Jack Harlow – “Jackman” review

This is the 3rd full-length album from Louisville recording artist, producer & actor Jack Harlow. Breaking through when the pandemic started off the single “What’s Poppin’?”, this resulted in DJ Drama & Don Cannon signing him to their Atlantic Records imprint Generation Now Entertainment as well as them putting out a mediocre full-length debut with That’s What They All Say that same winter & who could forget the arduous listen of a sophomore effort Come Home the Kids Miss You last spring? However, hearing that he dropped Jackman out of the blue over the weekend was in fact surprising & thought it’d be more introspective given that the titular is his real first name.

“Common Ground” opens the album with a string-heavy instrumental compellingly tackling the divide & arrogance between white-suburban children & black children raised in poorer neighborhoods to my surprise whereas “They Don’t Love It” works in a peppy beat talking about how no one is cut from the same thread as him when there are more skilled lyricists out there right now that you’re better off listening to. “Ambitious” looks back at his life in the last decade with a soul sample throughout that is until “Is That Ight?” talks about being minimalistic & grateful over a piano instrumental.

The settle vocal loop & claps throughout “Gang Gang Gang” enhance the atmosphere as Jack addresses his relationships with shitty people just before “Denver” making it clear that so many losing hope in those dreams with a jangly sample flip. “No Enhancers” has one of the strongest beats on the record courtesy of DJ Dahi even though the lyrics about all natural women seem forced while the playfully produced “It Can’t Be” obnoxiously tries to put a finger on why he gets shits whether it be the color of his skin or the swag he has. The penultimate track “Blame on Me” samples “Blame” by Gray Hawken thanks to Boi-1da opening up about his upbringing & “Questions” soothingly ties it all up pondering all these questions in his mind.

Given the fact that Jack Harlow’s output in the past has been mediocre at best & unlistenable at worst, a lot of people including myself weren’t expecting much going into Jackman. But surprisingly, it could very well be his most impressive body of work to date even though I still come away from it torn. The subject matter is more personal & the production isn’t as tepid, but the album’s biggest cardinal sin is the amount of corny bars throughout although I appreciate him trying to be more lyrical.

Score: 3/5

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