Out of seemingly nowhere, Jack Harlow has become a powerful force in the music industry.
He’s charted several hit singles, his forthcoming sophomore album Come Home the Kids Miss You (expected May 6) is already one of the most highly anticipated of 2022, and he has new projects in other fields just on the horizon.
At the same time that his music is reaching the masses, the rapper and singer has become something of an unexpected heartthrob, with men and women professing their love for him online (there are plenty of examples if you only look).
While he’s become very successful relatively quickly (or at least that’s how it appears), many still don’t know who he is or just how much of an ally he is.
So, here are five things to know about Jack Harlow.
Harlow is still very young — he’s only 24 — but he has already been working on his craft for more than a decade. According to one feature, when he was just 12, he asked his mom how he could become the greatest rapper in the world. She apparently told him that he needed to practice for hours per day for years, and he didn’t have an issue with that.
Throughout high school, Harlow played concerts in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and by the time he graduated, he was already selling out venues with capacities in the hundreds. He took odd jobs to support his music creation, and it wasn’t long after finishing his schooling that his career took off in a major way.
Harlow hit a new high on the Hot 100 songs chart in America in 2021 as a featured artist on Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby.” That tune took its time climbing to the summit, but it did eventually rise to No. 1, becoming Harlow’s debut champion in the U.S. and Nas X’s third. One chart-topper is enough for any artist to celebrate, but it turned out to be just the beginning for him.
This week, Harlow’s new single “First Class” starts at No. 1 on the Hot 100, giving him not only his second leader, but his first chart-ruling debut.
Launching a new cut atop the ranking of the biggest hits in America is still a feat reserved for only the biggest acts in the industry, and the most recent artists to have done so include Coldplay and BTS (“My Universe”), Taylor Swift (“All Too Well [Taylor’s Version]”) and Harry Styles (“As It Was”), just last week.
The music video that accompanied “Industry Baby” was controversial from the moment it arrived, which is par for the course when it comes to Nas X.
The clip featured the star dancing in a prison shower with several other handsome Black men, and while the best bits were pixelated beyond recognition, it appeared that they were all nude. Of course, conservatives had a field day with the visual, but Harlow was all for it.
In an interview with Variety, Harlow was asked if he would have appeared in the scene, and he didn’t shy away from answering the question. “If he’d asked me, I would have done it. I was following his lead!”
In the same chat, Harlow praised his collaborator and what he means to so many fans. “I think he’s giving a voice to a lot of people and kids who could use one,” he began. “I think the community he represents could use someone who’s succeeding on a mainstream level — it doesn’t have to be a niche thing.”
Harlow scored his first real hit in 2020 with his single “Whats Poppin.” The tune was rising the charts, and once fellow hip-hop musicians DaBaby, Tory Lanez and Lil Wayne jumped on board, the cut shot to No. 2 on the Hot 100. That song scored him his first Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance, though in 2021 the honor went to Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé’s “Savage.”
That might have been a bummer, but Harlow would soon be back, and with even more love from the Recording Academy. At the 2022 ceremony, he was up for two awards, both for his work with Nas X.
Their collaboration “Industry Baby” was in the running for Best Melodic Rap Performance, though the prize went to Kanye West, The Weeknd and Lil Baby for “Hurricane.” He was also up for Album of the Year as a featured act on Nas X’s Montero, though Jon Batiste upset and collected the top trophy for his incredible body of work We Are.
A remake of the classic film White Men Can’t Jump has been in the works since 2017, with black-ish creator Kenya Barris pushing the project. The title seems to be moving along, as famous athletes Blake Griffin (of the Los Angeles Clippers) and Ryan Kalil (from the Carolina Panthers) are slated to produce and bring some star power to the production.
In early 2022, it was revealed that Harlow had secured a role in the upcoming reworking. Apparently, he scored the job based on his first-ever screen audition, so he must have some talent that the world hasn’t seen yet.
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