What was behind the Kid Laroi’s seemingly abrupt split from Scooter Braun’s SB Projects to join Adam Leber’s Rebel Management last month? A cover story in the new issue of Billboard sheds some light on a shift that shocked many in the music industry, given that it happened after less than four months with Braun and on the heels of a historic six-week run at No. 1 for “Stay,” a duet with another Braun client, Justin Bieber.
According to the story — which quotes unnamed sources, with the Kid Laroi himself apparently not commenting on the matter — the 18-year-old Australian star (real name Charlton Howard) was hoping for more up-close-and-personal involvement with Braun, whose other artists include Bieber, Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande.
The Billboard story cites a source maintaining that “after Braun made ‘a promise’ that he would be directly involved with Laroi… there was not enough participation from him, and Laroi had ‘significant problems’ with [SB Projects president Allison] Kaye, including feeling she was making decisions without consulting him.”
Braun offered a statement for the article, saying their parting was amicable: “Laroi is a brilliant artist, and I wish him and his family nothing but the best. I’m proud of the historic success we had together in our short time — I am rooting for him always, and he knows that.”
Meanwhile, the story makes clear the extent to which Laroi’s new manager is willing to offer the teen star his personal touch, pointing out: “On more than one occasion, his manager, Adam Leber, has found himself driving 30 minutes to a specific McDonald’s just off South Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles so Laroi can snag an elusive frozen Coke he can’t seem to find anywhere else.”
The cover story delves into the entire history of Laroi’s management, including a stint of several years with Grade A Productions, which was with him from the time he moved to America at age 15 until just before SB Projects entered the picture late this spring. The split with Grade A and its founders, Lil Bibby and G-Money, was not necessarily as amicable as the one with Braun — or it at least was not a subject anyone involved would discuss with Billboard. The publication says Grade A partner Peter Jideonwo stopped responding to its interview requests, and when the topic came up in the publication’s interview with Laroi, the star said, “We won’t talk about them,” before a publicist stepped in to halt any further inquiry about Grade A.
Kaye is described as setting up Zoom meetings with Laroi once she heard he and Grade A had split, conversations in which Laroi “joked” that Braun purportedly said, “I’m the best, man.” The deal was signed with SB over Memorial Day weekend, but differences emerged soon enough that a source told Billboard that “Laroi spent a month trying to work things out with SB Projects, including speaking directly with Braun,” before officially signing with Leber, an alignment that was announced Sept. 28.
Leber had been in the running to be Laroi’s manager previously. He’s said to have been one of five managers Laroi and his team considered when they first split with Grade A. Leber was Miley Cyrus’s manager before the two of them split in August, and Leber and Laroi had spent considerable time together in the run-up to a joint appearance by Cyrus and Laroi on “Saturday Night Live” May 8. (The piece says Leber declined to comment on the Braun split, and Leroi is not quoted about it.)
The change is said to have been set in motion in August as Laroi began working with attorneys Kenny Meiselas (who represents the Weeknd and Lady Gaga) and David Jacobs, his colleague at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, who works with Lil Nas X, another Leber client.
“He’s the kind of guy you can sort of sit down with and talk to for hours on end,” Leber tells the magazine of his new client. “He’s witty and engaging. He has a great sense of art and culture. He’s a bit of an old soul — he’s heavily into artists like [INXS’] Michael Hutchence and Kurt Cobain. He just has great sensibilities.”
Leber isn’t the only one who’ll go to unusual lengths to establish personal solidarity with the young star. The article recounts the scene at a pop-up show at New York’s Irving Plaza three days before the MTV VMAs when Laroi had Columbia Records chairman-CEO Ron Perry join him on stage and coerced him into joining him in stage-diving. Laroi also gently chided Perry on stage for not releasing “Stay” to the public as quickly as he’d wanted. “We speak almost daily,” Perry says of Laroi, whom he signed three years ago.