Favorite Track: "TELL ME WHY" Least Favorite Track: "SAME THING"
It is not often that I take some sort of offense to the music I listen to. I tend to have genres that I enjoy and genres I don’t, but very rarely do I take a personal issue with the artist and their music. The Kid LAROI has become an exception to this rule with his new mixtape, F*ck Love. 16 year old Australian native Charlton Howard is a rapper, singer, and collaborator of famous names such as Juice WRLD, blackbear, and Lil Tecca. He skyrocketed to fame under the moniker The Kid LAROI since accompanying Juice WRLD on a tour and releasing a few hit singles such as “Diva (feat Lil Tecca)” and “Addison Rae”. Being thrown into fame at such a young age, especially in a genre dominated by sexual themes and drug use, leaves room for LAROI to show originality, but instead opts for a samey approach to emo rap that at times is painfully reminiscent of his peers such as Trippie Redd or Juice WRLD.
His age is unfortunately quite telling of the maturity of this record the moment you realize that the majority of it is spent discussing relationships. Still being a kid, LAROI unfortunately does not tackle these topics with maturity and grace in the way that some of his elder peers may have been able to do. The skits on the record tell a loose narrative through a series of phone calls, one of LAROI keeping a girl around as a “booty call”, which she is reasonably angry about, as she feels that her emotions are being toyed with. LAROI then calls her again, where she starts yelling about how LAROI had one of her best friends at his house, and she suspects that they have been fooling around. She tells him that their “relationship” is over. He then calls her one more time, for her new boyfriend to pick up and tell him not to call her again. On the final skit, he gets her on a phone call where she explains that her new boyfriend treats her exponentially better than LAROI, to which he evidently does not respond positively to. While I do have to commend LAROI for trying to tell some sort of a narrative on this record, I can’t say it is one that is of any interest to me.
If the songs on the record reflected any kind of regret on LAROI’s part, I would feel significantly better about indulging in the narrative told, but instead LAROI repeatedly plays the blame game on songs like “ERASE U” and “SELFISH”. He blames the girl on the other end for all of the problems within their relationship, saying that she did him wrong and he relentlessly plays the victim card. The track “SAME THING” is essentially about how his girl treats him wrong, running around and cheating on him, but he can’t be mad because he does the same thing as her, essentially relinquishing any deniability he may have had in the narrative of the record.
There are also some points where it doesn’t feel as though the talent LAROI has is being allowed to shine through, whether it be due to beats that just don’t fit his voice or lackluster songwriting, and this really drags the record down. The track “RUNNING” has some incredibly obnoxious synth lines running in the back part of the mix, with the autotuned vocals and the incredibly repetitive and boring chorus making it easily one of the worst tracks on the record. There are also some points where the vocals are nearly indistinguishable from any other mainstream rapper of LAROI’s type, like on the tracks “WRONG” and “NEED MOST (So Sick)”
There are highlights within the record if you look past the issues mentioned previously, such as the moody and haunting “TELL ME WHY”, most likely a song about the passing of friend and collaborator Juice WRLD. The production on the record is relatively pristine, and the songs are mixed pretty well. LAROI’s voice has a sort of raspy quality to it that definitely reminds me of Trippie Redd. This is most evident on the opening track “MAYBE”, but it does have a distinct quality to it. His voice is a little less dark than Trippie’s and his vocals sound significantly more controlled even when put under strain. The song “GO” is a relatively fun point on the record, although the chorus doesn’t do too much for me other than get me moving a bit.
F*ck Love is a record that is made by an artist who has potential but doesn’t seem to know what he wants or how to go about a career yet. The narrative makes LAROI come off insensitive and oblivious, and the record falls pretty flat despite a few highlights in the tracklist. For LAROI to improve past this record, two things need to happen; he needs to come up with a more mature narrative, if one is needed at all, and he needs to find his own sound. I do believe that his current sound has a lot of potential, but as I mentioned before, it is a bit too derivative of artists like Trippie Redd or Juice WRLD, and there are plenty of artists less popular than LAROI that do the style better than him, such as Landon Cube and Yung Pinch. With a few changes to his formula and a more fully realized sense of self, LAROI will easily progress past what I feel is the most disappointingly mediocre rap record of the year so far.