In The Kid Laroi ‘s debut album, The First Time, the Australian-born artist takes listeners on a reflective journey, prompting them to ponder their own “first times.” The 20-year-old rapper, born Charlton Howard, explores themes of love, loss, and the challenges that accompany rapid success.
The album is marked by a recurring question, “do you remember the first time when…?” This question, though intentionally vague, serves as the album’s core, prompting introspection and inviting listeners to delve into their own memories. Laroi incorporates personal anecdotes, including a spoken word snippet from Justin Bieber and reflections from his brother, creating a mosaic of experiences that shaped his life.
However, The First Time primarily operates as a break-up album, delving into the toxic aftermath of a relationship. Laroi’s lyrics are filled with bitterness and spite, expressing resentment and frustration. The album spans 20 tracks, maintaining a relentless focus on heartbreak and fame. This is surprising given Laroi’s previous disavowal of the 2021 project, Fuck Love 3, as “immature” and a “heat of the moment statement.”
Despite the thematic choices, the album is undeniably well-crafted. Laroi skillfully navigates the realms of on-trend pop-rap with elements of grit. Tracks like “What Just Happened” and “Love Again” showcase a fusion of pop and rock influences, reminiscent of Dominic Fike. Collaborations, including the mega-hit “Too Much” featuring BTS’s Jung Kook and Central Cee, demonstrate Laroi’s versatility.
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The album’s final track, “Kids Are Growing Up,” marks a departure from the predominant themes, offering a glimpse into Laroi’s journey from a rap enthusiast to a global star. He reflects on the toll his success has taken on his family and acknowledges the challenges of adulthood. It feels like an emotional breakthrough for Laroi, providing a nuanced perspective beyond heartbreak and fame.
In conclusion, The First Time presents glimpses of Laroi’s greatness, showcasing his musical prowess and versatility. However, the album’s relentless focus on heartbreak may leave some listeners yearning for a more varied narrative. Laroi’s emotional breakthrough in the final track adds depth but arrives a bit too late to offer a balanced reflection on his rapid rise.