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Jack Harlow

Jack Harlow

Jack Harlow's charisma, bracingly honest lyrical style, and raw talent as a rapper have taken him from the early days of his regional buzz as a teenager coming up in Louisville, Kentucky's local hip-hop scene to worldwide commercial success. Examining the pains, victories, and boredom of youth with an honesty and vulnerability lacking in many of his peers, he went from songs about partying and hanging out on 2015's Handsome Harlow EP to tracks with more nuanced lyrics about sexuality, depression, and self-doubt on the 2017 mixtape Gazebo. His growing acclaim led to a record deal with Atlantic Records subsidiary Generation Now, which released his full-length project Loose in 2018. Two years later, he returned with a proper debut album, That's What They All Say, which included guest spots from Lil Wayne, DaBaby, and Big Sean, among others. Following his Grammy-nominated 2021 single with Lil Nas X, "Industry Baby," Harlow showcased his ever-maturing style on 2022's guest star-heavy Come Home the Kids Miss You and his fully solo 2023 endeavor Jackman.

Jack Harlow was born in Louisville in 1998 and had begun rapping and writing rhymes by the time he was 12. As a high schooler, he fell in with the city's underground hip-hop scene, performing locally and releasing songs online that tended more toward topics of fun and adolescence. His debut EP, Handsome Harlow, surfaced in 2015, followed by a more fully fleshed-out 2016 mixtape, 18. Harlow showed significant maturation on the next year's Gazebo mixtape, which included the frenetic single "Dark Knight." Regional attention and tours began to attract the notice of labels, particularly DJ Drama's Generation Now imprint, a sublabel in the Atlantic Records family. The label released Harlow's 2018 mixtape Loose, which included cameos from K Camp and CyHi the Prynce. Another mixtape followed on Generation Now a year later with Confetti.

In 2020, Harlow returned with the EP Sweet Action, which featured guest appearances by CuBeatz, Jetsonmade, Pooh Beatz, Puand, and 2forwOyNE. Included on the set was the track "What's Poppin," which hit number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart. Later that year, Harlow issued the singles "Tyler Herro" and "Way Out," both of which landed on his first album, That's What They All Say. Boasting features from Lil Baby, Bryson Tiller, and Lil Wayne, the rapper's debut set offered a wide selection of mellow trap anthems. It nearly topped the hip-hop albums chart and peaked at number five on the Billboard 200.

2021 saw Harlow issue a string of singles, including a chart-topping, Grammy-nominated collaboration with Lil Nas X, "Industry Baby." He also paired with Pooh Shiesty for "SUV's (Black on Black)." In May 2022, he released his sophomore full-length, Come Home the Kids Miss You, which found him embracing an even more sophisticated, bangers-heavy approach. A star-studded production, it featured guest spots by Pharrell Williams, Drake, Justin Timberlake, and Lil Wayne. The album also spawned Harlow's second number one Hot 100 single with "First Class." He took a decidedly different approach for his third LP, Jackman. The record was completely free of guest features, with Harlow at the mike solo on songs addressing his struggles with fame, his place in the rap game, and deeper personal issues. The ten-track album was announced two days before it was released in April 2023, just before Harlow's acting debut in a remake of the 1992 film White Men Can't Jump. ~ Fred Thomas

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