Does The Kid Laroi's "Without You" sound like Sia? Maybe, maybe not. But what's important is how Sia may have inspired its creation.
"My friend Omer came through with his guitar," The Kid Laroi explains, "and I was like, 'Play something that you think Sia would sing over.'" Before long, Omer — that's Omer Fedi, by the way, the 21-year-old guitar prodigy who's helped shape standout hits from Machine Gun Kelly and Iann Dior, and recently helped Lil Nas X conquer the world with work on "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" — strummed the chords that became "Without You."
What Fedi and The Kid Laroi accomplished on that track is notable because it's effectively a power ballad, buoyed by the 17-year-old's massive vocals. Despite the similar subject matter, it's eons away from his other tunes, like "Tragic," that lean much more into hip-hop. "Without You" was the end result of collaboration, which gives it additional power, he says.
"When I work, I like collaboration. I like hearing other people's ideas," The Kid Laroi, the MTV Push artist for April 2021, says. "Sometimes, people have good fucking ideas, man. You shouldn't be scared of that. It's making music, at the end of the day. Don't think about the shit too hard. Just do it, and if it sounds good, it sounds good. If it feels good, it feels good."
Not bad for a song that began in his home studio while "going through some shit" about a girl. That's where The Kid Laroi, real name Charlton Howard, tends to shine. He began rapping after his mom showed him Tupac's "Brenda's Got a Baby" video and he says he started taking music seriously after being exposed to Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak, his "favorite project of all time."
Over the past four years, he's made good on that early promise, touring and recording music at a fast pace. He also had some major help from Juice WRLD, who mentored him; The Kid Laroi opened for the late rapper during a string of live dates around his home of Australia. His 2020 album F*ck Love was just the beginning — last month, he sang on Justin Bieber's "Unstable," too.
It all points to a solid foundation, one he hopes can be inspiring. "Don't think about what anybody else has to say because me, personally, I went through so many kids and teachers and even family members who told me that I couldn't do it and I sucked, and I just had to stick through it," he says. "Don't let nobody get in your head."