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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Jack Harlow – “Come Home the Kids Miss You” review

Jack Harlow is a 24 year old rapper & songwriter from Louisville, Kentucky who broke 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 his full-length debut That’s What They All Say that same winter, which was pretty mediocre in my opinion. However, I still went into this sophomore effort of his with an open mind given some of the features that were revealed earlier this week.

“Talk of the Town” kicks off the album with a sample of “No No No” by Destiny’s Child so Jack can speak on coming a long way from Bardstown whereas “Young Harleezy” is a generic trap cut with braggadocious lyrics. “I’d Do Anything to Make You Smile” follows it up with a corny romance ballad produced by Boi-1da, but then “1st Class” is no better as he pretty much bastardizes the classic single “Glamorous” by Fergie & Ludacris.

Meanwhile on “Dua Lipa”, we have Jack simping over the titular singer accompanied by a bland trap beat just before “Side Piece” butchers “Beautiful” by Snoop Dogg talking about wanting to bring DeJ Loaf home to meet his family. “Movie Star” is one of the better cuts on the album thanks to Pharrell’s bassy instrumental & his verse at the back end declaring themselves as such, but then “Lil Secret” gets back to the tepid lovey dovey bullshit even though the GoldLink sample is impressive.

“I Got a Shot” is such a pathetic attempt at him hitting on any bitch he wants over a tropical beat while “Churchill Downs” has a more skeletal approach talking about where he’s at now & Drake just phones his verse the fuck in down to the cringy Pusha T jabs. “Like a Blade of Grass” shoots for a moodier vibe with uneventful storytelling about a woman he met in the dark & “Parent Trap” picks it up with cold trap production from Timbaland talking about his lover holding him down.

The song “Poison” with Lil Wayne sees the 2 comparing their significant others to such over a cloudy trap instrumental sampling “Mrs. Officer” while the penultimate track “Nail Tech” is a decently victorious ballad about the “king” if you can even call him that being back in his hometown. “State Fair” on the other end closes out the album with some hi-hats & a mellow atmosphere reflecting on fame.

What else do y’all want me to say beyond that? I still don’t see what’s so appealing about Jack because this album to me is even worse than That’s What They All Say was. Not that I have anything against pop rap since I’ve made that clear as day if you look at some of my past reviews in the subgenre, but Jack’s performances/songwriting are primarily mediocre mixing that with some decent features & annoying production.

Score: 1.5/5