If you’re anything like me, you’re not super drawn to the woozy, mumbling flow that seems to dominate the rap industry today. In hindsight, I’m not a huge rap fan at all, but can appreciate when an artist’s style is as distinct as it is all their own.
I didn’t intentionally look into this artist, but am happy to say I came across them through the vast power of internet culture. It seems that every summer, I stumble into an act that I originally pay no mind to, but overtime almost always ends up rooting for.
Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Jack Harlow started rapping when he was 12-years-old. Harlow made some of his first songs on a Guitar Hero microphone (one of my most prized possessions in my pre-teen days – only made it to the ‘hard” difficulty, though. #iykyk), and wound up selling out shows in his area before he had graduated high school. His first EP, The Handsome Harlow (2015) embodies his bright-eyed, hungry energy, and when lining it up with his most recent project, That’s What They All Say (2020), the growth is one to be acknowledged.
After moving to Atlanta, Georgia, Harlow was put into contact and eventually signed with DJ Drama and Don Cannon of the record label Generation Now, which is under Atlantic Records. You may be familiar with his TikTok-culture approved single “What’s Poppin,” which was later remastered for a remix featuring Lil Wayne, DaBaby, and Tory Lanez.
Harlow’s more slowed paced songs to me are the musical version of an aimless night drive with a trusted friend (which are some of the best times, in my opinion). Paired with his lyrical self-disclosure, you are offered a glimpse into Harlow’s brain and experiences – which is just as relatable as it is brilliant. Some of his standout chill works for me would have to be “RIVER ROAD” off of Confetti (2019), “Eastern Parkway” off of Gazebo (2017), and “Keep It Light” off of That’s What They All Say (2020).
In times where big groups can’t get together, Harlow’s trap/vibe/groovy songs are perfect to fill the house party type void in my heart. Some of his standout hype records for me would have to be “GHOST” and “THRU THE NIGHT (feat. Bryson Tiller)” off of his album, Confetti. All of these songs carry the bounce and giddy energy of a summer night you will never forget.
I’m drawn to an artist’s ability to vouch for themselves and their work. Artists who steadily overcome the hurdles of outside opinions, and are open about how they came to be, inspire me to continue working on my creative pursuits. When the rest of the world is yet to be convinced, honing in on your drive, truth, and originality is vital. To me, Jack Harlow has got it, and the world is convinced!