It’s no secret that rap-rock is having a bit of a comeback right now. Distancing itself from the nu-metal scene of the early ‘00s, “glock-rock” (as it’s been dubbed) is seeing hip-hop stars revive the precarious crossover with thrilling results. Australia’s latest viral sensation, The Kid LAROI, is one such artist. Crooning over heavy 808s and zippy hit-hats, the teen’s new mixtape ‘F*CK LOVE’ shows off his versatile artistry as he explores his adolescent views on love, loss, and heartbreak with a penchant to let things get a bit gnarly here and there.
From the off, it makes no secret in trying to hide this influence. On ‘MAYBE’, the teen jumps about on a trap-style beat with a punky melody, setting the tone for the whole mixtape, all the while paying tribute to a huge influence in his life, Juice WRLD, who he likens to “a big brother”. The late US rapper mentored the 16-year-old LAROI in his formative years, and makes an appearance on heart-wrenching ‘TELL ME WHY’, which explores LAROI’s attempts at managing his grief after his death. Juice’s appearance on this mixtape’s ‘GO’ and their other team-up recent posthumous album, ‘Legends Never Die’ suggest that this pairing was still in its formative stages – something great was surely brewing.
Beyond those emotional moments, there are more sparks of genius. By reworking of Ne-Yo’s ‘00s classic ‘So Sick’ on ‘NEED YOU THE MOST’, the 16-year-old updates the track’s tale through a Gen-Z lens, where he flips the script, takes accountability and drowns his sorrows: “I said I was sorry for all of the times I fucked up / Fuck love, got me thinkin’ while I pour my cup up”. An injection of nostalgia makes this 16-year-old seem light years ahead of his peers – he knows a thing or two about making music with some longevity.
LAROI knows how to turn heartbreak into great music, just like his idol. Showing off his extensive musicality and emotional depth, The Kid LAROI is proof that the next generation are ready, willing and able to bring something new to the table.
Release date: July 24
Record label: Columbia Records