Jack Harlow is a 22-year-old rapper from Kentucky. After releasing his hit single “Whats Poppin” in January, he became one of the hottest rising artists in the game earning even more recognition due to Lil Wayne, DaBaby, and Tory Lanez, eventually hopping on its remix. Yesterday, Harlow released his anticipated debut album Thats What They All Say. With features from Big Sean, Brison Tiller, and Lil Baby, can Jack Harlow prove he’s here to stay?
While Harlow’s last efforts depict him as a borderline corny hitmaker, this 43-minute solo experience opens up his artistic arsenal into some pretty exciting directions. Off the rip, the cocky but introspective “Rendezvous” paints a picture of Jack’s entire life where he alludes to his past and toasts to his future. While this seems like a straightforward topic to address in rap these days, the swaggy lyricism and laid back delivery of Jack Harlow give him a desirable presence in this regard. Building on this, we learn more about his backstory and upbringing on cuts like the family-oriented “Baxter Avenue” and the triumphant “Keep It Light”. Hearing the young MC talk about everything from how his artistic parents shaped his work ethic to the late nights he spent in the studio does a surprisingly compelling job of adding depth to a character many thoughts was as dense as they come. Out of all these close to home moments, “Funny Seeing You Here” serves as the climax due to the depressing monologue from Harlow to his long time ex-girlfriend. Moving past this, most of the record is made up of some standard sounding bangers, but most are actually engaging. With Big Sean’s show-stealing verse on “Way Out”, the Kentucky rapper playing between vocal pockets on “Route 66”, and the iconic player’s anthem “Whats Poppin”, there’s more than enough in the turn-up department offered. Topping the rest of these roof raisers, the glorious “Tyler Herro”, and the reckless “Face of My City” with Lil Baby solidify Jack Harlow’s ability to create memorable, catchy bangers due to their witty one-liners and semi-creative ideas. Rounding out the commercial-oriented side of the LP, there’s “Luv Is Dro”, which is a typical R&B track with Static Major and Brison Tiller and the overwhelmingly positive “Same Guy”. Featuring Adam Levine, Harlow and the Maroon 5 leader confess their wrong-doings and, with the assistance of a godsent gospel choir, toast to a better tomorrow. Despite all these positives, it’s not all salvageable here as cuts like the Chris Brown featured “Already Best Friends” and the terribly delivered “Creme” tear down the overall quality of the album marginally. While there are no tracks that made me jump out of my chair or anything, Jack Harlow offers a solid experience that offers more than most guys within his lane can.
Behind the boards, there’s a well put together soundtrack that creates the best undertone possible for Harlow’s vocals. From the soul samples on “Funny Seeing You Here” to the warping synths on “Face of My City”, it’s truly the subtle details that make these trap beats stand out. Despite going for the relatively same sound, most of the tracks feel pretty distinct, which is a clear upside within the soundscape. Whether it’s the Morrocan drum pattern on “21/C Delta” or the jazzy sample inserted into “Keep It Light”, the array of influences from other cultures and genres play a significant role in making going from track to track feel like a progressive journey. While “Same Guy” and “Already Best Friends” may get a little too poppy for mosts liking, the sonic psychedelics on “Route 66” and the morphed horn pattern on “Tyler Herro” do their best at drowning these lackluster portions out. Along with the jetsonmade produced “Whats Poppin”, Hit-Boy’s “Rendezvous” is the surefire sonic stand out due to its intricate loop and pulsing baseline. As a whole, the soundscape on Thats What They All Say does a splendid job at watering the trap formula that’s drying out the creativity in the mainstream currently.
In conclusion, Thats What They All Say is a solid debut record that thoroughly showcases Jack Harlow has a bright future in rap. He’s fairly versatile, and with a great beat selection, he was able to make an experience that fans old and young can enjoy something in. Going forward, if Harlow wants to achieve true greatness, he will certainly need to become more focused and hone his skills but in the meantime, where he’s at right now is more than alright.
- Jack Harlow’s fairly versatile
- Some emotional depth
- Memorable bangers
- Good soundtrack
- Loses focus at times
- A little corny
- Pop songs are not good
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop