Despite his big, bright smile and sweet demeanor, Armani White has been through some of life’s toughest battles. In his 2021 EP, Things We Lost in the Fire, he shares some of the traumatic moments that came from two separate house fires in 2006 and 2020.
“I lost a lot in those fires. I lost some friends, I lost my best friend Melinda, my three cousins and my aunt in the house fire growing up,” he tells Billboard‘s Tetris Kelly at SXSW, three years after the most recent fire. “Then, we had a house fire in 2020 and that house fire was the moment — the first one, I was nervous to talk about it for the majority of my life and then second became something like, maybe this is a calling to say, ‘Get this out. Go through this.’ It might be something fruitful for you, so that’s what we did.”
During his SXSW performance, White also mentioned the death of his father. “My dad definitely inspired me,” White tells Billboard. “He taught me to be resilient, be fearless and go for what you want. That’s the mentality he always had. He had good intentions, he didn’t necessarily have the best execution with those intentions, but that also inspired me because it taught me to be human.”
But the tough moments haven’t stopped him. Following the viral success of his 2022 track, “Billie Eilish,” White is looking forward to another Hot 100 hit with his freshly dropped debut EP under Def Jam, Road to Casablanco. “It’s very much focused on all the wins, all the trophies and all the success we’ve been getting,” he shares. “Me being from Philly and an artist on the happy side […] it gives you a peek inside the hood side that shows you why I feel like I deserve to be this happy and why I feel like I’ve been through so much that I’ve merited the right to walk in the building with a smile on my face.”
Watch Billboard‘s full interview with Armani White above.