Larry June’s “organic” rap
The San Francisco rapper Larry June promotes a healthy lifestyle through his rhymes and sets himself apart from the “culture” of lean and hard drugs.
Larry June’s Childhood
Larry June has chosen oranges as a symbol to represent and identify his music to the fullest. You won’t find any codeine, anti-depressants or hard drug references in his videos or lyrics but rather juices, smoothies and marijuana. The main objective of his music is pushing the listener to live a healthy life and furthermore thinking in a positive and “organic” way in order to better oneself and progress by enriching every aspect of one’s life. Larry Eugene Hendricks who goes by the stage name Larry June hails from Frisco. However he must not be confused with the hippy or cult – leadership types who permeated California in the 70’s.
Larry June was born in 1991 in the projects around Hunter’s Point overlooking the San Francisco Bay. His young mother wanted to take him away from this dangerous and degraded neighbourhood so she moved little Larry to Atlanta at age 4.
Therefore Larry was forced to move back and forth between Georgia and California until his early adolescence. In California he lived with his father and grandmother who was a well respected figure in the community. As a young man he moved permanently back to San Francisco where he was sometimes forced to support himself by criminal means and therefore rapidly learns the code of the streets in Hunter’s Point projects.
At the age of 20 he became a father just as he was going through the most turbulent period in his life, he was homeless and without a job. The life of crime holds risks and consequences that Larry June was no longer able to accept so he decided to find a way out through music.
Larry June’s musical influences from San Francisco to Atlanta
Growing up half way between San Francisco and Atlanta Larry June was influenced artistically by radically different music and lifestyles. Atlanta since the early 2000’s has been the Mecca for trap music, birthing artists such as Young Jeezy, T.I and Gucci Mane. This genre has well known themes and has caused waves internationally, whereas the hip hop scene in Frisco and Oakland (known as the Bay Area) has always been pretty local, self contained and original. This is due to the fact that the Bay Area has a very specific culture and history compared to the rest of the United States. On one hand it has always been at the forefront of political and cultural changes, spawning the Hippy and the Black Panthers movements. On the other hand it is a very important technological hub being near to the so- called Silicon Valley. However Oakland has some of the highest levels of poverty and crime in the country.
One of the most particular criminal phenomena arising in this geographical area is the much celebrated pimpin’ culture. In the Bay Area political activism and gangsterism have often moved hand in hand. Many famous acts such as Da Luniz, E-40, Mac Dre, Planet Asia and The Jacka come from this part of the United States. Not only the criminal and pimpin’ sub-cultures have had a great effect on the music scene: for instance Tupac Shakur began his career here with the group Digital Underground, before he changed his image in the Thug Life period. Larry June also grew up listening to a lot of soul, funk and r’n’b. Both old school funk like Bootsy Collins and new school soul such as Musiq Soulchild.
Larry June’s music career
After becoming a father at age 20 Larry June decided to turn his life around. He began by working awhile for Lyft ( a sort of Uber-type driving service) then he started his career in music. He was introduced to the rap game by friend and high school companion Og Maco, a fellow rapper from Atlanta. He subsequently recorded his first projects between 2010 and 2013 but he only began to take music seriously in 2015 when he signed a record deal with Warner Music. He released various mixtapes in the next two years such as “Goodjob Larry” (2015), “Sock It To Me”(2016) , “Larry” (2016) e “Larry Two” (2017). He started getting noticed in the game after releasing the tape “Orange Season” (2016) entirely produced by Cookin’ Soul. After being released from his deal with Warner he sets up Freeminded, an indipendent record label and brand through which he releases numerous mixtapes among which “Sock It to Me 2” (2018), ”Your Doin’ Good”(2018), “Very Peaceful”(2018), “Early Bird” (2018), “Port of San Francisco” (2019), “Trap Larry” (2019), “Out The Trunk” (2019), “Product of The Dope Game” (2019) and “Mr.Midnight” (2019) collaborating with the producer Cardo Got Wings. He has also collaborated on many occasions with Curren$y, Jay Worthy, Post Malone, Cousin Stizz and more. Thanks to this independent turning point Larry June has taken full control of his music and has greatly improved his career and widened his core audience.
Larry June’s style and “organic” message
Being influenced by very different sounds, ranging from Frisco to Atlanta, Larry June has developed an original style that is defined by a “detached” delivery that works both on classic West Coast and Bay Area type beats, bass heavy tracks influenced by funk and soul, as well as trap beats. In particular he has collaborated with a large variety of producers: from Lex Luger and Zaytoven to Cookin’ Soul and Cardo Got Wings. What sets Larry June apart from other rappers, aside from his entertaing adlibs “yeehee” and “good job Larry” (inspired, the rapper admits, by 70’s singer and bass player Bootsy Collins), is especially his “healthy” message and positive content.
House in the hills tucked off no phone reception
I just like the thrill counting up while I smoke the best
Watermelon juice riding bikes with my latest chick
I don’t do the clubs that often I got a check to get
I might take the bitch to get some food no extra shit
Take her to the crib, go crazy then I exit quick
It’s so much money on my schedule bitch I gotta dip
Bust down green juice online looking for a whip
The San Francisco rapper is adamant about letting his listeners know that although he comes from the streets and has really been through dangerous situations, there is nothing to glorify about that life.
Larry June, in contrast to many rappers who perpetuate a violent image, showing pills, class-A drugs and weapons in their videos (self snitching), wants to further a positive message which pushes the listener towards a healthier way of life by consuming high quality marijuana, organic juices and squashes. In truth, for the San Francisco rapper, being a “real man” means leaving the dangerous and paranoid street life behind while looking to progress and better one’s lifestyle, achieving goals and ambitions by investing in your own talent.