Over Actavis-drenched production disrupted by industrial sounds, Chicago-born and Miami-based rapper and producer Smokepurpp urgently delivers each bar and hook like the world might end in the next second—but he’s clearly not worried about it. It’s that attitude which quietly elevated him to the forefront of modern hip-hop. At 15-years-old, he taught himself how to produce on FL Studio, because he “didn’t have a microphone yet.” Introduced to Lil Pump, he eventually began recording his own raps, drawing inspiration from the likes of Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Sonny Digital, Clams Casino, and more. Established as an outlier in the burgeoning Florida scene, he leapt from the tripped-out, automatic weapon-toting visuals of 2015’s “Ski Mask”—which clocked over 3 million YouTube views—to landing in features by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pigeons & Planes, XXL, Mass Appeal, and many more. Between tours with Lil Peep, Fat Nick, and his Gucci Gang brother Lil Pump, he inked a deal with Alamo Records. Following anthems like “Glock In My Benz,” 2017 saw “Audi.” astonishingly generate 14.1 million-plus Spotify streams and 9.4 million YouTube views in under two months’ time. Impressively, he accomplished all of this before the release of 2017’s debut project, Deadstar. The single “Streets Love Me” [feat. Juicy J] illuminates his talents on the mic and behind-the-board and introduces the project with a big bang.
You may recognize him from the “Good Job, Larry!” shoutout in a track or simply by his trademark orange—both color and fruit. Either way, it’s safe to assume that Larry June, born Larry Hendricks, is the most colorful and unique rapper out right now spreading an authentic message of health and positivity.
Born April 8, 1991, in San Francisco to a musical family, Larry cites his cousin, a young rapper signed to Too Short, as the primary reason he went into music. June made his first beat around age 7 and 8 and released his first mixtape when he was 16 without any formal training, instead explaining that he “just got into rapping.” The San Francisco native also calls Atlanta home, citing the two cities’s variety of sounds, tempos, coasts and cultures as crucial to his music.
Evident from his clever and musical ad libbing, the rapper gains most of his inspiration from Bootsy Collins, James Brown, and Michael Jackson. Much like these artists, June uses his voice as a musical agent, or, as he puts it, “I look at ad libs as the instrument with the beat.” He often freestyles adding to the witty charm obvious in his tracks and the fervent energy with a slowed-down groove element akin to the 70s soul music June listens to everyday—complete with a photo of Lionel Richie on his refrigerator.
Inside his fridge, however, must be a plethora of oranges as the rapper is known for his iconic health advice and benefits of Vitamin C. The color is reminiscent of the 70s aesthetic and sound June seeks in his music and the health benefits of the fruit propagate his message of being good: “You got an orange, you’re doing good.” This playful element is reiterated in June’s visual work and complementary material, such as the iOS game Orange Season accompanying his EP of the same name. June has plans to create a new, more impactful game in the future hinting at a possible collaboration.
While June comes across as clever and humorous in his freestyles and symbolisms, his flow is nowhere near lighthearted territory. June displays an impressive command of his flows, never breaking his characteristic monotone delivery and easily spits out messages of life’s complexities and nuances without missing a beat. After touring with Post Malone, who discovered him on Twitter with the internet buzzing around June’s music, and tours with Asher Roth under his belt, the rapper secured a deal with Warner Bros. and is expected to release his new EP You’re Doing Good.
The EP marks a departure from his previous EPs Larry and Orange Season with its experimental component in the production. “I experimented with a lot of different sounds and wanted to try something with it. The flows didn’t really change, it’s just the beats that changed,” says the rapper. The album came from a desire to create and maintain a positive outlook: “At the time, I wasn’t feeling too good so I wanted to change to a positive perspective—you’re doing good because you are good,” says June. He attributes the music to what his state of mind was at the time and this attempt to try every type of sound—hence the experimental aspect of You’re Doing Good.
Indeed, You’re Doing Good is heavily inspiring from the 80s influenced “Too Live Crew” to the more soul-inspired, bedroom jams “Throw Sum” and “Fall in Love”. Each track is both stylistically and content-wise a bit different, but maintains that characteristic Larry June ethos. Of his top 3 tracks, June chooses “So Organic”, “Too Live Crew”, and “Tell Me You Love Me” for their distinct moods—the “best moods” for songs and some degree of relatability for everyone according to the rapper.
June continues the heat, health, and determination going for 2018—completely deserving of the “Good Job, Larry” motivation.