Jackman by Jack Harlow Review


Daniel Doherty, Opinions Editor

I pretty much gave up on Jack Harlow after last year’s album “Come Home The Kids Miss You”. I mean sure, it gave us “Churchill Downs”, one of the best songs of the year, but you’d be lying if you said Drake’s verse didn’t carry that song. The only other notable songs from that album were the prophetic jam “Dua Lipa” and the Fergie-sampling “First Class”, which, while half-decent, was worn out quickly after it did the rounds on TikTok. Jack Harlow in the past few years actually had crazy potential; his 2020 release of “That’s What They All Say” and his feature on Lil Nas X’s 2021 hit “Industry Baby” made him seem like an unstoppable superstar rapper headed for the top. His critically panned 2022 album “Come Home The Kids Miss You”, however, deviated a little bit from his cheesy yet clever frat bro pop-rap and instead was straight up pop music. Jack Harlow, in my eyes, seemed like just another talented artist relegated to churning out boring industry-standard garbage, but his newest album, “Jackman”, might just be his salvation. 

“Jackman”, released on the 28th of April, is honestly the perfect length for a Jack Harlow release, at 10 songs for a total of 24 minutes. Harlow clearly knew how near-unilateral the reception to his album was and wanted to impress listeners from the start, and the first half of the album does just that. Jack Harlow addresses one of his biggest criticisms on the first track “Common Ground”. Harlow, as a white rapper, is often seen by rap fans as a sort of intruder, gentrifier, or money-hunger imitator of a black art form. Harlow acknowledges this and criticizes the similar role that white people sometimes play in popular culture (“The dialect got a lil’ splash of some black on it/Cap and gowns bought by the money in dad’s pocket”). The next two feature gorgeous soul-sampled pop-rap beats and clever, slick, and expectedly braggadocious bars; the first one in particular, “They Don’t Love It”, is incredibly upbeat and has an infectious, almost J. Cole-esque hook. “Gang Gang Gang”, the fifth track, features the album’s best beat, where a repeating vocal sample rides over a background with smooth bass and sparse drums, giving the song a dark and brooding feeling. The song reaches a level of seriousness that one would not expect from an artist like Jack Harlow. The storytelling lyrics talk about members of his childhood friend-group committing heinous acts in adulthood like rape and child molestation, and Jack describes the deep betrayal he felt after learning all of this (“Unconditional love becomes very conditional/When push comes to shove/And all that talk of taking bullets suddenly feels foolish”). The album takes a bit of a dip after the first half; the sixth song “Denver” and the last song “Questions” are pretty boring. “No Enhancers” is half decent but has a catchy beat, while “It Can’t Be” is possibly the best song on the album, with a great beat underneath Jack’s best rapping and flow on the album. “Blame On Me”, another serious song, has a decent yet generic pop-rap beat carried by a vocal sample that also serves as a good chorus. Jack discusses family issues, first rapping from his point of view, and then his older brother’s, and then from his father’s perspective. 


Overall, Jack showed us that he’s still got it. While I am by no means saying that this is an excellent album, his pen game here is strong and he certainly knew what type of reception he would get when he chose these beats. Jack Harlow still might sell out in the future- but I don’t think we’re all done enjoying him just yet.