What’s the price of individuality? Miles Davis once said: “If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.” According to Miles, having an individual thought means sometimes being the only one who feels what you feel. In the lead up to JMBLYA, I’m listening to the artists in the lineup who I’m not as familiar with. Today is Jack Harlow’s day, and after listening to Harlow’s music, I think he’d agree with Miles.
His first project, The Handsome Harlow EP, stands as his introduction to the world. Here he showcases his vibe and flow. It’s a short, fun listen. The track, “Power Tools”, is his manifesto. He says: “spit flow, get dough, that is the career path, told them I’m a rapper but they ain’t tryna hear that…I’m just trying to focus on what matters to me, I understand the value of a Masters degree, but that ain’t for me…cause I been looking but I haven’t found me any patience for/ anything that has to do with balancing equations or/ stoichiometry, Pythagorean theorem, I’m looking at my teacher but don’t actually hear’em.”
Undoubtedly, Jack Harlow believes hip hop is his lane, and I believe him, too, but as you can see, not everyone does. His individuality comes at the cost of being misunderstood, but don’t play yourself. Jack Harlow can rap, like, with an actual flow.
What can be seen across his subsequent releases is progression and improvement. He has a good talent for making his cadence bounce with the beat and use it to tell you stories. For example, his follow up project, and debut album, 18, focuses on a darker, moodier sound. Along with the sonics, his lyrics demonstrate a self-awareness. He tells you what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and how he feels about it. Altogether, it’s a great album. It’s refined, focused, and most importantly, knocks the trunk. Lastly, his most recent album, Gazebo, is a development of Jack Harlow’s sound, and an intro to new things he can do. On “Routine”, he employs the rarely used auto tune, and turns into the hook man, singing the chorus himself. It’s to good effect, he sounds like a young Drake transported to 2017.
Jack Harlow is steady working and improving with every release, so I’m surprised to find an unassuming 19 or 20 year old at the heart of all this. I expected to see a flashier guy, but Jack Harlow doesn’t need all that right now. I think Jack Harlow has what it takes to create a major wave, and the staying power to ride it out.