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Jack Harlow’s rise in the mainstream may sound like the familiar tale of an industrial factory, but fame didn’t come overnight for the Louisville native. The Kentucky rapper has been striving to break into the rap game since he was 12, and when he finally hit the stage, he brought with him his shy charm and quirky, quirky humor. Harlow will headline Juice Jam this Sunday, so before spending $ 25 on the festival ticket, here’s a timeline of his rise to stardom.
2012: First rap videos online
Before releasing his first EP, Harlow was already recording music videos, one-off freestyles and remixes on YouTube and SoundCloud. His come-up is recorded in videos that can best be described as the heart of the 2010s, so they will resonate with current SU classes. Harlow spent the early years of this decade remixing and rapping on songs like “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Beez in the Trap” in YouTube videos that shamelessly feature the pale green walls of his childhood bedroom. and its double bed as a backdrop, juxtaposed with Harlow pop filter and microphone.
2013: Freestyle toilet seat
It’s just a video that everyone should see. This first clip from the archives showcases Harlow’s awkwardness and sense of humor. From his awkward flirtations with online comedian Druski to his weekly Instagram stories where he answers fans’ very personal questions with joking answers, Harlow has a sense of humor adjacent to the classy clowns that old videos prove to be. ‘he’s been in preparation since he was in high school. .
2014: “Finally beautiful”
The rapper’s debut EP under his current name is no longer available on streaming services as Harlow feared it would tarnish his reputation once he made it mainstream. Before “Finally Handsome” it went through Mr. Harlow and sometimes Handsome Harlow, but, as Harlow told Louisville.com in a 2017 profile, “My brand is true to myself.” Thus, Harlow ended up re-adopting his full name for all future albums.
2017: “Dark Knight”
After several failed recording contracts during his high school years, Harlow released his two post-high school albums under his own and his friends’ label, Private Garden. Finally, in 2018, Harlow signed with DJ Drama and Don Cannon’s Generation Now label, under Atlantic Records, after his groundbreaking single “Dark Knight” from his 2017 album “Gazebo”.
Harlow’s song “SUNDOWN” from “Loose,” his debut album with Generation Now, definitely put the Kentucky rapper in the spotlight. Genius recorded a verified video with him where he breaks down the song’s lyrics and, in classic Harlow fashion, opens the video with a never-ending, self-deprecating joke about a “big cock” line in the song. The Jack Harlow in this video looks like the one shown in more recent interviews at the Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards, but he looks different. It sports an awkward Coogi button as opposed to the silk shirts and sweaters he wears in more recent interviews.
January 2020: “WHAT POPPIN”
Jack Harlow started 2020 running, with “WHATS POPPIN” jumping from his album “Sweet Action” straight into TikTok videos, racking up over 300,000 bright videos that used his song as audio. It wasn’t over at the time, however – in June of that year, Harlow released the song’s remix and a video starring DaBaby, Tory Lanez, and Lil Wayne. The song was Harlow’s first number one on Billboard’s Rhythmic Songs chart, and Vulture magazine called it the song of the summer.
August 2020: XXL Freshman
In August 2020, Harlow joined the XXL Freshman 2020 class. He stood up to his classmates Polo G and Baby Keem in freestyles and cyphers because he didn’t hesitate to include in his raps the serious topics that defined summer 2020. He rapped about police brutality in his hometown of Louisville where law enforcement officers killed David McAtee, the owner of a barbecue stand, two months earlier.
December 2020: “That’s what they all say”
Harlow ended 2020 with another album that showed a huge leap from “Sweet Action”. “That’s What They Say” is packed with Louisville credentials and features from Louisville EST artists Gee and Bryson Tiller alongside hip-hop and R&B veterans including Big Sean, Lil Baby and Chris Brown.
2021: Grammy Award nomination
“WHATS POPPIN” was nominated for Best Rap Performance at the 2021 Grammys. Although it didn’t win the award, it was still a big moment for Harlow, who said he didn’t expect that his first great song produced such results. He told the Recording Academy: “I’ve always dreamed of being nominated, but I didn’t think it would happen so early in my career.”
August 2021: “Baby industry”
Harlow said he admired Lil Nas X long before he jumped on his song “INDUSTRY BABY”. The two share a light-hearted approach to social media – Harlow more on Instagram, Lil Nas X on Twitter – and Harlow told Variety he was more than excited to work with him. He said he had no qualms when it came time to be in the clip, and if Lil Nas X had asked, he would have even been in the nude shower scene. The song rose to number one on the Billboard charts for streaming songs, and the duo performed it at the VMAs in September.
Harlow has come a long way, from music videos shot in the halls of his high school to some of the biggest stages in music, and now to the Juice Jam stage in Syracuse this Sunday. But as he raps in “INDUSTRY BABY” he still has a long way to go: “I didn’t make it to the top in high school, I’m still here getting cuter.”
Posted on September 22, 2021 at 11:06 p.m.
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