When Jack Harlow put out his latest project, Come home the children miss you, to a decidedly mixed reception (even though it catapulted him to the status of a household name), there were plenty of thoughts about his next move as a defining one for his future career. Fortunately for Harlow, it seems he took the criticism of his previous work to heart. While his public persona may make you think otherwise, this is a man who grew up a full-fledged rap nerd and spent hours honing his craft; him. Enter the namesake jackman, a 10-track project spanning just 24 minutes that’s almost free of hooks and simply finds Harlow unleashing some of his most varied bars yet on a series of increasingly self-aware tracks about his own life and his community, all while preserving his world. recognized charisma. And while there are a couple of cheesy bars and touchy moments that aren’t handled with the greatest of grace, Harlow showing off his legitimate hip-hop chops as he grovels and turns the camera out often succeeds.
Harlow paying for the soulful samples across the board here is about the only thing on this project that would make you believe he’s a blockbuster mainstream rapper. In two short verses, “Common Ground” opens things up with some ’90s gospel-tinged R&B as Harlow delves into the issues of the community he hails from in incisive detail. It touches on rap culture in white suburbia and how it distorts their perception of the people they emulate, fetishizing their existence to a damaging degree as racism and guns proliferate, while diminishing the credibility of those who follow. become hip-hop journalists and commentators. Speeding up the soulful sampler for a bit more of a supple track on “They Don’t Love It,” Harlow continues to show why so many people compare him to Drake: He has much of the same focus, flows, and energies, for better or worse, but in this project it sounds like the young and hungry version. Taking some of Aubrey’s recent New Orleans bouncy kick to a shimmering, choppy piano beat, Harlow does what he does best and uses his charisma to talk about his charisma. There are definitely a couple of Eminem-level dad jokes scattered throughout—oddly enough, on a track where he controversially (and incorrectly) calls himself the best white rapper since—but it’s funny.
The song “Ambitious” is the first to break the two-minute mark, and for good reason: It’s a Kendrick Lamar-esque song with a verse each dedicated to his big dreams at different ages. Taking a slightly more relaxed and easy-going vocal approach over a crackling, vintage-sounding orchestral beat, it’s lovely to hear Harlow talk about his humble beginnings, from his air conditioning hanging on the back of his recordings to his steady growth. . facial hair and his crowd of 15, all women of course. Progressing through his swaggering teenage years and his career stumbling into FaceTiming with Bieber, he ends up seemingly addressing the setback from his previous project and solidifying his dedication to rhymes. There aren’t many hooks on this project, but when they do, Harlow infuses them with the allure he knows. “Is that correct?” is one of those, as he adds some soft chant to the quotes as he talks about stepping away from some of the flashier aspects of stardom and building a social media profile, at least most of the time.
While it’s all certainly an amazing Harlow project, no one could have been prepared for the song “Gang Gang Gang” as it tackles an incredibly dark and sensitive subject matter with an unexpectedly soft and soulful touch. Playing both sides of the conversation in perfect rhythm, Harlow relives conversations with childhood friends where he learns that two acquaintances from the past committed some truly despicable acts, displaying some very impressive storytelling ability as he repeats the hook: “ride by my friends, die for my friends.” ”– In a dead-eyed tone emphasizing his futility. What’s even more shocking than adding some ugly words and horrible circumstances to the mix is the way Harlow adds details about how he used to play Pokemon with them while describing their lives as normal kids. The final somber verse finds him sadly lamenting friendships and forever tainted memories, abandoning his former brothers promptly despite the “gang” talk. The next two tracks had a lot to live up to, but they represent the weakest part of the album. The acoustic sample of “Denver” doesn’t provide as much propulsive energy as some of the other tracks, and while Harlow can generally carry it with his personality nonetheless, he’s talking about being down on this one and his delivery reflects that. . Still, his reflections on feeling the pressure as his star grows and not feeling like “that guy” all the time are compelling. “No Enhancers,” on the other hand, is the shortest track here, full of clunky, out-of-place bars and a nasty, repetitive hook.
The song “It Can’t Be” is another one that tackles a touchy subject, but this time with a triumphant note and an energetic beat to back it up. Going through a list of all the reasons she’s so successful, plus the common criticism that she’s only there because of the color of her skin, could have gone very wrong if Harlow hadn’t brought the skills and charisma to back up her boasts. . about the dedication and work he has put in and the nice, loyal, self-assured guy that he is. Also, it might be the most technical track here, with some good internal rhyme schemes. “Blame On Me” is also imbued with a storyteller’s level of detail as Harlow delves into the pent-up emotions in a male family dynamic. Speaking from the three’s perspective as he reflects on his father’s harsh attitude towards him, which rubs off on his treatment of his younger brother, the three are shown to mean well, but not have a healthy way of prove it. Harlow’s own verse in the middle finds him apologizing to his brother, as the entire track advocates strong communication, delivering another powerful message. However, “Questions” closes the project on a somewhat giddy note, as Harlow goes through many of the themes he’s presented in a gimmicky way that he’s done ad nauseam, with every line ending in a question mark. .
If Harlow wanted to prove himself one more time that he’s a rapper’s rapper who’s so much more than some goofy Fergie show or an interview where he makes a public figure blush uncontrollably, he’s certainly done so over the course of a few. brief 24 minutes here. Switching between the two in the future could really be the best and most entertaining option for both sides of yourself.
Favorite Songs: Gang Gang Gang, Ambitious, It Can’t Be, Blame On Me, Is That Right?
Least Favorite Track: No Enhancers