‘Kids Are Growing Up: A Story About A Kid Named LAROI’ review: the Australian hip-hop superstar ponders the price of fame

‘Kids Are Growing Up: A Story About A Kid Named LAROI’ review: the Australian hip-hop superstar ponders the price of fame

In a rare interview with NME back in 2020, The Kid LAROI (real name Charlton Howard) declared his ambition to be “the Drake of Australia”. A new documentary on Prime Video chronicles how LAROI made that happen over the course of four years while revealing the personal struggles the Kamilaroi rapper/singer, now 20, went through.

READ MORE: The Kid Laroi – ‘The First Time’ review: rapper reflects on his rapid rise

Early in Kids Are Growing Up, LAROI suggests that the best way to know him is to listen to his music – and, in fact, the documentary is a companion to last year’s long-anticipated debut album, ‘The First Time’, which closes with the resonant ‘Kids Are Growing Up’. The First Nations superstar mostly writes about emotions rather than exploring his identity. Departing from his broody lyrics, the film, though impressionistic, captures LAROI’s innate charm and humour in interactions with peers and fans alike.

Kids Are Growing Up begins with footage of LAROI as a child prodigy freestyling from a car, only to fumble midway, laughing that he’s “fucked up”. Authenticity is crucial in hip-hop – it’s why Eminem conceived 2002’s quasi-biopic 8 Mile – and here LAROI lets us in. The rapper opens up about dealing with the trauma of witnessing his mentor Juice WRLD’s shock passing from an accidental overdose, industry pressures, celebrity, depression and romantic upheaval, all as he comes of age.

LAROI, who was raised by single mum Sloane Howard, even introduces absent dad Nick Howard, who had a career as a failed pop idol. It illuminates LAROI’s own anxieties about fleeting fame and is a telling narrative choice given unjustified hip-hop conspiracies about LAROI being an industry plant.

Yet Kids Are Growing Up leaves out much of LAROI’s roots in, and emergence from, the Sydney inner-suburb of Waterloo. LAROI has personally pre-empted expectations of a comprehensive history, or a raw portrait à la No Jumper’s 2019 vlog, writing on Instagram that this “isn’t a documentary that’s necessarily focused on the whole come up story”.

It’s still disappointing that Kids Are Growing Up views LAROI through a narrow American lens. It’s directed by Hollywood director/producer and “content” entrepreneur Michael D. Ratner, best known for Justin Bieber: Our World. Of the talking heads, LAROI’s current American team dominate – even Post Malone gives a testimonial. Absent are longtime Australian associates like the Western Sydney trailblazer BLESSED, who produced LAROI’s ‘14 With A Dream’ EP. The media-shy LAROI is interviewed by Aussie radio “shock jock” Kyle Sandilands, but there’s no mention of how the influential blog AUD’$ first championed him.

Still, Kids Are Growing Up is beautifully shot (the use of Devin Flynn’s animation throughout is inspired). LAROI is often filmed rushing through backstage spaces or travelling in private planes or limos, underscoring a transitory life. There are many intimate moments. Having purchased a Los Angeles mansion before his 18th birthday, LAROI thrashes around freely in the pool with brother Austin. Similarly we see LAROI’s easy camaraderie with his ‘Stay’ collaborator Justin Bieber. A Best New Artist nominee at the Grammy Awards, the frequently topless LAROI is (reluctantly) styled for the red carpet. Some scenes have a particular pathos – the camera zooming in on a cereal bowl, crawling with ants.

Kids Are Growing Up could have ended with LAROI’s triumphant Australian homecoming tour in May 2022 – the dynamo selling out two nights at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena (though the film doesn’t show him performing alongside Western Sydney drillers OneFour). Wryly describing himself as “a tourist”, LAROI visits old neighbourhood haunts, reminiscing about his childhood friend Saik who died trainsurfing. But the film lands on Coachella 2023 as a coda, the crowds in Indio demanding that he drop an album.

Ultimately, Kids Are Growing Up serves as a meditation on happiness. LAROI’s rise surely lends itself to pop mythmaking, his own maturity evident as he philosophises. And this production delivers more of a look into LAROI’s life than any traditional press kit could. But it still feels fragmentary, LAROI ever the “lost teenager” in his own tale.


Director: Michael D. Ratner
Starring: The Kid LAROI
Release date: February 29 (on Prime Video)

The post ‘Kids Are Growing Up: A Story About A Kid Named LAROI’ review: the Australian hip-hop superstar ponders the price of fame appeared first on NME.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous post Drake Shared Some Touching Words In Honor Of Two Fans Who Died While Leaving His St. Louis Concert
Next post Boy Group VAV Have Officially Left Ateam Entertainment

Goto Top