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Born in Sydney but raised in the New South Wales outback town of Broken Hill, Charlton Kenneth Jeffrey Howard got his love for hip-hop and R&B music from his mother, who turned him on to albums by Fugees, Tupac, and Erykah Badu. After moving back to the Waterloo neighborhood of Sydney, Howard began performing at the age of 13 using the name the Kid LAROI. His debut EP, 14 with a Dream, was released independently in 2018 (he was 14 at the time). That same year, he earned national attention as a finalist on the Triple-J Unearthed competition and landed a spot opening for American rapper Juice WRLD on his Australian tour. The two musicians struck up a friendship, with Juice WRLD helping to mentor LAROI in the industry.
A contract was struck with Columbia Records and Lil Bibby's Grade A Productions in 2019, helping LAROI's single "Let Her Go" find a wider audience. 2020 proved to be his breakthrough year, however, first with the Lil Tecca collaboration "Diva" and then with his Juice WRLD-assisted hit "Go." The track helped LAROI's first mixtape, F*CK LOVE, reach number three on the Australian chart and an impressive number eight in the U.S. In November, he released an expanded version of the mixtape as F*CK LOVE (SAVAGE), padding the original material out with seven additional songs, including single "Tragic," which featured Youngboy Never Broke Again and Internet Money, as well as tracks with contributions from Marshmello and Machine Gun Kelly. In December he issued new Juice WRLD-adjacent single, "Reminds Me of You," as well as a remix of his song "Without You" made in collaboration with Miley Cyrus. Both songs made it to the Billboard charts, and "Without You" cracked the Top Ten. In 2021, along with releasing several other charting singles, LAROI's joint effort with Justin Bieber, "Stay," rose to the Top Three position of the U.S. charts. The song was included on the third iteration of F*CK LOVE, F*CK LOVE 3+: OVER YOU. The mixtape included all of the material from both previous installments and 13 new tracks. "Stay" was included on the project, as well as songs with features from Polo G, Lil Durk, G Herbo, Mustard, and Stunna Gambino. This edition topped the main album charts in Australia and the U.S., among other countries. ~ Timothy Monger