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Album Review: The Kid LAROI - 'The First Time'

10 November 2023 | 9:46 am | Claire Dunton

The Kid LAROI's debut album is a fever dream of angst, heartbreak and 90s vibes.


The Kid LAROI ('The First Time' album cover)

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Australian rapper, singer and songwriter The Kid LAROI has released his highly anticipated debut album, THE FIRST TIME. While purists may contest that the F*ck Love trilogy was the artist's debut, THE FIRST TIME is his first full-length album release offering a 20-track journey with Jungkook, Central Cee, Future, Robert Glasper and D4VD collaborating. 

TOO MUCH was the first track released in October ahead of the THE FIRST TIME album release, and it did not disappoint. It’s the first time that The Kid LAROI has collaborated with Jungkook and Central Cee, and it’s a powerful trio. LAROI and Jungkook contribute a thoughtful, well-paced track, and Central Cee injects electricity and pace.

Given it’s The Kid LAROI’s first album, we expected it to be a distilled collection of the artist's trademark high emotion and oftentimes toxic lyrics and vibe, but tracks YOU and NIGHTS LIKE THIS are a sharp change from what we have seen from The Kid LAROI so far, and perhaps a hint at what is to come in his already storied career.

The second track of the album, BLEED, is a slower number, falling firmly in the pop category and could be a chart-topper. The song explores breakups, and the speed with which we move on and demonstrates Kid LAROI’s ability to release a wide range of pace in his music, and the masterful video that accompanies BLEED captures the raw pain of the song.

Fans who found The Kid LAROI through Justin Bieber and their collaborative track Stay will be excited to hear that Omer Fedi and Blake Slatkin, who worked on Stay, have writing credits on THE FIRST TIME. The tracks include BLEED, TOO MUCH, CALL ME INSTEAD, THE LINE, WHAT JUST HAPPENED, YOU, and LOVE AGAIN.

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There are multiple credits for tracks across the album, but none closer to home than the Australian production duo FNZ, who worked on SORRY, WHERE DO YOU SLEEP, WHAT’S THE MOVE, DESERVE YOU, NO ESCAPE and WHERE DOES YOUR SPIRIT GO.

At only 20 years old, The Kid LAROI has had incredible success and opportunity, having collaborated with Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Machine Gun Kelly by the time he was 19 years old. And yet, he feels and sounds like a real, honest talent that you can’t help but back as an Australian. 

It feels as though Kid LAROI has earned the right to release cryptic-titled tracks that suggest a deeper, more complicated motivation for his songs. But the truth is, his track titles read like an angsty teen or earnest artist, looking only to connect rather than exclude, which has earned the artist a fanbase that goes beyond genre.

The Kid LAROI says that the album aesthetics, themes and cover art were inspired by the 90s film KIDS, which, at the time, The New York Times described as "Lord of the Flies with skateboards, nitrous oxide and hip-hop.” In true Gen Z fashion, the artist has perfectly executed the ever-popular 90s aesthetic.

The First Time is out now via Sony Music Australia.