Why you should love Jack Harlow?

The Louisville native’s songs and personality set him apart


Courtesy of Flickr

Jack Harlow performs during the Osheaga music festival in 2018.

Ameya Bellamkonda, Contributing Writer

Jack Harlow’s “First Class” wasn’t just the song we wanted but the song we needed, and it dropped Friday, April 8. As we’re just coming out of a global pandemic, everyone from the girls to the gays to the theys is gonna be spending their entire hot girl summer blasting Harlow’s newest release. We needed a song to inspire the girlboss in all of us — and Harlow came through.

Harlow, known as the man who sniffed a Victoria’s Secret thong that was thrown at him during a performance, is an ideal man that people around the world unanimously love. This is his second release of 2022, coming after his single “Nail Tech” — another certified banger. This song is inspired in part by Fergie’s 2007 song, “Glamorous”, where Fergie sings “G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, yeah G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S”. The similarities can be seen in Harlow’s chorus “I been a (G), throw up the (L), sex in the (A.M.), uh-huh (O-R-O-U-S, yeah).”

Harlow, 23, has won two Grammys for Best Melodic Rap Performance with Lil Nas X and Album of the Year as featured artist and songwriter. Harlow has also won two Billboard Music Awards for fan-voted Top Collaboration and Top Rap Song. Beyond just producing great music, Harlow is a stand-out for being a successful white rapper/R&B singer in a predominantly-Black industry.

Way back in 2017, Nicki Minaj made the comment, “It’s a great time to be a white rapper in America”, and she wasn’t wrong. While Harlow is immensely talented, a stream of white rappers followed the trajectory of Eminem, Machine Gun Kelly and Post Malone, all of whom have surpassed certain Black artists that may be better at rapping but fade in this industry. 

No doubt, it’s hard to be in the spotlight as a white rapper as there are tons of judgments, criticisms and comparisons thrown around, but that doesn’t really matter when the spotlight is where the money gets made.

However, Harlow has been using the spotlight to highlight Black women and Black artists in general. He collaborated with Lil Nas X — an openly-gay, Black rapper — and on all his albums and in his music videos, he features women of color. While there is an argument to be made that it seems as though he’s sexualizing these women, it can easily be counterargued that this is due to the nature of rap more than Harlow’s desire to fetishize and sexualize women of color.

There has always been a fear that white people would one day take over the rap/hip-hop/R&B genre, but Harlow has always known his place. To put it simply: when talking about rapping and the influence that the greats had on him, he talks about how he started rapping as a kid and was influenced by some of the most famous Black rappers. Even further, Harlow has made Black Lives Matter posts and — during a freestyle rap — took time to address an incident of police brutality in Louisville, Kentucky, his hometown.

If you are looking for a firm stance on how to feel about Harlow, I am not sure I could fully give you one. But if he were here, I’m sure he’d say: “Why do y’all sleep on me? I need reasons. Uh, I got plaques in the mail, peak season.” So maybe let’s see if he keeps making people go crazy and producing absolute killer songs.