Jack Harlow Calls Out Whites Who Want To Be Black From Afar

Yesterday (April 28), Jack Harlow released third album. Jackman. is a 10-track offering, with zero features that clocks in at 24 minute. DJ Dahi, Boi-1da, and Hollywood Cole were among the producers involved on the Generation Now/Atlantic Records project, which follows Jack’s platinum debut and gold follow-up.

On the album, the 25-year-old Louisville, Kentucky MC confronts race. “Common Ground” kicks off the album, with commentary about white fans in Rap music, and their cultural voyeurism. “The suburbs are filled with ebonics and trap sonics / Frat boys sayin’, ‘No cap, put racks on it’ / The dialect got a lil’ splash of some Black on it / Cap and gowns bought by the money in dad’s pockets / White girls squattin’ try’na get that ass poppin’ / Caught back-talkin’ to their mom and dads often / Recitin’ Rap lyrics about murder and cash profit / Get to feel like a thug but don’t have to act on it / Local homicide rates got ’em astonished / Readin’ ’bout it on a laptop and pajamas / Microsoft Office to complete their assignments / Never seen the hood, still can’t help, but have comments / Never had a convo’ with a kid from that climate / That really has trauma, that really got taught to survive by any means,” he begins.

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Harlow examines appropriation without relation. “Common ground, ain’t that common / The festivals are filled with Larry Bird jerseys / College students in a hurry to jump to a four-count and say the, N-word / Business interns takin’ Molly, then Percs,” raps Jack. Moments later, the artist jabs at those in the Hip-Hop media. “Condesendin’ suburban kids growin’ up to be Rap journalists / Writin’ urban myths about who they think is the best urban kid, and who the worst is / And who’s authentic / And what the real Hip-Hop is, and who’s all in it.” In addition to Rap critics, episode #108 of What’s The Headline examines the validity of these opinions and lyrics, and whether these critiques apply to Jack Harlow’s fanbase. The song, less than two minutes, is also included atop the AFH playlist, as well as other Jackman. highlights.

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What makes “Common Ground” noteworthy is another song that follows. “It Can’t Be” also deals with race, but takes Harlow from critic to victim. “It must be my skin, I can’t think of any other reason I win / I can’t think of an explanation, it can’t be the years of work I put in / It can’t be the way that I stuck with the same friends /It can’t be the swag I got when I walk in, it can’t be,” he begins. Harlow also uses the opportunity to flex his Hip-Hop muscles. “It can’t be the thought I put into every choice / It can’t be the Jeep instead of the Rolls-Royce / It can’t be the downtime with my boys / It can’t be the Tribe and the Biggie and the Nas / The Outkast and the Missy in my iPod.

These songs are discussed at length on What’s The Headline (embedded above), as well as a broader album review. As Macklemore, Yelawolf, and Eminem (all white MCs) have spoken about appropriation and white privilege in Hip-Hop, the conversation analyzes the merits (and detractors) of Jack Harlow’s addition to this commentary. That discussion is at the top. Posthumous album releases, Pras’ recent conviction, and Kendrick Lamar’s record-setting tour are also covered.

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AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline. The podcast also features interviews with Royce 5’9, Guy Wood, Sr. and Sharene Wood, Rapper Big PoohCormegaMeyhem Lauren & DaringerDiamond DAZBlu & Mickey Factz, Joell OrtizKuruptEvidenceSkyzooPharoahe MonchPrince Paul & Don NewkirkStatik SelektahLyric JonesThe LOXMC EihtHavocDuckwrthphotographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse.