F— Love 3: Over You ★★★★½
The Kid Laroi
It’s the year 2021 and one-time millennial heartthrob Justin Bieber is appearing on an Australian teenager’s mixtape. Savvy move? Very.
Seventeen-year-old Charlton Howard, better known as The Kid Laroi, has been quietly amassing a homegrown following since 2018. If he wasn’t on your radar then, there’s no escaping him now. In fact, if the pandemic nudged you even slightly in TikTok’s direction, you’ve likely been listening to his work for months.
Born in Sydney’s Waterloo, Howard’s teen years were spent couch surfing with his mother after his parents’ split thrust them into financial hardship. Under the wing of Sydney producer-to-the-stars Khaled Rohaim, Howard’s rapping turned from an adolescent coping mechanism to a passion, and then to a full-blown career when he was discovered by Lil Bibby in 2019.
By late 2020 The Kid Laroi’s mixtape project F— Love had debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and he has since hit No. 3 on the Hot 100 with his 2021 collaboration with Bieber, Stay.
Now living in L.A., The Kid Laroi boasts collaborations with the late rap megastar Juice WRLD, a spot on Bieber’s studio album Justice, a remix of breakthrough hit Without You with none other than Miley Cyrus, a Saturday Night Live appearance, over 35 million monthly listeners on Spotify (that’s more than The Rolling Stones or The Beatles)… oh, and he has Elton John’s stamp of approval, too.
Today, almost a year to the day since The Kid Laroi dropped the first mixtape of the F— Love project, the final instalment, F— Love 3: Over You, is ours for the taking.
Where a studio album might take us on a smoother journey, FL3 is a sometimes-erratic patchwork of angst, anger and – eventually – the burgeoning confidence of new love, all fashioned in Laroi’s signature pop-infused, lyrical emo rap. Gone are the lo-fi “skits” from F— Love and the wide-eyed hurt of F— Love (Savage), but in a digital age that threatens to void mixtapes of their meaning, Laroi takes the DIY format and preserves the rough-cut, middle-finger energy of his previous releases, albeit with the slicker production values of his new LA crowd.