LARRY JUNE: DOING NUMBERS
The hip-hop landscape has long been dominated by extravagance, excess, and reckless spending. Whether you're an old-school enthusiast or a devotee of the new wave, the genre has been yearning for a breath of fresh air, arriving in the form of the luxuriously smooth and unapologetically authentic discography of the Bay Area’s Larry June.
Larry seamlessly weaves his San Francisco and Atlanta roots into his music, creating a catalogue that strikes the perfect balance between determination and serenity. His music is characterized by the harmonious fusion of tranquil beats and candid lyrics that delve into personal growth, self-improvement, and simply having a good time. His flow is nothing short of suave – the velvety icing on the metaphorical cake.
Larry's music offers a glimpse into the very essence of his character. Amidst the frenetic pace of the rap industry, his aura is grounded in a composure that sets him apart from his contemporaries. In addition to the valuable lessons that he shares in his songs, Larry finds inspiration in the simple things that make him happy in his daily life.
The duality of Larry June is a captivating element of his character. While many may see a larger-than-life celebrity, he remains a down-to-earth individual who continues to put in the hard work and study the art he loves so dearly. As he generously shares wisdom and guidance with his listeners, he continuously reinforces the importance of staying humble and focused on his own journey. Just as he encourages his audience to practice self-affirmation and self-belief, he applies this very principle to himself, often reminding himself with a simple but powerful mantra, "Nice job, Larry."
Beyond his music career, Larry passionately champions the importance of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. He poses himself as the healthiest rapper in the game. When he isn't immersed in the world of hip-hop, Larry's daily routine consists of bike riding, smoothie drinking, working out and reading. He wants the rap game to normalise making this type of lifestyle cool, encouraging fans to draw for the orange juice over the double cup…
In the thick of his would tour, "Larry's Market Run," we had the chance to catch up with the San Francisco hometown hero before his sold-out London show...
I feel like when everyone interviews you, they talk about the Bay, but no one really talks to you about Atlanta. You were there for 10 years, so tell me about it?
Yeah, man, I was just a kid, I don’t have too many stories about ATL. I went to elementary school there, a little bit of middle school, I was young man. You know, I played basketball, I met a lot of good friends, but otherwise I don’t have too many memories, ‘cause I was so little man.
The reason I ask is because Route 80 was produced by TM88 from Atlanta…
Yeah, that’s my neighbour, bro, he’s one of my good friends, we grew up together. Everyone thought me and him were brothers when we were kids, you know, we had the short haircut and the light skin. That’s my bro though… we’re always locked in, me and TM88.
You’ve said before that you only started taking music seriously around 2018?
Yeah, I mean, I was doing it, it was serious around 2015-16, but 2018 was when it really started popping off for me, like when I dropped my “Very Peaceful” album. That’s when people started gravitating more towards what I was doing. I was already touring before, but 2018 was when more spotlight was put onto what I was doing.
Nowadays, you’ve got the clear sound of a rapper from the Bay. Do you feel like some of your earlier sounds were more reminiscent of what was going on in Atlanta?
If you’re talking about 2014 and 2015, if you really listen to the songs, I’m actually talking about the same shit that we do in the Bay, just on trap beats. I had access to trap beats, ‘cause we got like TM88, 808Mafia fuck with me heavy, and I was doing a lot of shit with friends who were in the trap space at the time. I had to get in where I fit in, you feel me?
Larry’s Market Run has taken you here, there, and everywhere. How’s the tour been so far?
Tour’s been great, man. I’ve got to go to a few places that I’d never been to before. What’s keeping me going is the energy, and the people. When I get to a venue, and everybody’s thankful and shit, man I really look forward to this energy from everybody. Just seeing the response, making kids’ days, touching people’s hands, and you know just getting to really interact with the people outside of the internet, especially when you’re over here, you know.
I feel like you’re very much an “in person” type of person, still trying to do the CD signings, and the meet and greets.
Yeah, I wanna be able to take care of as many people as I can that support my music, because you know, it’s rare that I come over here, or tour period. So, you know what I mean, it’s cool that if I see you, I can sign something for you, or take a picture with you, or get to hear your input on what song you like the most, or what album you like the most. It’s cool to hear it in the flesh, you know what I’m saying.
I feel like your success has been a long time coming. You’ve been producing and making music for a long time. How does it feel now that you’re really seeing the fruits of your labour?
It feels good, man, but for me, I’m still kicking those doors down. I’m still the artist that the industry don’t wanna fully accept yet, you know what I mean? So, I gotta go the extra long way to show you I am, and let my numbers speak for themselves. I still feel like I’m still really building… I’m right there but I gotta get over that hump, so I’m still putting that work in everyday ‘cause there’s still a way for me to go. So, I’m just taking each day as it comes, getting my stuff done, and… whatever happens, happens…
You’re no stranger to collabs. You’ve got a lot of dope features on a lot of your albums. The recent single with Knucks and Kenny Beats… Am I right in saying that’s your first collab with someone outside of America?
That’s a good question… I think so… That’s the first one. I’ve done so many songs man, it’s hard to keep track, but that’s the first one… London for sure. I’ve never worked with nobody from out here, but I love the music scene out here.
Who are you listening to right now?
As of now, I’m not listening to too much of nothing… I’ve just been so overwhelmed with music, so when I get time to just have some quiet, I just sit there listening to ocean sounds. Or I’m listening to my own songs, so I can remember them on stage. Otherwise, I fuck with the Alchemist, he’s fire. Been fucking with a lot of Dilla, Le$, Curren$y, Earl, Webbie, Common, Blxst, and 50 Cent. What I’ll do is play an Alchemist song, or whatever, on YouTube, and listen to the random songs that follow. You never know everyone, but you find a lot of dope shit. If I like it, I’ll save it. I fuck with Knucks, too man. And a singer called Nippa, he’s dope, he’s got a good style, man. He came to Cali to fuck with me too. I fuck with Headie One, Central Cee, Dave, Skepta, Nines… Y’all are killing it… I love to cruise around too so I’ll hop into one of my whips, and I’ll just play shit. Shit will be coming on, and I’ll be like “damn, bro be spitting”. Whatever I can vibe and clean up my room to as well, or like straighten up my room on the bus to, that’s what I’m playing. I don’t care who it is. I’m just a fan of good music, man.
Do you think that’s why the features do so well then?
Yeah, I just make music with who I fuck with. It could be from older artists to newer artists. Even if a bigger artist sent me a song that I’m just not really rocking with, I just won’t even record it. Not out of disrespect or anything, I just wanna make good music… maybe that song was better with you by yourself, you know what I’m saying? When I heard the song Knucks sent over, I thought this is dope as hell, and for a minute, I thought it was so good that it didn’t need me, but he was like ‘nah, man just do you’ so I said aight. So what I’mma do is just make a whole separate song. We mixed them both together, and that was a real collaboration. I put my sauce on there, you put your sauce on there, we’re making a whole platter.
"...there are so many artists in the rap game, you wanna stay original. The best way to stay original, is by perfecting what you do, and understanding why people like you."
Do you still live in the Bay?
I still live in the Bay, yup, still in San Francisco. I’ve got a couple houses out there, and one of my main houses is right by the water, right by the Golden Gate Bridge. Nobody hangs out over there… I be like the only black person there, just cruising. People look out like who the fuck is this guy? A basketball player? You know what I’m saying? I like it there, man, it’s peaceful.
There are a lot of dope rappers that have come out of the Bay.
For sure man, to this day, a lot of sauce has come out the Bay. I feel like, as an area, for a long time, we’ve been overlooked. You know in the same way London’s been having talent. I feel like we haven’t had that full break yet. But you know, I’m pushing that line.
Has the Bay had a lot of influence on your music? Were you listening to music from the Bay when you were growing up there?
Yeah, I was listening to a lot of Jacka, Messy Marv, Guce, E-40, and Richie Rich. To the younger artists, to the Young Curt’s, to the Young Bari’s, to Wolfpack, you know we got a lot of sauce. I just love music.
So, you’ve got a new album, on the way. Another one. I’ve lost count of what number we’re at now.
Another one on the way, I don’t even know either, I just be dropping them. Me and Cardo got one on the way called the Night Shift. We just finished up with that one. We got a few projects, me and Cardo, but this is gonna be a big one right here, we shot a few videos for it. With me and Cardo, it’s just easy, we just knock out shit quick. We got a style, we stick to it, and keep going. One thing I like about being an artist. I experiment, and I do shit with other producers… all kinds of shit. But I also remember what people love me for, and always go back to that. In the midst of experimenting, you always gotta give them the sauce that they came for in the first place.
During COVID, you dropped I think 4 albums in one year. The thing with your albums, is that they all sound like you, but you manage to make each one sound different. To me, when artists start to put out so much music, it feels like they start to put out for the sake of it. As the output goes up, the quality goes down. How do you manage to maintain such high output, and such consistent quality?
I really do take a lot of time on one song. I feel like a lot of people forget to study their own craft, but you’ve gotta perfect your shit. So, in the pandemic, I didn’t listen to nothing but myself. Not on no cocky shit, but in the way that, I’m giving something to the world, and they’re gravitating towards it. What can I do to perfect it? Y’all have already given me the blueprint, saying ok we fuck with you Larry. Y’all like this? Ok, let me take this, and make it ten times better for y’all. Also, there are so many artists in the rap game, you wanna stay original. The best way to stay original, is by perfecting what you do, and understanding why people like you. Because you don’t get many opportunities for people to like your shit, especially when there’s a million rappers out there. So, focus on what people like, and better it. So that’s what I did in the pandemic. I studied my sound, experimented, and practiced. I recorded all the music myself, every song. I tried things, and I practiced them over and over again until I made them sound good. If you hear me singing a hook, I probably tried it like 50 times, and I was practicing that shit, because I don’t know how to sing. So I had to teach myself how to hit certain notes. I’d do like half the song, or a verse or the intro, and then I’d go to sleep, or I’d go ride my bike for a bit, and then I’d come back and hear it, and identify little bits that sound good. I’d add and cut bits, so I’m slowly building every day on that one song. But I’m doing it every day. When you stay consistent, you’re gonna get it done. I’m recording three hours a day, but I’m not sitting around smoking weed and messing with women in the studio, I’m actually making the music. I do what I gotta do. Even if it’s weak, I just do it, and then I’ll come back to it, and I’ll be like I know what I gotta do now. That’s how I did it…
I feel like you take a lot of time to experience life as well, to have something to talk about too.
Exactly! People sit in the studio too long. You gotta go outside, get you some food, go drive around. During the pandemic it was empty, so you know I was just sliding through. I’d go get me a hotel once the rooms were open, fuck around, grab some shit, do some push ups, play with my son, buy some shoes, you know what I’m saying?
Even in the pandemic, with so much time to yourself, did you consistently limit yourself to only 3 hours in the studio?
Yeah, man, and even before the pandemic. I’m a full-time father as well. It’s just me and my son. I wake up at 5 in the morning, record until like 7:30, then make his lunch and take him to school for 8:30. I’ll come back home, and I record for 2 more hours. So, I was doing that every day that for 365 days. And then after that, by like 9-10am, I’ve got the whole day. I treat the rap game like the trap game. Buss my move early, stay out the way, and then for the rest of my day I do regular shit, you know what I’m saying? I don’t wanna look at a laptop that long. You gotta be a real genius to wanna look at a computer for 24 hours, man. That’s why I don’t do features that much. People gotta realise, I only record a little bit, so if I dedicate 2 hours of my day recording for you, then you’ve gotta be special, it’s gotta be a great song. I don’t love the rap game like that. You know, I love making music, but I don’t need to be in the studio 24/7, I don’t need to be in front of cameras 24/7, or at every party meeting hella people, I just do me. And that’s probably why I’m not that big yet. It is what it is man, I’m just me.
I be having social anxiety, I’m pretty shy in front of hella people. That’s why being the studio suits me, because my best work comes from me being by myself. Everybody got their formula man.
Well, being a dad must’ve helped with that – you had your son pretty young, right?
Yeah, so I was trying to figure stuff out. I was risking a lot, you know? I was in the streets. I been getting money for a long time, but when I had my son, I figured I was all he got, so what would he do if something happened to me? I can’t leave him here by himself. That makes you change your whole way of thinking, so this music gotta work. I’m finna record every day for three hours. And if y’all like this shit, then Imma just keep going, keep doing what I’m doing…
Tell me how you spent that $20,000 cheque from Warner Bro’s in one day?
In 2012, I started collecting BMW’s. The Warner Bro’s cheque wasn’t really a life changing thing, but I figured once I signed for them, I’d be on the radio, and become famous and shit… I didn’t know the game, clearly. So, they gave me 20 bands, and I just bought some rims for one of my cars with it. I just thought I’d put some forgis on there real quick… but that was a real learning experience for me.
Now you’ve got the clothing brand, the juice shop, real entrepreneur. Talk me through it.
Yeah, man, got the juice shop. Got multiple properties now. Brand doing good. I’m just thankful man, but I’m still just building, there are still more avenues. I haven’t even started. I didn’t start getting real legit money until 2019, ‘cause I haven’t ever had a job before. So, I’m super thankful. That’s why I try to be so smart with the decisions I make with my money, because there were times where I didn’t have an official way to get it. So now it’s like, lemme invest it into this, lemme start up this venture, anything pushing it for my kid. ‘Cause you never know. Like I ain’t dependent on this shit, but I gotta keep rapping, you know?
And you’re still trying to teach people with your music, still trying to show them the way…
Yeah, and it’s crazy ‘cause I be teaching people, but I’m also preaching to myself in my music. ‘Cause there are a lot of people who might be going through some of the shit that I was or am going through. Like I be on a song, talking bout get a house before you got a car. I got a car first, but I’m telling people what I’ve learnt from my mistakes. I did it the wrong way, maybe you should do it the right way. But a lot of the time I’m preaching to myself, like when I say, “go hard, get yo’ cheese”, I’m talking to myself, like keep going Larry.
You’ve always rapped about these things, but now that you’ve got a bigger following, do you feel a pressure to keep it real with your fans?
Listen, man, I’m still in the trenches. I’m successful to a degree but there’s still so much we’re tryna do. We wanna build generational wealth, for the community. There’s so much more to this. This whole tour is an investment. I gotta take care of the team before I take care of myself, so we can do this again. Because I gotta come give the people here an awareness of what we’re doing. We did a show to 500 kids that would’ve otherwise never seen me. And they couldn’t believe I was there, and that keeps me going. And it’s not the same doing it online, you wanna build something real, a solid foundation. So, I’m gonna put in the groundwork, I’m gonna invest my own money, and we’re gonna see what happens. Nobody’s gonna believe in you until you believe in yourself. So that’s what I do… I ain’t stopping for nobody.
Are you looking forward to the show tomorrow?
Yeah man, I love London. Y’all changed my perspective on the whole touring overseas thing. When I saw the first London show, I was like, oh my god. I almost fainted. Singing the lyrics, the energy, when I walked in the room, it was like I knew everybody in the crowd… y’all like my family. Super thankful. Numbers baby.