Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

The Kid Laroi – Without You

And now the other shoe drops…


Crystal Leww: The Kid Laroi was a mentee of the late Juice WRLD, and sonically the comparisons make sense with the sing rapping that feel just as much like pop punk as they do hip hop. But Kid Laroi is not nearly as intentionally funny as his mentor — “Without You” is somber and serious in tone but the kids have understandably latched onto the humorous disconnect with a line as ridiculous as “Can’t make a wife out of a ho” set over an acoustic guitar. I’m not convinced that Kid Laroi was fully in on the joke when he made it… like bruh, do you really think that you made some poetry? 

Alfred Soto: “I can’t make a wife out of a ho” — now, is that nice?

Tobi Tella: When Juice did this it felt like reparations in a weird way; young black men reclaiming a genre and style that has always been steeped in whiteness. Kid Laroi has a god-given right to be a sadboi just like anyone else, but this is less emo and more pathetic, from the intensely forgettable instrumental to whatever the hell is going on with his perspective, giving us the inherent cringe of a dramatic breakup song with an equal amount of delusion. He can’t find the right words to say I’m sorry, but thank GOD he was able to craft and articulate the words to call her a big fat salacious slutty whore. The fact that he’s not just biting and was actually collaborators with Juice honestly makes it way worse; I never liked “Lucid Dreams,” but it’s almost comical how completely superior that song is. My worst fear is this cycle will continue and by 2024 this dude will be the Mr. Miyagi to some guy with even less life behind the eyes on one chord of guitar, a trap beat, and 3 straight minutes of misogyny.

Dorian Sinclair: Some guys think misogynist posturing and bad vocal technique are effective ways of communicating emotional vulnerability: they are not.

Jonathan Bradley: The Kid Laroi casts himself very much in the mould of his former mentor Juice WRLD, though the similarities the two share highlight Laroi’s weaknesses — or perhaps what made Juice WRLD such an arresting presence during his short life. Much of Laroi’s work so far sounds like Juice without the terrible charisma, the ability to make his internal anguish burn discomfitingly when given voice. The co-sign took Laroi to Los Angeles from the Sydney suburb of Waterloo, but his early material suggests that Juice WRLD’s melodic emo-rap — sunk into feelings and synth oceans — was a realm Laroi had already been exploring; the tutelage introduced him to a wider audience and sharpened his ideas. “Without You” stands out from his earlier tracks; Laroi’s wail and plain acoustic guitar strumming could almost belong to the plethora of earnest Oz-rock alternative acts that crowded festivals here in the late ’90s and early ’00s. The problem is that a lot of those acts were also rather uninspiring, and “Without You” is exactly the sort of track ordinary enough to have hit number 72 in the 1999 Triple J Hottest 100. If Laroi isn’t yet worth getting excited about, he has bursts of intensity and the occasional deft hook; I hope he might grow into someone more compelling.

Iain Mew: The bare “Wonderwall” strumming and “you cut out a piece of me and now I bleed internally” is such a perfect piece of emotional theatre, such a moment of “look at me I am literally dying of pain” that it’s both self-parody and renders the very idea meaningless. There is nowhere else to go from there, and he doesn’t. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: It feels like we’ve covered 900 of these songs before — crooned, guitar-led pseudo-rap on painful love. They always get roughly the same reception here, 6-8 blurbs worth of tepid dislike. This is the one that finally broke through with me. It’s not any better than the average song in this genre, but it makes its lyrical argument in such obvious terms that I finally realize what’s so particularly annoying about these songs. It’s not the misogyny — you can find that in any number of places, including in genres we typically like! It’s the complete lack of skill that these guys have at emotional communication. They think that merely listing the love (“Really wish that we, could have got this right”) and hate (“Can’t make a wife out of a ho”, which is sung so inartfully that it almost makes the song into comedy rap) of a love-hate relationship is enough to evoke emotion. It’s true, of course, that the kind of teenage angst that this guy sings about is often not very artful in itself. But even when I was a teenager I needed something that elevated my feelings, made it into some tragedy larger than life. This just wallows.

Thomas Inskeep: Oh look, it’s yet another little emo boy who’s a member of the He-Man Women Haters Club, quasi-rapping over an acoustic guitar. How groundbreaking.

Edward Okulicz: Do you remember about 15 years ago, there was a trend of “serious” artists deciding that it was a good idea to do guitar (authentic!) covers of distinctly rap/hip hop (populist!) songs? I apologise for reminding you that The Vines once covered “Ms. Jackson,” but it happened. “Without You” confuses me endlessly by sounding like it could have been either the before or the after in such a process. The Kid Laroi has a serious way with the kind of emotional gut-punch hook I feel awful for feeling. But it’s still just an ugly sulk lacking in nuance and abounding in some ill-advised lyrics.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: A shame that the production repeatedly chickens out on going grandiose because The Kid Laroi’s voice really isn’t able to carry this, even despite the whines and slight quavering. This mutedness could’ve been interesting, capturing this whole “boy who’s afraid to express his feelings” vibe, but this isn’t a song that really wants to be anything more than the signifiers that arise from the lonesome strum of a guitar.

Reader average: [3.28] (7 votes)

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2 Responses to “The Kid Laroi – Without You”

  1. can only imagine how “So Done” would’ve scored here

  2. That He Man Women Haters Club link seems bad?