, probably, but who’s to know, man? Who the fuck is to know? I don’t know. Does that shit even exist, for real? I don’t know. I don’t think there’s, like, one feeling that you can say, like, ‘This is what love is.’ I don’t know, you know what I mean?
I feel you. Do you think that in the future, you’ll ever be able to settle down with somebody, because obviously, now you live such a rock-star lifestyle, and a lot of people aren’t built for that.
I don’t know. Maybe one day I’ll find somebody, but I don’t know. Shit’s hard, ‘cause like, it’s a whole lot of different factors. It’s like, number one, when you’ve got clout or money or whatever, you don’t know who’s really for you. That’s just one thing, but another thing is like, from my experience, all girls want to have all your attention and all your time, and I’m trying to make money.
Are you dating anybody right now?
No. It’s complicated.
I feel you. Tell me about the relationship that you had with Juice WRLD -- you were kind of like his protégé.
That was my big brother. I learned a whole lot from him; I’m super-duper inspired by him, if you couldn’t tell. I don’t know, to me, he is really the greatest. There’s not a lot of people, I think, that can do what he did, and especially in such a short amount of time. You know, he was so young, like, fuckin' 19 when he broke onto the scene or whatever. I don’t know, I don’t understand anybody that could freestyle like that or could even accomplish what he accomplished in that short amount of time -- it’s insane.
He was in there freestyling for hours at a time. I’d personally call him one of the greatest songwriters of this generation.
Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And it’s crazy ‘cause he didn’t even write songs -- it was all off the top.
Image provided by the artist
Exactly. How did you meet him?
I met him through my managers, Pete, Bibby, and George. We’d been on the phone a couple of times and when I say on the phone, we had never had, like, a conversation. I’d just be on the phone with G Money or something and he’d be like, ‘Oh, say waddup to Juice,’ and he’d be like, ‘Waddup,’ you know, we didn’t know each other or nothing. When they came to Sydney for the first tour, I was opening up that tour. So Pete, who wasn't my manager at the time, him and Bibby were still trying to sign me, he told me to come through the hotel room, so I pulled up to Pete’s hotel room with, like, three of my friends, and we were just in there and Pete was like, ‘Oh, you can order anything that you want,’ and we were like, ‘Fuck, alright, bet.’ We just ordered a whole bunch of shit on room service, and we were waiting, and then we heard a doorbell, so we’re thinking, ‘Oh, maybe that’s the room service.' So I open the door and it was just Juice. I was expecting food and I was just like [shocked expression].
I didn’t really know what the fuck to say, you know? I was like, ‘Waddup, man,’ I don’t know. I was fanned-out like a motherfucker. I remember he came into the room and he was just like, ‘Waddup,’ he was talking to Pete about something, me and my friend are literally in the room looking at each other and texting each other like, ‘That’s Juice WRLD, what the fuck,’ so we were geeked. But then the next day, he had a meet-and-greet that they invited me to, so I pulled up there and just kicked it with him and we started getting into conversation and he told me to pull up to the studio and stuff like that, so yeah. And that was when we recorded one of our first songs.
Was that “Go” or even before that?
Nah, before that. It’s a song that’s not released, it’s probably never gonna get released.
How many songs are you sitting on with him?
It’s a couple. You know, man, Juice recorded like a machine. I think anybody who collabed with Juice can say that they got at least five songs [from him] ‘cause that’s what you would make in a session, he would just make five songs.
That’s insane. His work ethic sounds incredible.
Yeah, I feel like everyone that’s collaborated with him could be like, ‘Oh yeah, me and Juice got some shit in the--’ cause he would just want to work, work, work.
So what’s your relationship like with Lil Bibby then?
That’s my big brother. He’s like my mentor, and just a great dude. Obviously, he’s the reason for everything -- him and George and Pete. I feel like he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does, ‘cause he is a real visionary and he is a really smart dude who, I don’t know, not a lot of people his age can do what he does in terms of, obviously not on the music side, but in terms of the business side, and how he operates, and stuff like that. He’s always teaching me little things about the business and stuff like that. Yeah, that’s my brother.
"I feel like [Lil Bibby] doesn’t get enough credit for what he does, ‘cause he is a real visionary and he is a really smart dude who, I don’t know, not a lot of people his age can do what he does in terms of, obviously not on the music side, but in terms of the business side, and how he operates, and stuff like that. He’s always teaching me little things about the business and stuff like that. That’s my brother."
I wanted to ask you how you feel about hologram performances. I know XXXTentacion's mom was considering doing a hologram tour for X. Is that something that you would want to see done in the future for Juice?
I don’t know. I just think whatever’s right, is right. I feel like whatever feels right, will be right. I can’t say if I would want to see that or if I wouldn’t want to see that, ‘cause it’s just one of those things I just really don’t have a comment on, but I feel like whatever feels right is gonna happen, and I don’t think anybody in Juice’s team or family is gonna let anything bad happen, you know what I’m saying? So I feel like whatever’s right is gonna happen.
Yeah, fair enough. You’re still 17 years old, you’ve got a lot of room to grow and already, you’ve come into your own as an artist, I feel, you’ve built this tremendous fanbase for yourself -- where can you go from here?
There’s a lot of places, man, we’re just getting started. I’m tryna take over the entire world, I’m tryna be the biggest artist in the world, so we’ve got a long way to go.
It’s a long way to go, but you’re taking the right steps. This week, you did Spotify Radar -- it’s little things like that that are huge for rising artists.
Yeah, no, one hundred percent. Shoutout to Spotify, too, for that.
You’ve been linking up a lot with Internet Money, you’re on their album. You guys have made some hits together -- what are things like when you get in the studio with those guys?
It’s just a vibe, like, I’ll pull up to the studio late as fuck, maybe like 11 or 12, and I just go in there and be like, ‘Taz, I need some shit,’ or ‘Cxdy, I need some shit,’ and then just go through loops and we just start making shit, and whatever comes out the best just comes out the best. I actually live-streamed this session with me and Internet Money before.
I feel like that was probably interesting to watch for the fans. Especially if there are aspiring artists that are watching you and seeing your process. That's definitely inspiring for them. People will always want to see the behind-the-scenes process.
It was definitely interesting to watch, but it’s crazy ‘cause we didn’t even make any songs. We just started a whole bunch of ideas but I wasn’t vibing with any of the ideas, it was one of our off nights, but it is crazy just to see, ‘cause I know, like, as a fan of other artists, especially before I gained popularity or whatever, I would love watching shit like that, you know? Like, my favorite artists in the studio, recording, or how they do things. I don’t know, I was just a real fan of everybody and I would just look at shit like that and it would make me really happy. It would really motivate me, as well.
We spoke about Juice’s recording process before. He was more of a freestyler. What are you like when you get in the studio? Do you like writing your shit out, or do you kind of just get in the booth and go off?
I just go in the booth and go off the top. I actually learned that from Juice, which is funny. I always used to write my shit, and then I saw him do it and I was like, ‘This looks cool,’ so I tried to do it and I was like, ‘Holy shit, I actually like this a lot,’ and so I would just do it, and now it feels way more, just, natural for me to do that. When I write something, it feels like I’m...I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel as natural to me anymore.
"I just go in the booth and go off the top. I actually learned that from Juice, which is funny. I always used to write my shit, and then I saw him do it and I was like, ‘This looks cool,’ so I tried to do it and I was like, ‘Holy shit, I actually like this a lot,’ and so I would just do it, and now it feels way more, just, natural for me to do that. When I write something, it feels like I’m...I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel as natural to me anymore."
I wanted to get your take on the deluxe album trend -- this year, we’ve seen a lot of artists release deluxe albums, and it’s been criticized, however, I find with your deluxe, it’s a little different because you kind of went in a different direction from the original.
I mean, the deluxe thing, I did a deluxe myself so I can’t be a hypocrite, but again, I do think the way I did it was a little differently, and I kind of told the fans that it was really an EP ‘cause that’s really what it was, but we just added it to the last one ‘cause it just continued the story, so we were just like, ‘Fuck it, let’s just do it.’ I feel like there’s nothing really wrong about a deluxe, but I do feel like if you just drop a deluxe of the album and you don’t rebrand it as something else or make it its own thing, I feel like a lot of good songs that can get overlooked just because you’re dropping so much, you know what I’m saying? But I don’t know, different strokes for different folks, man.
I like that. Back to Australia, I heard that there’s a pretty intense drill scene--
[launches into ONEFOUR's “Spot The Difference”] ONEFOUR, we still active, we still urching, if I ain’t there in the field…yeah, I know you know about that.
That’s what’s up [laughs]. So, what’s the drill scene like in Australia?
The drill scene in Australia is taking over, man.
Do you think you’ll ever explore that drill sound?
Nah, but I just dropped a song with my brothers ONEFOUR, it’s called “My City,” I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but you should check it out, it’s more in their sound. But you know, my thing is if I do a drill sound, it would be taking the sound and the sonics and stuff and doing it my own way. I’m never the type to get on track and be, ‘I’m smoking dadadadada…’ or, ‘I’m killin’ my f-,’ you know what I’m saying? ‘Cause that’s not me. That’s not the person that I am, you know what I’m saying? And people are able to see right through that shit, and it’s just not me and it’s just, like, corny to me. But I’d do it in my own way. I have real shit to talk about, even if it’s not me killing people, you know what I’m saying?
You went viral earlier this year with "Addison Rae". What's the story behind that?
If I’m being completely honest, I just knew that shit was gonna go viral ‘cause I saw how big she was getting in such a short amount of time, and I was just like, ‘This is perfect,’ like, ‘This is gonna destroy TikTok.’
That was very smart.
So I just did it on some funny shit, I just recorded two lines and then bounced out the song, and I just did it and I was like, ‘Let me see if the TikTok gets attention, then it would just be funny.’ I don’t know, I was expecting people to, you know, be like, ‘Oh, what the hell,’ and then go follow my page, just building and shit like that, but it turned into a whole thing where everyone was spamming my Instagram comments like, ‘Drop “Addison Rae,”’ and “Addison Rae” wasn’t even a song, you know? It was literally two lines, so I had to make the song in like an hour and then fuckin’ drop it, but yeah. She’s a great girl though, I fuck with her.
You’ve had a breakout year but, with the pandemic, you're limited in terms of performances and touring. Personally, what was your 2020 like?
I mean, it’s been great. I’m super blessed and grateful that I’ve been able to have a really good year in terms of my music and everything, ‘cause a lot of people have been struggling with the whole pandemic and stuff like that, so I’ve been very fortunate to have a really good year. But, I just wish that we could go on tour.
Yeah. I feel you.
But, I saw that in May next year, shit might be opening back up, so WOOOOH!
Yeah! I saw Rolling Loud in Miami.
Yeah, I saw that, that’s what I saw.
That’s gonna be mad fun, just to be back in the pit and to get back on stage, it’s gonna feel amazing. You’ve worked with some big stars in the last year -- you have Machine Gun Kelly on the deluxe, you’ve worked with Lil Mosey, you’ve worked with Lil Tecca -- have you been collaborating with more artists? In the future are we gonna see that?
Amazing. What’s on the docket for 2021?
Respect. Any closing words for the readers?
I love everybody, I love my family, and I hope everybody’s ready for 2021, and that’s it.
And go stream F*CK LOVE!
Oh yeah, go stream that, it sucks.
[laughs] I appreciate you man, thank you for taking the time today.