This weekend Sydney teen rapper The Kid Laroi will take the stage on American TV sketch show Saturday Night Live alongside pop icon Miley Cyrus and tech billionaire Elon Musk.
There’s an improbable sentence if you’ve ever read one.
But it’s perhaps the purest expression yet of the bizarre trajectory the 17-year-old’s charted from a pre-teen dreamer in Sydney’s Waterloo to global hiphop superstar since last year’s breakthrough release, F— Love.
Perhaps even more outlandish is the fact Cyrus – despite being the episode’s official music guest – is playing second fiddle. She will perform on a remix of The Kid Laroi’s song Without You, a pained ballad whose viral video features the pair cavorting by a bonfire and a Mack truck, leading YouTube commenters to suggest they were dating despite their 11-year age gap.
In recent months The Kid Laroi, real name Charlton Howard, has already performed the track on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen Degeneres Show. It’s currently at #1 on the ARIA singles chart (remarkably marking Cyrus’ first ever #1 ARIA single) and at #23 on the US Billboard Hot 100. But as Lady Gaga’s A Star is Born infamously showed us, performing on SNL indicates another cultural stratosphere altogether.
Even before his SNL debut, Howard’s superstar status has already been cemented. In March, he made a guest appearance on Justin Bieber’s latest chart-dominating album Justice, on the gloomy track Unstable. In recent weeks his Instagram has been peppered with pictures of his new life in studios, on basketball courts, on ski lifts with Cyrus, Bieber and Instagram models.
If it’s all a bit surreal, it’s not entirely unexpected.
Mike Etheridge – breakfast host and content director of ARN’s The Edge 96.1FM, a Western Sydney-based radio station which specialises in hiphop and R&B and were early supporters of The Kid Laroi’s career – says the world-claiming potential was always there.