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Artist - Trial Version

How The Kid Laroi Made the Most Popular Song in the World Without Even Trying

“You work here? It’s like a school,” says Charlton Kenneth Jeffrey Howard as he wanders in Manhattan. The 18-year-old is young enough to know. Just five years ago, he was using his mom’s iPhone back home in Australia to record verses, which he would post onto SoundCloud and Facebook. Today, Howard has over 60 million loyal listeners on Spotify—more than BTS or Kanye West—the most popular song in the world, and a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

He first knew he had made it when, two years ago, he received a surprise Instagram DM. The message was from Justin Bieber.

“He said, ‘You got the sauce,’” says Howard, better known as the Kid Laroi, scrolling through his phone to show me the exchange. He pulled his stage name from the Kamilaroi people: His mother is of Indigenous descent. At 14, he was crowned one of the country’s best high school artists on a competition show called Unearthed High. A record deal followed, which put him in a position to catch the attention of a certain Canadian megastar.

The next time he heard from Bieber, Laroi was in the shower. Intuitively, he jumped out to answer the FaceTime call, still sopping wet. That led to a series of collaborations, including “Unstable,” which appeared on Bieber’s 2021 album, Justice, and the Kid Laroi’s own “Stay,” which became the biggest pop song in the world.

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