The Kid LAROI closed out the final day of NBA All-Star Weekend Sunday night (Feb. 19) with an unforgettable headlining performance at the AT&T NBA All-Star Pre-Game Concert. However, it’s his two new singles, “Kids Are Growing Up” and “Love Again,” that have fans most excited for his upcoming debut studio album, The First Time.
“I’m super happy, man. I’m happy to be putting stuff out again and thrilled to be going on tour again,” LAROI tells Billboard about returning to the music scene after a two-year absence. “Believe it or not, I feel like a lot of artists don’t enjoy touring — but I went on my first one last year, and that shit was so f–king fun.”
During the conversation with the 19-year-old artist, it’s clear that he has an unwavering desire to achieve greatness and create music that deeply resonates with his fans. Citing the late Kobe Bryant as one of his favorite basketball players, the Lakers legend’s strong work ethic has profoundly impacted the young Australian’s approach to his craft.
“I’ve been making [the album] over the past two years,” LAROI explains. “Not two years of every day working towards this album, but two years in between other stuff. Making little ideas, and the stuff that I started with at the beginning that I’m going to see through to the end with this [album]. And then the stuff that I made three days ago that I feel needs to be on the f–king thing. So, it’s just been a slow process.”
The young prodigy says that he’s really buckled down the past three or four months to complete the much-anticipated musical release. His last project, the Billboard 200 chart-topper F–k Love 3, was something that he confessed he’s not particularly proud of from a messaging perspective.
“I kind of don’t like that project, man,” he chuckles. “To be honest, I don’t really agree with a lot of the stuff on there anymore. I mean, I don’t agree with the message of the album in general. ‘F–k Love,’ I think it was an immature statement to make. I think it was like a heat of the moment statement.”
In recent years, LAROI’s home country Australia has made an undeniable impact in producing a diverse range of talents in sports and entertainment, including NBA players Ben Simmons, Josh Giddey and Patty Mills. Simmons, in particular, was thrust into the public eye at a young age, an experience that LAROI can relate to — acknowledging that navigating personal growth in the public eye has been a process of trial and error. However, this unique vulnerability and outlook have helped him build a devoted base early in his career, and as The First Time approaches its release date, fans can anticipate more of his exceptional vulnerability and perspective that have propelled him to early fame.
“For me, I think I look at it [as] a big blessing. It’s also a bit of a curse,” LAROI says about his global success at a young age. “I signed my record deal with Columbia when I was 15 … at 15, you don’t know anything. You really don’t. You’re like a literal child, even if you don’t understand that at the time. I’m about to be 20 this year, and I f–king look back at 15, and I feel like I was a literal child and a baby.”
Fans can expect a fresh outlook from LAROI on this up-and-coming LP — but the young star still puts everything in appropriate perspective when it comes to his past efforts.
“The cool thing about music and putting stuff out is it’s like a time capsule, right?” he says. “So, it’s like, ‘Whatever, that’s how I felt at the time.’ And it’s cool that I get to look back, cringe at it, and be proud of the next stuff I’m about to put out.”
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