For his third studio album, Jack Harlow is taking a different approach. On April 26, 2023, the Kentucky rapper surprised fans by announcing via social media that his new album, titled Jackman., would be released in just two days. There were no pre-released singles on the radio or music videos to accompany the album—just an album cover featuring Harlow without a shirt.
This is far cry from a rapper with big wins like “Whats Poppin”/“Whats Poppin (Remix)”, doing a music video with Drake at The Kentucky Derby, being in big time commercials, hosting Saturday Night Live, and doing a song with Lil Nas X that visuals currently sit at almost a half a billion views on YouTube.
Are we getting a different version of Jack Harlow this go around or is the white rapper just getting this album out the way before his White Men Can’t Jump reboot drops? Let’s take a listen to Jackman. by Jack Harlow.
1. Common Ground
Produced by Angel López, Jay-Soul, Mike Wavvs, & Niko The Great
The intro kinda surprised me. It has Jack Harlow talking about gangster rap and it’s (mostly) suburban white audience and the divide between the two. He makes some points (“Never seen the hood, still can’t help but have comments/Never had a convo with a kid from that climate”) but it’s weird that he never really states if he is different or not adding to that point. Let me find out Jack Harlow is from the hood (I don’t think he is). There is also a line where Trap Lore Ross swears he is dissed on (“Condescendin’ suburban kids growin’ up to be rap journalists/Writin’ urban myths about who they think is the best urban kid”) but that could be a lot of people.
The production samples the group Jade’s “When Will I See You Again (Intro)” and if this means the next Hip-Hop trend is sampling 90’s R&B female trios, then I’m all for it. I’m saying all that to say that the beat is nice. The message is all over the place but Jack starts off on the right foot.
2. They Don’t Love It
Produced by Hollywood Cole
I talked about “They Don’t Love It” as well as the music video here. The song samples Connie Laverne’s “Can’t Live Without You” and the sped up vocals honestly remind me of something Kanye West would have rapped on during his The College Dropout/Late Registration era. That’s not a bad thing. Even Jack rapping about not meeting his future wife in the club and shouting out local Louisville landmarks add to this.
This is also the song where Jack says he is the best white rapper since Eminem. Well, he says it like this:
The hardest white boy since the one who rapped about vomit and sweaters
And hold the comments ’cause I promise you I’m honestly better than whoever came to your head right then
They ain’t cut from the same thread like him
They don’t study, doin’ work to get ahead like him
They don’t toss and turn in the fuckin’ bed like him
It’s not only false (R.I.P. Mac Miller) but that delivery could have been way better? “Vomit and sweaters”? Nah. But props to him trying to grab the, uh, “Best White Rapper Since Eminem” crown. I still like the song though.
Produced by Wallis Lane & Goldy Jr
Okay. Three songs in, I think I see the sound Jack is going for. Another soul sample, this time being from 7th Wonder’s “Living My Life Just for You.” I don’t mind at it though. “Ambition” has Jack talking about his come up from ages 14 to 19 to 24. But the production sounds kinda, pimpish, I guess? Like it would have been the “pimpin” track on another rapper’s album (Probably with a Snoop feature or something). It’s not bad. Sort of bland but I still like the beat.
4. Is That Ight?
Produced by Hollywood Cole & Mario Luciano
When people say that Jack Harlow bites Drake’s flow and style a lot, it’s because of songs like “Is That Ight?”. But is it biting if the rapper gets a cosign from the rapper he is biting from? Yes. Yes it is.
The song is not bad though. Jack Harlow raps (and sings) about dealing with success (of course) and wanting his team to win. All this over an semi-opulant beat that makes to drink wine and shit. The song does include a sample but I can’t place it right now. All in all the song is ight.
5. Gang Gang Gang
Produced by Rashad Thomas
Okay. This song started out so good. Harlow rapping “Ride for my dawgs, lie for my dawgs, die for my dawgs” over a sample (“Baby Lulu” by Stereolab) going “Gang, gang, gang, gang, gang”. At that point, this was easily the hardest song off the album.
And then you find out the song is about Jack finding out one friend is a rapist and another being a pedophile. Who the fuck are hanging out with Mr. Jack Harlow?! Can I really play this shit loudly in my car now?
Besides that, in Hip-Hop you regularly don’t get songs about cutting off friends for doing super weirdo shit, so I give points for that.
Still, somebody do a remix of this and make it about some real “Gang Gang Gang” gangster shit. That sample is crazy.
Produced by FNZ & Angel López
“Denver” has Jack rapping about anxiety and questioning life in general (“Walkin’ past the homeless in a Rolex/Just got off the stage on the TODAY Show and I basically felt soulless”). The is done over a somber, guitar-driven beat that helps the point (Sampling “Do You Know” by Douglas Penn). It’s not a bad song but nothing really stands out. Plus, I’m not that into rich rappers trying to make me feel sorry for them. Nah, chief.
7. No Enhancers
Produced by DJ Dahi & Coop The Truth
“No Enhancers” feels like an interlude and is where Jack Harlow raps about how he likes his women natural and his girl does need and surgery or makeup (“She don’t need no enhancers/She don’t need no enhancers/She don’t need no enhancers”). Okay. I like the beat here (I can’t place the sample used). For some reason he threw in that his “homeboy just beat cancer”. That’s cool but it’s just in there because it rhymes with “no enhancer”. The song is okay though. Nothing crazy.
8. It Can’t Be
Produced by Rashad Thomas
Jack lets the world know that he didn’t get this far on his skin color alone. He sarcastically lists all the reasons he is successful:
It can’t be my pen, it can’t be these verses
That make people feel like I’m talkin’ to them
It can’t be the homage I’ve paid
Nights when I could’ve left the studio early, but I stayed
It can’t be the tone of my voice
It can’t be the thought I put into every choice
And he is mostly right. I mean, him being white does help, but still.
I like the form of this song and the way it’s set up. The triumpnaht beat uses “I Love You Dawn” by Bill Withers as it’s base and it works.
9. Blame On Me
Produced by Hollywood Cole, Azul, Gray Hawken, Boi-1da, & Angel López
Technically and creatively, “Blame On Me” is propably the best song on the album. Each verse has Jack Harlow speaking from the perspective of his younger brother, older brother, and his father. In an album full of short songs, this is the only song over three minutes and thankfully it’s done well. Funny enough, it’s probaby the song with the biggest chance of being a radio hit mostly due the sampled hook from “Blame” by Gray Hawken. I don’t know if Jack was trying to channel rappers like Biggie, Eminem, or Nas but he ended up possibly making a hit.
Produced by shy!!!
With the way the album went, I was expecting him to do more of a celebatory ending. Instead, “Questions” has Jack Harlow asking, uh, questions (33 questions to be exact). The Kentucky rapper asks all the things you would expect:
Why I gotta get so intimate with all my lovers?
Why I gotta cheat and make her question if I love her?
Why am I so flawed? Why am I so skeptical of God?
Why do I pretend like I didn’t see it when I saw it?
Why am I so bold to double back when I’ve been caught?
Why am I not the superhero I thought?
Or is it perfect as these diamonds I bought?
Over a laid-back production, the last track on this album features self-reflection and moods like that. It’s an okay ending. It fits the theme of the album but doesn’t end it on the highest note.
With Jackman., Jack Harlow attempts to create a more “Hip-Hop” album, prioritizing quality over quantity with its ten tracks, soulful samples, and absence of features. While this effort is commendable, Jackman. may not make it onto any “Best Of” lists at the end of 2023. Harlow shows growth in his lyrics, but he fails to reach the level required to elevate him beyond expectations. The production is cohesive, yet mostly unremarkable.
It’s uncertain whether Jackman. is Harlow’s best album to date. Fans of Jack Harlow were drawn to his previous hits like “What’s Poppin” or “Industry Baby,” which they won’t find replicated here.
However, listeners will discover a more introspective side of Jack Harlow, showcasing his depth as an artist. Yet, as a white rapper claiming to be the best since Eminem, Harlow falls short of expectations. Jackman. doesn’t quite fill those shoes.