Jack Harlow’s rise to stardom in the hip-hop community has undeniably focused attention on Kentucky. With his unique style, collaborations, and commitment to his roots, Harlow has not only been a beacon for his own career but has also provided a platform for other emerging Kentucky-based talents.
Harlow: The Early Years: Highland Middle School Start
Jackman Thomas “Jack” Harlow, born on March 13, 1998, has his roots in Louisville. This dynamic American rapper and songwriter embarked on his music journey when he was just 12. Using a Guitar Hero microphone and a laptop, he and a buddy made their first CD, Rippin’ and Rappin’, which they proudly sold at Highland Middle School. By seventh grade, Jack had upgraded to a professional microphone, marking his progression with the mixtape, Extra Credit, under the alias “Mr. Harlow.”
Major Label Attention
His determination was evident during his freshman year at Atherton High School (from where he graduated in 2016). At such a young age, he caught the eye of major record labels through his YouTube videos. However, Jack wasn’t ready to jump the gun. He declined these offers, showing a maturity beyond his years.
The Rise of Private Garden and The Homies: The Collective’s Creation
Jack’s ambition went beyond just individual stardom. He co-founded the musical collective, Private Garden, and later signed with Generation Now and Atlantic Records. The collective features Jack’s frequent collaborators, known as the Homies. This group consists of Louisville-based talents like Ace Pro, Shloob, Quiiso, Ronnie Lucciano, and 2forwOyNE.
2forwOyNE: A Name to Remember
2forwOyNE is an artist from Louisville and a prominent member of Private Garden and The Homies. His unique sound in Growin’ Pains, released in 2020, caught the attention of many, including Harlow himself. Jack didn’t hesitate to label 2forwOyNE as the next significant talent from Louisville. He emphasized the fresh, distinct sound, urging fans to embrace it.
Chart-Topping Success: Collaboration Achievements
Jack Harlow’s talent has led to chart-topping singles. “What’s Poppin” skyrocketed to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2021, his collaboration with Lil Nas X on “Industry Baby” clinched the top spot, marking his first chart-topping hit. His dedication to the craft continued with the release of his second album, Come Home the Kids Miss You, in 2022. The album’s single, “First Class,” not only became his second number-one hit on the Hot 100 but was also the first to debut at the pinnacle.
Jack’s collaborations extend beyond the music industry. In 2021, he collaborated with Kentucky Fried Chicken and its parent company Yum! Brands to contribute a combined $250,000 to the American Red Cross. This was in response to a devastating tornado in Kentucky.
Acknowledgments and Civic Contributions: Jack Harlow Day
The city of Louisville celebrated its star in 2021 when Mayor Greg Fischer proclaimed December 28 as Jack Harlow Day. This was a testament to the rapper’s influence on the city and the broader music scene.
Jack’s commitment to Louisville and its community runs deep. He’s a staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and attended rallies protesting the unfortunate killing of Breonna Taylor, which transpired in his hometown.
Stepping Into Acting: Hollywood Calls
2022 saw Jack Harlow venturing into the world of acting. He’s set to appear in a reboot of the iconic 1992 film White Men Can’t Jump. Further, he’s joined the star-studded cast of the Apple TV+ film, The Instigators, alongside the likes of Matt Damon and Casey Affleck.
Sports Enthusiasm: Showing Love for the Home Team
Jack Harlow, like many rappers, stays true to his roots in Kentucky. He is a big sports fan and has been seen at many major sporting events. This last week Jack Harlow stormed the field with fans after his Louisville Cardinals upset 10th-ranked Notre Dame at Cardinal Stadium on October 7. You can bet Kentucky Sportsbooks saw plenty of action on this game now that the Bluegrass state has recently legalized online gambling.
Harlow was down on the field the entire game, ready to mix it up with fellow Louisville fans, not up in a suite sipping champagne. Louisville is no longer the best-kept secret in college football.
This year, Jack added another feather to his cap by launching the Jack Harlow Foundation. Its mission is to uplift and support organizations striving to enhance Louisville. Jack’s third studio album, Jackman., released on April 28, had fans speculating a return to his older musical roots. Jack’s collaborations continued to create buzz, especially his collaboration with the renowned rapper, Drake.
“Churchill Downs”: A Harlow-Drake Masterpiece
Their collaborative track, “Churchill Downs,” pays homage to the famed horse racing complex in Louisville. The name itself resonates with the essence of Kentucky, being the location of the legendary Kentucky Derby.
This year, Harlow and Drake graced the event, attending alongside other illustrious personalities such as DJ Drama, Michael Jordan, Lewis Hamilton, and David Beckham. It wasn’t just a musical collaboration; it was an emblem of Harlow’s dedication to representing Kentucky on the global stage.
Influences and Inspirations: Drawing From Legends
Every artist has their muses, and Jack Harlow is no different. His music is influenced by a medley of artists across a multitude of genres. Eminem, Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Outkast, Paul Wall, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Hall & Oates, Fergie, and Jesse McCartney have all played a part in shaping his unique sound.
But it’s not just the music that moves him. Harlow has always expressed a deep appreciation for cinema, aspiring for his songs to capture the essence of “short films.” Legendary filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Alfred Hitchcock have played pivotal roles in his artistic vision.
Kentucky’s Hip-Hop Beacon: From Louisville to Global Recognition
Jack Harlow’s journey from a young boy in Louisville rapping with a Guitar Hero microphone to a global hip-hop sensation has been nothing short of inspiring. As he continues to push boundaries and elevate Kentucky’s status in the hip-hop world, one thing remains certain: Jack Harlow is here to stay, and he’s bringing Kentucky along for the ride.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.