On his last album, “Come Home The Kids Missed You,” Jack Harlow tried to propel himself to superstardom with features from idols like Drake and Lil Wayne and hits like “State Fair” and “Dua Lipa.” But on the song with the Canadian legend, “Churchill Downs,” Harlow mentioned wanted posters with him on them and the fact that “they know who I’m wanted by.”
After that album, a lot fewer people wanted to listen to Harlow. They thought he would just be another bust, and “What’s Poppin” would just be his one-hit-wonder. But on a random Wednesday, after being pretty much silent other than announcing his appearance in a “White Men Can’t Jump” reboot, he suddenly announced his return.
On the cover of “Jackman,” Harlow stands stone-faced with his arms crossed in a back alley, basketball hoop up top, trash cans down low. Some people made jokes on Twitter as they always do, zooming in on the trash cans and saying this will be how Harlow’s album will sound.
The haters were proven wrong because they doubted his ability to actually rap and not just make hits about what’s popping and professing his love for a female singer.
The album only consists of 10 songs and 24 total minutes of music. No features. Just Harlow on the mic and his group of underground producers, making purely rap music and trying to shift the narrative.
It starts off with setting the tone right away with “Common Ground” and how Harlow feels about some people talking about topics they don’t know, from violence to rap music and everything in between.
“Local homicide rates got ’em astonished / Reading ’bout it on a laptop in pajamas / Microsoft Office to complete their assignments / Never seen the hood still can’t help but have comments,” Harlow sings.
Right off the bat, Harlow is out for blood and vengeance like he’s Batman, but Batman’s number one rule is never to kill anyone. Only brutally hurt his enemies and send them away to Arkham. Harlow wants to brutally make clear to the doubters that he’s here to stay and become one of the greats.
The next song he boasts again about wanting the perfect woman in his life and how he is, again, one of the best in the rap game. Harlow brings each song down to its pure essence and takes away all the gimmicks and flashy pops of previous projects. He keeps it going with every song, with a catchy hook and some solid bars that can be Instagram captions here and there.
In “It Can’t Be,” he exclaims all of the different reasons why he can’t be successful and he brings up this fact.
“It can’t be that I simply make ear candy / Especially when the industry could just plant me,” Harlow sings.
My favorite song on this project is “Denver,” and plenty of people on social media have the same sentiment. A guitar plays effortlessly in the background and a calming sample plays out to start, singing why it ever had to be.
Harlow shows off his insecurity and his true feelings day-to-day about his fame and his career. It’s hard for him to be a superstar so he keeps to himself and wishes he didn’t have a phone at all. It’s great whenever an artist can get personable, and a listener can truly relate to what their favorite singer or rapper is going through.
And throughout the song, Harlow shouts out his friends for being there for him and checking in on him, even with the sample ending talking about many people losing hope in their dreams.
Before listening to one of the most concise but consistent albums of the year with “Jackman,” I saw Harlow as a comedic star that also did some rap about basketball, women and his city of Louisville. After? Harlow is a rapper. And if he builds upon the highs for his next studio album? Watch out, everybody.