Courtesy of Grade A Productions

April 20, 2021

The Kid LAROI: Playing the Anti-Hero

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After releasing his debut project in July 2020 and a six-song deluxe edition soon after, The Kid LAROI rocketed to the top of the music industry. His precocious nature in both age and limited body of work have grabbed the attention of many, including stalwarts in the industry. The Kid LAROI recently appeared on Justin Beiber’s newest album, Justice, and is rumored to appear on tracks with superstars Halsey and Miley Cyrus. Both fans and contemporaries alike seem to be recognizing LAROI’s impending stardom. 

This meteoric rise is not completely unforeseen, as inroads with Juice WRLD and Lyrical Lemonade have proven to be judicial promotion tactics. Furthermore, LAROI delivers a style of melodic-emo rap that was recently popularized by Juice WRLD, Trippie Redd and XXXtentacion, all of whom have had unprecedented commercial success. He has adeptly  jumped on contemporary trends at just the right time. 

Still, LAROI has differentiated himself as a unique artist with his textured voice and over-vocalization, both of which give his music a punky-spin. His signature voice-quivers and register switch-ups further convey the intense emotion and pain he brings to each track. 

Despite LAROI’s fast rise to fame, he portrays himself as an underdog. His music details a rough childhood in which “ mama used to sell drugs to pay for my school (Pikachu)” and “Just three years ago, I was like you / Ninth grade, dropped out of school, used to sleep on JD couches (Pikachu).” LAROI’s dramatic change from struggling with the necessities of life to dealing with overwhelming fame does not go unrecognized. He acknowledges it by lamenting, “I got nothin’ to prove, but a whole lot to lose (Pikachu).” 

It’s hard to toss an old mindset in a dustbin and sweep it away. LAROI has gone through the vicissitudes of life in a short 17 year span. This experience has created the ambiguous lens through which he now views the world. So, to create a coherent view of himself and the world around him, The Kid LAROI often eschews reality and creates his own.   

LAROI’s music is hyper-emotional. While very cognizant of his feelings and their shortcomings, LAROI often rationalizes them away with his lyrics. On “Always Do,” LAROI explains, “I know you can’t believe me ’cause I never tell the truth / but, oh I wish that you could just see that it’s only to protect you.” Similarly, on “Selfish,” he proffers, “And I’m not proud of the things I do / But it’s okay ’cause you do them too.” LAROI decides that his misconduct is not only justified but also just. This type of disingenuous internal dialog enters everyone’s minds at some point and helps us avoid the complicated undercurrents behind our actions. 

To fight the mercurial nature around him, LAROI falls back on himself. He creates his own world in which everything is ok. On “Selfish,” LAROI proclaims, “you don’t love me, that’s a lie, I don’t believe it.” Later in the same song he states, “drive me to hell in a drop top (Selfish).” LAROI understands that all his inappropriate behavior and mental shortcuts are leading him down a bad path. Nevertheless, LAROI decides to focus on feeling good while blocking out any and all potential repercussions. 

Given all his flaws, LAROI seems comfortable residing in a constructed reality. In a fateful confession, LAROI reveals “Said I was gon change, both know that I can’t (Always Do).” After all the mental gymnastics he engages in through his LP,  the most consequential to his personal development is this idle proclamation. He feels destined to stay a flawed character.

Despite his music’s stylistic appeal, it is clear LAROI’s lyrical content has also attracted fans. The 17 year-old, Australian born rapper has generated social media fodder by charting more monthly listeners on Spotify than industry titans Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Lil Wayne, and Lil Uzi Vert. This seems to be only the beginning for The Kid LAROI, who has yet to release a debut album. 

Is there one identifiable element that has made The Kid LAROI so successful? Perhaps, he is playing the anti-hero. LAROI is simultaneously successful and larger-than-life, while also flush with twisted logic and the indiscretions that follow. This does not differentiate Laroi but rather, makes him exactly like the rest of us. A vicarious trip through Laroi’s music is undoubtedly a trip of self reflection as well. 

We live in an ambiguous world but rarely realize that we too are equivocal people. LAROI is well aware of this but cannot handle the burden of that truth. Yet he is one step ahead of most, who choose not to identify their own flaws. Recognizing The Kid LAROI, just maybe, brings us one step closer to recognizing ourselves.

Being an overt anti-hero can theoretically pose some problems. But despite all LAROI’s disingenuity, it is the most candid way to be.  

Max Roitman is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. He can be reached at [email protected].