Larry June Brings the Bay to the SoundClash Stage

Larry June Brings the Bay to the SoundClash Stage

Larry June understands the importance of showmanship. From his instantly recognizable fashion choices to his lackadaisical raps where you can hear his expression in the booth, June has become one of the most beloved rappers that came out of the blog era with the hunger to achieve longevity.

As one of the most prolific artists of the pandemic, channeling his isolation into six hard-hitting projects, June crafted an even more fervent fanbase while remaining independent. Now, he has had a chance to grace the Red Bull SoundClash stage, going head-to-head with Detroit rapper Babyface Ray. The two have a preexisting relationship, recording the effortless trap banger "Extra of Um."

For this year's SoundClash, Red Bull opted for the first coast-to-coast showdown, inviting fans to visit both Ray and June's hometowns for two spectacular nights. PAPER caught up with the Bay Area star for a quick chat about tackling a series of firsts, his childhood routine and what it means to do numbers.

DJ Killa Squid

Tell me about your SoundClash experience and how you plan on approaching it.

It is very new for me to perform a show that's well put together. You know, it's like a lot of moving parts. Going back and forth and doing a show with another artist, that's super dope. Shit. I'm not thinking too much about it. I'm just doing my job to make sure I do it the best way I can do it. We're gonna do numbers! It'll be a great show.

Doing this both in Detroit, which is not your hometown, and San Francisco, which is your hometown, do you feel like you have to go harder when you're out of your element?

We'll get up there and do numbers and keep it organic. When I get up there, it's going to do what it do. I'm not changing nothing. You want Uncle Larry? You'll get Uncle Larry. It is what it is. [laughs] You don't want to make it too tough on yourself.

My team helped put everything together and I just approved everything. It's cool and I think it'll be easy, man. We did a little rehearsal and the songs I'm performing, I've done them a million times. I have a live band! So I get to bring my band out and do a capella over the bass and the drums and guitars. It's my first time performing with a band but it's not too hard! You just sing your songs.

Yeah, there's only human error, but I trust you all.

Nothing is really ever that hard.

Let's talk about that relationship between the Bay and the Midwest. I remember reading old issues of Murder Dog Magazine, which is based in the Bay, and seeing the love for Chicago and Detroit.

The Bay and Detroit are like cousins, it's just a four-hour flight. I guess more like long-distance cousins. It's dope! I think it's a lot of similarities probably lifestyle-wise, especially coming from certain areas and when it comes to the tempos you rap on and the topics.

Coming from someone from the East Coast, it was a lot more homogenous when it comes to taste over here. When I talk to people from the South or Midwest, they were much more omnivorous. What were you listening to, especially being that you were in Atlanta for a bit?

I listen to a lot of neo-soul and shit, and then I was in ATL for a while so T.I. was first coming up with his mixtapes. Same with Jeezy's first mixtapes. Then you go back to the Bay with Mac Dre, Too $hort, E-40, Bullies Wit Fullies. I got the best of both worlds. I got inspiration from a lot of different genres like neo-soul, so you got me singing shit and then I have that Bay Area bounce back to Trap Larry. I just put it in a pot and mix it up and do outstanding numbers. It all depends. Sometimes I feel like Trap Larry but sometimes I feel real smooth. It's wherever the beat takes me, but being able to see those places in the South and East and West helped a lot.

I think you're part of a new generation that feels less pressured to have to sound specifically like one region, especially because we now consume music in a much different way.

You got to just create! I work with producers and just create to do something different even if it's not like super "in" or if people think I shouldn't be doing it. Just create! Don't think too much about it. You get there, you play some cool shit and do what you think is dope. That's just what I do. I just get there and try to create new shit as much as possible. But I always stay in my pocket! I remix my pocket a lot where it's like I might talk about the same thing or switch my patterns up when I rap. I did a song with Babyface Ray and the beat switches up. I activate Trap Larry. Just put it on!

So you spent most of your formative years in Atlanta, visiting San Francisco every year before moving back. What was that like?

I was flying by myself for a long time, but ATL was different, man. Like I can't really remember since it was a long ass time ago, but it was different. I used to wash cars, rake leaves, make beats, listen to "Knuck If You Buck," go to the skating rink, slapbox and eat hot wings.

Your routine sounds very similar to mine, especially listening to "Knuck If You Buck."

Exactly. Rake leaves, wash cars, "Knuck If You Buck," basketball. I had a regular life, you know what I'm saying? I had a little formula where I get me a little Dickies suit from Walmart, knock on some doors looking like a professional and charge $50 to rake the leaves. I got the dirt on the jacket. What you do is how you do it. I chased a couple deers.

Then I came back to the to the Bay and it was straight to it. Same shit, different days. Started selling candy, started rapping and dropped my first mixtape.

So you were the kid in school who would buy the snacks in bulk and resell them?

For sure! I had Skittles, Starburst, Hot Cheetos, Hot Fries, suckers, everything you need! Swisher Sweets too. I sold cellphones, some chains, everything you could think of. I had Sidekicks for sale! I had the Juicy Couture Sidekick back in the day I sold for $500.

Your childhood is as colorful as it should be.

The movie goes on, but we just keep this real. SoundClash.

Photos courtesy of Jade Gomez