When it comes to analyzing the most interesting men in the world, the Dos Equis man has nothing on rapper Larry June, who is universally regarded as one of the more intriguing figures across the genre’s landscape today. How many people do you know can congregate with hustlers after a day of cruising around town on their bicycle? Or make the transition from peddling illegal goods to diversifying their portfolio off the strength of tea bags and tapioca balls? Well, both scenarios apply to the Bay Area rep, who has spent the better part of the last decade carving out his own particular niche while consistently delivering quality music.
This year, Larry made the month of June his own and released Orange Print, a project that finds the rapper fully owning his status as a boss. Comprised of 13-tracks, the album captures Larry fine-tuning his conversational brand of lyricism, resulting in a refined long-player that presents the best music that the rising star has to offer: everyman raps over airy, 808-driven beats. Led by the single, “Intercepted” featuring Money Man, as well as the Trae Tha Truth-assisted standout, “Grand Nash Chronicles,” Orange Print also includes guest spots from Dej Loaf and Herm Lewis, who pop up on “Say Less” and “From Uncle Herm, Pt. 3,” respectively. Throughout the LP’s duration, Larry remains the central figure, giving listeners various slices of his life through the lens that is his unique view. His first album to chart on the Billboard 200, Orange Print, was released under EMPIRE Distribution and marked new territory for the rapper, an ascent he looks to capitalize on with a pair of forthcoming bodies of work.
With over 19 projects under his belt, including a slew of collaborative efforts with a diverse mix of production talent like TM88 (Route 80), Harry Fraud (Keep Going), Cookin’ Soul (Orange Season), Sledgren (Sock It to Me Pt. 1 & 2), and Cardo. Joining forces on the projects Mr. Midnight, Game Related, and most recently Cruise USA, the tandem is gearing up to return with another slapper in the form of their forthcoming project, In The Late Night, a quick-strike EP where Larry and Cardo recapture the unique sound they’ve cultivated and mastered on previous offerings. Set to drop this fall, In The Night will precede the release of Larry’s next solo studio album, which is currently untitled, but set to be unveiled in time for Thanksgiving.
Larry June spoke VIBE about the creation of his Orange Print album, developing a new sound with Cardo, balancing his creativity and hobbies with life as an entrepreneur, and the root of his infamous citrus fixation.
VIBE: You dropped your new album Orange Print earlier this summer. How has the reception been to it so far?
Larry June: You know, it’s been real good, man. I got a good response from it and it kind’ve just motivated me to start working on more sh*t. Honestly, You know, I be cooking like a motherfu**er, man, but it was real good. It was a great rollout. It was actually one of my best rollouts I ever had in my career, in my opinion, but it went great, man. Nobody had nothing bad to say about it and sh*t it’s doing numbers.
Jay-Z has The Blueprint, Nicki Minaj has The Pinkprint. What was the inspiration behind Orange Print?
Oh, you know Jay-Z definitely was an inspiration. He was the inspiration behind it when I thought about it. I had put a post on Instagram and I was like, “What should I name the album,” and then a fan was like, “The Orange Print” and I was like, “Damn, that’s fire,” so I kind’ve just ran with it, but when I thought about it, I definitely thought about Jay-Z. Jay-Z off the dribble, fo’sho.
What producers did you work with on this album?
Mr. Rogers, DJ Mr. Rogers, on a couple of tracks. Cardo, K. Fisha, my in-house producer DVME from TFM. Helluva from Detroit. He made the beat with me and Money Man, “Intercepted.” Jake One made a couple of records on there and Sledgren made one on there, too. I think that’s about it, if I’m not mistaken.
How did you and Cardo link up?
I linked up with Cardo first in like 2015 or 2014 and we just was cooking. man, making hella records. Dropped a couple of albums or whatever and then Sledgren linked it up with Cardo and then Cardo started sending me tracks and then later down the line, me and Cardo started making solo music. I was already making songs with Sledgren and Cardo beats collaboratively and then me and Cardo just started doing some sh*t on the side, our own sh*t, too. So, Sledgren put all of that together, fo’sho.
You released multiple projects throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and really capitalized on the downtime due to the quarantine. What adjustments did you make to your creative process during that time that helped you while working on this project?
The quarantine was real challenging for me. I didn’t really know what was going on at the time. I wasn’t really too inspired, it was so much sh*t consuming my mind so it was more of a challenge. And I work very good under pressure, you know what I’m saying? So, I just put it all into the music. I mean, I try to use my music as an escape from what’s going on and talk about some sh*t that people wanted to hear and sh*t that I was going through at the time, and it just kind of worked out for me. I didn’t really know what was gonna come out of me dropping music in the quarantine. Everybody’s headspace was in different places, Like “Why you dropping music right now, this just happened. This going on, you need to be doing this” and I just kind of said, “F**k it, I’m just gonna do me and drop this motherf**king music,” and it was cool. I was iffy about it, but it worked out for me, man. And the process really didn’t change. I’m still in the house working, I’m recording from home. And even before the quarantine, I never really was out like that unless I was busting my little moves, getting some bread or riding my bike and sh*t like that. So, the process didn’t really change, but now that it’s open, I feel like now I can go do more sh*t and get more inspiration to rap about different things, you know what I mean?
You recently dropped the music video for “Intercepted” with Money Man. How did that collaboration come about and what was it like filming the video with him?
Man, the collab was organic. He came to The Bay, we was kicking it. We was probably in the studio for like 10 hours just cooling, smoking, chopping it up and then he said “F**k it,” and turned on a beat and it was just history from there. He a cool a** dude, we’re into the same sh*t. He’s on his investment sh*t and trying to make plays and we were really just talking about regular sh*t the whole time. And then at the end, the last hour of us being in the studio, we made the record. And then Gazi picked the beat, gotta shout out Gazi*** Gazi actually found the beat and said “I think y’all’d sound good on this beat, y’all should try to rap on it,” and then I was like, “Aight, fo’sho.”
So, he played it and the last hour of the session, we knocked it out. It wasn’t even the session, we just was kicking it, but it worked out real smooth. And then the video was cool. We flew to Texas, we had a couple of things to do in Texas, he was already out there and sh*t, and everything just kind of fell into place. He was ready, he had to be in Atlanta the next, I had some sh*t to do the next day. He came up to us, did the shoot, went about his day, went about my day and Everything was very organic, it wasn’t even really planned out like that. We had some vegan food, Alkaline water, you know he’s a vegan so we had the vegan bust down come through. Vegan chicken strips and sh*t, juices and sh*t. It was cool, made it real quick, it was real organic, man, that’s a good dude. Shout out, Money Man, for sure. Solid dude.
With the venues having opened back up, do you have any plans on hitting the road and touring for this album or doing any show dates?
I’ma drop couple more projects before I hit the road, so I’m thinking about me and Cardo probably dropping something in the next month and a half or so. And then I plan to drop my next album in November and then hit the road. That’s the plan for right now.
So the Cardo project is gonna be an EP?
We gonna drop like an eight-piece, a little organic eight-piece. People love when me and Cardo work, so it’s gonna be moreso something we gonna put out there, put a little promo with it to get the streets rocking. Do some videos, you know what I mean? Do the little sh*t we usually do. And then it’s gonna build up to the November project, we gonna do the whole big campaign behind it, I’m also gonna have Cardo on that one as well, too, though. So it’s just kinda like a buildup and giving people what they been asking for you know, ’cause all on Twitter and Instagram, everybody’s [like], “Do another project with Cardo, we want that sound.” So just giving ’em what they want and then getting to the next album and just keeping it rocking like cut-off stockings.
What is it about you and Cardo’s chemistry that makes y’all link up to bring that vibe?
You know, we’re kind of like into the same things. Same music, same cars, you know, we just kinda have that same conversation. I think we kind of made a groove in the beginning of 2019 or whatever. We didn’t really know what it was gonna be at the time now, I mean, but it came into a solid sound that nobody was doing, you know what I mean. And I can only really get that sound when I work with Cardo and he can only get that sound when he works with me, so it’s kind of like a formula that we just got that it’s very easy for us now. To the point that it’s easy for me to get on there, know exactly how we’re gonna come and it is what it is, keep it rocking, you know what I mean? Versus my personal albums, I’ll pick the producers out. Every producer I like, I get together and I kind of make it a collective thing, but me and Cardo come in, it’s a sound that you know we’re gonna get every time. It’s like going to the store, you’re gonna get you some white tees, this one might have a little better quality on that one than this one, you know what I’m saying? It’s just a sound that we created on his beats that I feel like only me and him can do. So it’s kind of easy for us.
Being from the Bay, you’ve been compared to many greats that came out of that area. Who four artists would you put on your Bay Mt. Rushmore?
You know, The Jacka, for sure. R.I.P. The Jacka. Mac Dre, fo’sho. A lot of people sleep on Messy [Marv], you know, he had his ups and down, but Messy Marv, fo’sho. RBL Posse, Black Chris, it’s so many I can’t even name, man. It’s so much inspiration that comes out of San Francisco and The Bay Area alone that people don’t know about to the point that it’s so unknown that people would think the inspiration is coming from other places because the Bay Area is just its own world. You gotta be from here or been around here to really understand what’s really going on, you know what I’m saying. I can name a lot of rappers, motherfuckers probably wouldn’t even know who I was talking about, but they definitely changed the sound in a lot of the music industry, in my opinion. A lot of the lingo, E-40 is one of the lingo masters. It’s a lot of game that comes out of this motherfucker that people don’t really know about, so the Mt. Rushmore, we gonna need probably a few of them. It ain’t enough slots.
How has being from the Bay informed your artistry, as well as how you view the world and carry yourself?
I learned a lot being out here in The Bay, man. Just the hustle mentality, it’s just a different vibe out here, man. I mean, I spent time out ATL, too, so on the music side, I was inspired on both ends. From five years old to 14, I was living in Riverdale with my mom. She moved up there from San Francisco to the A-Town for a minute so I was going to school over there so I was influenced both ways, but The Bay is a whole different culture, man. It’s hard to really put together, man. It’s a real player, it’s peaceful, but it can get ugly. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a lot of game. I could go on, man.
What aspect about Orange Print sets it apart from the previous projects you’ve released?
I feel like Orange Print…the reason I went with that name when the fan mentioned is ’cause I feel on that tape, I kind of hit all angles. People who know me, they know that I got Trap Larry, I go Smooth Larry, I got Player Larry. I feel like on this album, I hit every angle and pretty much gave them the blueprint of who I am as an artist. Like stuff for the ladies, trap sh*t, smooth sh*t, me singing, me working with different artists like Money Man, and sh*t like that. Trae Tha Truth, tapping in with a legend in Texas, you know what I mean? It kind of just gave them a blueprint of my inspiration and what I was inspired by musically and sh*t. When I made the album. I didn’t plan the name it Orange Print, but after listening to it, I was like, “Damn, I pretty much hit every angle on this album.” People who were a fan of me before, like, if you knew me in 2015, you know I had like probably five trap albums and a lot of people gravitated towards that, and that pretty much kind of got me where I am now. Then I switched it up. I always had my smooth sh*t, it just wasn’t a lot of spotlight on it at the time ’cause I was working with like TM88, OG Maco. You know, Deko, OG Parker, all of them. I was working with them, so the audience was kind of over there, so the smooth sh*t didn’t really have a real light on it until I start working with Cooking Soul and Sledgren and sh*t like that.
Another standout track from your album is “Grand Nash Chronicles” featuring Trae the Truth. What was the inspiration behind that track and how did you connect with Trae?
Me and Mr. Rogers were always talking and going back and forth. We were working on sh*t for a while, we just didn’t put it out, and then on this album, we really dug into it. Honestly, Mr. Rogers set the tone for the whole album. He probably don’t even know that. He sent me the beat, I was like, “Cool, I got something to start with” and then I made the “Grand Nash Chronicles.” Rogers did a chopped and screwed, he took one of my old songs and made that hook himself. I think he sampled a verse off of my song called “Recaro Seats” or one of them songs. I don’t know. He samples the hook, I put the verses on there. I did the song and I was like, “I need Trae Tha Truth.” I always f**ked with Trae Tha Truth. I like his delivery, he’s a real dude. I was just a fan of him already. So, I asked Rogers if he could get on there and he made it happen. But Rogers linked that up. Rogers and Trae are real cool, so I reached out to Trae for that verse.
Being that you have your hands in so many endeavors, how do you balance life outside of music with being a rap artist?
It’s about your team. My Boba Shop is not 100% me. I’ve got a couple of partners so they take care of it. We hire people who work at the shop. That’s managers and people who run the stores, so that’s kind of automatic for me. I kind of made that a passive income thing for me where I invested my money into it, made my money back, and then this is a check every month. I’ve got a couple of partners that have already mastered running multiple businesses already that I learned a lot from. I just took my money and made it work for itself with that kind of sh*t.
I’m starting CBD companies and sh*t and I’m just using that same formula with everything. So, if I got five businesses and I’m getting 33% of each business, that’s numbers outside of everything else I’m doing. I just look at the numbers part of it. I gotta make sure I’m giving out quality products and staying consistent. And me doing that and me being able to outsource and have other people help me with certain things and take a certain cut of it. I don’t need to necessarily get a hundred percent of everything, you know what I’m saying? I like riding my bike. I like going to Whole Foods. I like making smoothies and sh*t, f**king with kids, taking them to school. I just want to have consistent cash flow. If you got four businesses that are bringing you this percentage of money, it’s way over 100. You’re not even doing sh*t but just chilling, you know what I’m saying? So that’s the only way I can really balance it because I got good people in my corner that help me with certain sh*t. That I put involved with my ideas and make these ideas come true.
How does it feel to see people in hip-hop embracing investing, cryptocurrency, and all these different things with you being on the ground floor as a businessman yourself?
I think it’s dope, man, seeing people looking to do other things. Growing up how we grow up, our resort was “Let’s go sell some drugs. Let’s go do this, let’s go try to finesse this.” So, seeing people turn to cryptocurrency is pretty cool. I did cryptocurrency for a second in 2017, made a few dollars. It really wasn’t my thing, but I know it’s something that’s huge. You know, I don’t downplay it, I’m just more of an entrepreneur kind of person where I like to just create my own incomes and I’m real safe with my investments, you know what I’m saying? I don’t really put a lot of money into Bitcoin, which I do have a little bit of all that sh*t. I just don’t put too much energy into it. I look into that kind of sh*t as like if I put money into it, twenty thousand, thirty thousand, whatever, I consider it gone already. So, that’s more like a long-term play in my eyes when it comes to the cryptocurrency. Get it, let it sit. I’m not just gonna be sitting there watching the stock market ’cause I don’t got time to be watching the stock market all day and it’s the numbers on the crypto. I like to invest into myself and into ideas that I know can make money right. I used to sell CDs at the mall and all the other sh*t, so I’m just a good salesperson. I’m a big believer in sticking to your formula and mastering your formula. I’m gonna continue doing what I’m doing, but also open to doing other sh*t, too, like you said. I dabbled with cryptocurrency a few years ago, made a few dollars. It was cool, but I’m just better at other things.
What are three songs from Orange Print are you eager for fans to hear?
I think “6am In Sausalito” is one of my favorites. That’s one of my favorite records on there, it’s about me having a cool little peaceful day, nothing too crazy. Just riding around, having female company, taking a little walk. Just like setting up a different vibe for dudes kicking it with their chick or whatever. And then the “Iced Coffee” joint, the same with that one. I feel like they are two tracks that I like on the album, but I’m always cooking man. That sh*t gets old to me, I’m on to the next. I think the whole project is a great project, but now it’s time to step it up. We gotta do more numbers, you know what I mean? But we cooking.
Where did your fixation with oranges begin?
You know, I’ma stay healthy on a punk bi**h, I think that’s one of the highest doses of vitamin C. And I don’t like to get too into detail about a lot of things but I used to get anxiety going through the TSA at the airport (laughs). And I needed something that could get me [loose]. You know you couldn’t bring a bottled water through it and sh*t and I felt like an orange is something I could get in and turn into a drink if worse comes to worse, you know? Little juices in that thang and I always kept my orange on me. And then when I used to touch down and bust my move, ni**as would be like, “Damn, you always got some oranges,” like, that’s just what I do, you know what I’m saying? But I wanna stay healthy on a punk bi**h, too, though.
You previously mentioned releasing your own brand of oranges. Do you have any updates on that?
I ain’t got no updates on that, but I’m working on it. I’m working on a juice shop right now, though, out here in The Bay and we got like four or five more locations of the Honey Bear Boba coming up. And I’m just taking my time with it, I want everything to be done correctly. I’ve got a lot of plans and goals, but I’m a real perfectionist when it comes to certain things. The reason the Boba Shop sh*t came so easily because it was collected and the numbers were right in my face. I think the price margin of what we can do and the predictions. It just was easy for me. It’s a little different on that side of the game, on the fresh juices and sh*t, so I’m mastering the numbers on that and then after that, I’m finna go crazy and put it together. That’ll probably be in a few more months. I’ma drop these two projects and I’ma start working on putting my energy into that for like five months and then working it. But them bust down oranges are definitely on the way, though.
Do you have any titles for those two tapes?
The me and Cardo one is called In The Late Night. We’re trying to keep the midnight vibe, you know, like Mr. Midnight, the Cruise USA. We’re kinda on some cruise through the late-night, on some real peaceful, player, organic, bust down, healthy, yee-hee! One of those ones.
What’s next for Larry June?
Me and Cardo next up, In The Late Night. Quick mixtape for the street. I ain’t gonna speak too much on the album, though. We’re still working on that one.