Exclusives Interviews 26 April 2023

GRM Exclusive: Larry June Talks New Album ‘The Great Escape’, Working with UK Artists & More

26 April 2023

In an age where manifestations and positive thinking has become the go-to wave for creative thinkers to dive head-first into their goals, Larry June asserts himself as someone who has been making it look all too easy for quite some time. Throughout the many trends and sounds that have been experimented with in rap music for the past decade – one thing has been made clear; there aren’t many artists out there doing it like Larry June.

From lyrics that promote healthy habits and an organic lifestyle to samples that feel like a sun-kissed soundtrack on a breezy day, Larry’s unique sound has gifted him a loyal fanbase, impressive discography and business-driven mindset which has paved the way for his reputation as an artist who effortlessly delivers a first-class experience with his tracks.

Growing up between Atlanta and San Francisco, it’s clear that the Bay Area artist embodies qualities from both cities that have helped him portray his experiences and hustler mindset within his craft. After selling out his very first UK show during his first time in London last year, Larry is back as he promotes his latest project and joint album with legendary producer The Alchemist titled The Great Escape, featuring 15 tracks that ooze luxury and a breath of fresh air, with star-studded features from Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Joey Bada$$, Ty Dolla $ign and more. 

We caught up with Larry ahead of his sold-out London show in April to delve into the process of making his latest project, his journey in music so far and everything in between.

Firstly, welcome back to London! How did it feel to finally connect with your UK fans last year & what was the reception like?

“My first time coming down here and seeing the response, it was crazy. They showed me a lot of love so it was dope.”

So, your mindset is a huge part of your brand – you’ve previously shared a saying that I truly live by; ‘your entire life can change in a year’ – what qualities do you feel like you need to have to be able to make those changes?

“You gotta believe, be consistent, but firstly you gotta have a passion. So, you find that passion and stick with it, you know, never quit and don’t be discouraged.”

Going off of that, which year for you do you feel like was your most life-changing? Was there a project in particular that you can pin to that time in your life?

“Yup, 2018 – I dropped a project called Very Peaceful and that year, when I dropped that project, I was recording, pulling up with my people, selling CDs, and yeah my whole situation changed, so by 2019 I felt like I was doing better.”

Typically, artists have a point where they decide to start investing all of their time into their craft and really grind – what was it for you that made you reach that point?

“I just wanted to change my life man and do something positive. You know, be the best father I can be and have a better life.”

I feel like with moving around a lot when you’re young, you definitely become a product of all of those environments – what would you say are your biggest Atlanta and San Francisco influences?

“I feel like in ATL I learnt the grind, that entrepreneur shit like raking leaves, washing cars, selling candy and shit because all my friends did it and we kinda all did it. Musically, it was a different sound of music so like trap music, I was watching the evolution of that. Then when I moved back to San Francisco there was a different sound as well, so I was having to collide both of my sounds, listened to so many different kinds of music, went to different schools so I feel like it helped my sound.”

Taking it back to 2020, that was a huge year for you – you dropped six projects back to back. What was it that really inspired you during that time to make so much music?

“So, really what happened was, going back to that time I told you I wanted to change my life, so in 2019 I saw that was really possible because the money started coming in. So, when it started coming in I was like ‘ok I need to go over mode’ and I wanted to make sure it stuck so I went hard and I was just recording everyday, it wasn’t no crazy end goal, I just knew I wanted to make money, so it was like ‘fuck it, let’s go right now’ and kept it rolling.

“I just focused on the music and that’s when I became a single father to my son, so it was me and him, so I was like ‘fuck it, you go to school, I’ll just record all day’ and that changed everything. So, I came with a routine and I was doing it daily but once I got bigger, things had to get done differently, I had to switch it up. So, around 2021, like three years later, I finally got management and shit like that and we just took it to the next level.”

Now with your new album The Great Escape, you obviously worked with The Alchemist on it and you’ve got some big features on there as well – did you know exactly how you wanted it to sound when you started making it?

“I did – as soon as I heard the beats, I wanted it to be like luxury music type shit, you could vibe at home to, drink some tea, yeah I wanted it to be something not too different but a vibe. Like the whole shit, it wasn’t like trying to turn up on this song, you can just press play and just play the whole thing like a movie or soundtrack.

“That’s how I wanted it [to sound] and it took a while, I was actually recording Orange Print (2021) and Spaceships On The Blade (2022) in between, so I was working on like two or three projects, so I was doing like a little bit here and here. I used one of the songs off the album Spaceships On The Blade called “Breakfast In Monaco” – just to see if people liked the sound and they gravitated towards it so I was like ‘ok cool’ and kept it rocking.”

A lot of the lyrics in this new album are staying on that theme of positivity, manifestation and that whole idea that you can achieve what you want – with being a parent, do you ever have your son in mind when you write certain lyrics, especially when they’re motivational?

“I do man, I used to not, but I do. Just to make sure I’m putting out a positive message, even when I talk my shit, I wanna make sure I’m putting out a positive message and I also feel like you putting out the energy in the world that will come back to you, so I ain’t gotta worry about people attacking me. And so I think it resonates with me a lot too because that’s what I’m trying to do and I feel like it’s a lot of people who are trying to do the same as well, so, I just make sure I’m putting out that positive energy. But ima still talk my shit though.”

People always say you’re great to listen to outside of music too, in terms of the gems you drop – if you could take it back to when you were 15 when you dropped your first mixtape, what advice would you give 15-year-old Larry knowing what you know now?

“Do what you feel is dope. I had a lot of people in my ear telling me what my shit sound like and it was making me go to sound like other people. ‘You should make music like this for this person’ like, but you gotta do what you feel is dope. It might sound weird but that’s what you meant to do. Because I go back to that song when I was 15 and I was doing songs that I’m doing now. But people be like ‘oh don’t do that, he trying to sing, he sound like off-key’ but now, all of a sudden all my biggest songs sound just like the ones I was trying to do when I was younger. So yeah, just stick to what you feel is dope and don’t let nobody else tell you it’s not dope because it’s all art and just keep going.”

The words I’ve seen to describe you the most are ‘organic’ ‘authentic’ and ‘relatable’ – I feel like that’s also very much reflected in your music and your sound. Has it always been seamless to tap into that in an industry that can sometimes be very saturated with gimmicky artists and selling easy music? Were you ever tempted to not stay true to your sound?

“I tried it, I signed to Warner Brothers for two years and I wanted to try and do certain things to get to the next level like make a radio song, gravitate towards the big companies and it was stressful, I got to the point where I didn’t like making music no more. So when I got out of my deal I was like ‘you know what? I don’t know what’s gonna happen but I’m just gonna tell my story and say it how I wanna say it and we’re gonna see if people like it’.

“It was an experiment but I liked it and I put it out and there was no promo or plan, it was just recording and putting it out and word of mouth. Nobody in the industry really fucked with it but I believed in the formula, but I created the formula, like for the whole industry for sure. You know what I mean, I probably won’t get my respect just yet but it will come. People did it – people dropped music a lot before and did shit a certain way but the way I was doing it, like coming outside out the trunk, everywhere I’m going, pulling up on fans, hand to hand, like five people at my shows, still going to shows, I did a lot to build my name and I’m just thankful for it that it actually worked.”

You’ve said before that your music is for people who relate to you and have that hustler mindset – do you feel like that’s why your fanbase is always very loyal to you; because they can relate?

“Yeah I think they seen it, it’s documented. Everything I did from when I was 15 to 17, I never deleted it, I kept it up there and they saw the process and heard what I was rapping about and trying to do what I’m doing now so I kinda gave people a blueprint without hiding nothing. Never deleted none of my Instagram pictures from 2012, you go all the way down, I just kept it to see the process, so everything I’m saying which is real, they’re just seeing it. So yeah, I think people can relate to that.

“Anything they’re doing, like even if you got a job or trying to finish college or you know, being a better person, you can understand you see someone come from the bottom to the medium, to almost there to still almost there, you know what I’m saying? Like ‘keep going, Larry, you almost there’. It’s just the blueprint for any independent artist or just artist in general, but you can just do what you want, like when I got into my bag and did what I wanted to do, it just changed for me and I think people felt it. It wasn’t no gimmick, it was someone like me explaining the good things and the bad things, like not getting into too detailed but it’s like letting people know, like this is where I’m at right now and one day I’ll be here, you know what I’m saying?” 

You have a lot of different business ventures outside of music, from Midnight Organic clothing to Uncle Larry’s Natural Orange and your Honeybear Boba shop. When it comes to business, do you feel like you have almost a list of things you wanna try?

“I been trying to focus on the music just for now, so super accomplish this to get to where I wanna be fully where I can have to not do like 60 shows and I can sit back and really, I’m like particular on certain things. A lot of businesses ventures like my boba shop, I got partners. It’s kinda like a business where I invested into it early and I don’t have to do too much work, it’s just kinda like passive income type shit, so I don’t think too much about it at more than a numbers stand.

“So, I do wanna – that’s my end goal – I’m not trying to be doing like 60 shows and all that for the rest of my life, you know what I mean? I wanna sit back and just make sure people know me as a good businessman, you know, I do good business with everybody, but then I’m definitely gonna tap into a whole lot of different things. I already do real estate and stuff like that but I definitely wanna take it to the next level man, but I gotta finish this first, I’m still in college. But I’m ready.”

Now that you’re in the UK again, are there any UK artists that you’re really vibing with at the moment or any you’d like to collaborate with in future?

“Yeah, I like Nines, Knucks, Headie One, Nippa, Dave there’s so many good people, there’s so many dope ones man. There’s so much talent here, I love it, it’s like the whole culture out here, the way everybody sticking together, even for the clothing brands with Corteiz and everybody wearing it, it’s like a unity and that’s super dope. And I feel like it’s like they’re giving an example of how everyone should do it, everybody coming together and working and having a sound and taking it to the next level. I think it’s so dope, it’s inspiring for sure.” 

Credit: Instagram

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you have and what we can expect from you in the next year?

“I’m working on a solo album, me and Cardo got an album that’s done, we’ll drop that soon maybe. But a lot of solo projects, I kinda wanna just get back into my cave and just cook and get to making beats again and get back to my vibe, couple solo projects, but I don’t wanna disclose too much, but yeah.”

The Great Escape is out now on all streaming platforms – have a listen below.