Jack Harlow’s ‘Jackman.’ is an intimate reflection with lyrical poise

Photo courtesy of Spotify

By Maximilian Diehl | Staff Writer

Jack Harlow’s newest album ‘Jackman.’ is a step beyond the swaggering facade of days past and into a foray into the genuine. The swagger is still ever present, but it feels a little more Harlow and a little less hollow. There are, however, a few misses across the track list and some vibes that aren’t exactly worthy of the missionary.

I’d like to think I’m a pretty positive guy, and most of my friends agree. But sometimes, the negative just has to be said. So let’s start with the bad and get to the good.

This album is suffering from some severely lackluster production quality, with many of the beats feeling half finished or touched up on an iPhone Garageband app. It’s somewhat shocking to see this level of production come from Harlow, as he has essentially become the newest star-child of West Coast hip-hop. While on the topic of his status, there is a line during “They Don’t Love It” in which Harlow alludes to his belief that he is the second-best white rapper of all time. I think this is an absolutely rancid take, almost as bad as saying Jayson Tatum is up there with MJ and LeBron. No, he’s not.

Sure, Harlow’s a young star with the skill and swagger to have an all-time best career, but there’s a gap to be bridged between them. It’s first Eminem, second Mac Miller and third, whoever you want. But I’ll throw Harlow a bone and make this his spot for now. And that’s not even to mention Paul Wall or the Beastie Boys or Post Malone. Love the confidence. But to quote most of my professors thus far at Baylor, “where is your proof for this claim?”

With the negative out of the way, I feel we can now focus on the many upsides to this album. Some of the lyricism on this album is great, Harlow’s flow is consistently enjoyable and there is a really consistent sound and aesthetic throughout the album. Further, there is a lot of cultural relevance to what he’s talking about. One of the worst parts about this album is just how short the songs are in general, but you know it’s solid because it leaves you wanting more. Let’s go down to some of the highlights of the track list and see.

“Common Ground”

This song is genuinely a song of the year candidate in my opinion. So many deep cuts to issues that Harlow has dealt with, his persona and a look into the way that wealthy suburban America loves to play “hood” in order to feel more validated in their interests and issues. The song really comes down to one line: “common ground ain’t that common”

“They Don’t Love It”

One of the highlights of the album, save one goofy line that I dissected above.


As new as he is to fame, it’s already lost its luster to Harlow. This is his way of letting us in on his journey, and a word of warning to say “don’t lose sight of your dreams when you get close, and don’t lose hope when you’re far.”

“Blame On Me”

Families are never easy. Clearly, Harlow’s wasn’t either. As someone with an older brother, this song hits very hard. Maybe I owe a few apologies that I wasn’t willing to admit to myself.

“It Can’t Be”

Jack Harlow takes on the haters, seemingly one last time. And as a last address, he tells the haters that it is most certainly the color of his skin that has allowed him to be successful. The long hours grinding in the studio, loyalty to family and friends, genuineness with audiences, charismatic personality and ability to empathize are all non-factors in his success, a great response to criticism here.

“Gang Gang Gang”

This song is certainly the most vulnerable on the album and one that speaks really closely on the pain of watching people in your life fall while you succeed. I also think it is something of a response to cancel culture, but that may be a completely wrong take. This one hurts to listen to. It’s almost too real, but is a great moment of genuine vulnerability.