Post by Lee Mcintosh

When it comes to hip hop, regional dominance plays a major factor in the overall impact and imprint that a region leaves on the culture. New York, LA, Chicago and Atlanta being the most recent, all have had numerous instances where artists seemingly sprouted all at once. However, it isn’t everyday that we hear an artist come out of Kentucky (the last being Bryson Tiller) and claim the throne as one of the best new artists to come out in this generation. All that being said, Louisville native Jack Harlow is here with his latest project, Confetti, and he’s ready to let the game know that he’s here and he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The Backstory

Although many people are just now getting hip to Jack’s music, he is far from a “new” artist, per se. His career began as early as 2015, when he would release projects under the Private Garden indie label that he co-founded. Years of playing the independent game finally paid off for Jack when he was introduced to the legendary DJ Drama. The pure talent impressed Drama enough to sign Jack to his Generation Now label under Atlantic Records — the same label that Drama signed Lil Uzi Vert to. Harlow’s first mixtape after being signed — Loose — picked up a lot of traction online and he gathered features from early collaborator 2forwOyNE, KCamp, and G.O.O.D. Music’s own Cyhi The Prynce. Having a huge feature such as Cyhi could cause any upcoming artist to feel gassed up or feel as if they have made it, but Jack feels otherwise.

The Album

On Confetti, Jack Harlow remains humble and grounded, yet focused and determined that his work has just begun — despite this being his second project as a signed artist. A lot of his previous work reflects on his grind and how he wants to make it to the top, and this theme certainly continues here. On the opening track “GHOST”, he raps: “I know that we got it, I might even guarantee it”, reflecting on the fact that he knows his time is now and he’s feeling on top of the world more than he ever has before in his career. On the flip side of that statement, the next track shows how he can feel that way but still avoid coming off in an arrogant or bragging manner. The track “ROTTEN” elaborates more on this feeling when he says They want me to flex, they don’t want me to be modest/In 2027 I’ll be purchasing a cottage”. The idea that the fresh young rappers have to be flashy, cocky and throwing money around is something far too common in this industry. Being only 21 years old, Jack is aware of the persona that the industry paints young artists out to be, yet he still remains true to self–not letting any fame or new money get to his head and diminish the goal of remaining himself.

On top of emerging into the game as an artist far different than his peers, Harlow also faces other struggles and concerns as a rapper. In an interview with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, he sat down and discussed the struggles that his race plays in his style of rap. During the interview, Peter brought up many points that “white people love white artists.” Conscious of the factor that race plays in his identity, Harlow stated:

“I got a lot of white fans because they feel like ‘ooh I can be that’. I have black fans but I don’t know if they ever have a moment where they say ‘I can be that, I see myself in him'”.

He then begins to speak about the importance of being multi-faceted and well-versed in all things hip-hop. Over the course of Confetti, this is done in such a way that comes off as genuine and pure, rather than forcefully over-ambitious. Harlow’s versatility stems from his love for hip-hip, formed when his mother put him onto countless classic rappers at a young age. By doing this, he has been able to form a unique style of rap where he can hang with the lyricists as far as spitting clever bars, while still being able to make songs that may fit into the current climate of music today — proving he is a Jack-of-all-trades (yes, pun intended).

Confetti only being 12 tracks long, Jack finds no issue with being able to cover all aspects of his craft on every single song of the project. Immediately upon play, speakers are welcomed with deep southern 808s, quick hi-hat and snare rolls, and the legendary “Gangsta Grillz” DJ Drama tag, starting the album off with the gritty, trap vibe, while giving flashbacks to the old Gucci Mane mixtape era sound. Jack easily switches up the tone on the track “THROUGH THE NIGHT” which features Kentucky native Bryson Tiller. The vibe of the song appeals a little more to the female audience, or anyone who wants an uptempo R&B kind of feel. All throughout, a sample of “U Don’t Have to Call” by Usher plays, really adding to the overall ambiance. Bringing things full circle, the music video is a perfect representation of just this, placing Jack and his homies in a roller rink, dancing and meeting females.

Adding to Jack’s unlimited arsenal of artistry, he also gets notably introspective on the second half of the album, tapping more into his past, his current stance on life, and where he will be in the future. The track “RAIN” is where he reflects a lot on his past and how things have changed drastically. This is one of the best tracks on the album by far, and one where we really get a sneak peek into Jack’s life and how the 21-year old sees the world around him.

“Know you tried cryin’, It didn’t help nothin’/ Funny how the time flies/ Middle school classmates in the Crime Times, these some tryin’ times/ My girl summertime fine, wintertime cold, too/ Everybody won’t accept nothin’ but the old you”

He then proceeds to talk about his dad and his absence in his life, even going to the extent of questioning what he’s rapping for. The song “RIVER ROAD” serves as the outro track in which Jack takes a second to reflect on life and where he’s headed going forward.

“Thinking ’bout what I don’t got yet/ Why I’m not hot yet/ Why the last project was something that I thought would make me something that I’m not yet/ It’s all a work in progress/ That’s what they tell me and I respond with, “I guess”/ I been wanting to get something off my chest, But it’s not time yet”

The Verdict

In an era of rap swinging back toward lyricism, Confetti is a major refreshment that arrives as a very much needed moment for hip-hop. It provides that perfect balance between technical and fun, which is something that is not that easily achieved by most artists making music today. The fact that this album is shorter than most project that have come out recently, yet still provides a wide array of content says something about Jack’s mindset as an artist. One way to assure that you will have the most longevity in the game is to make sure you cover all avenues and remain true to your craft. Jack Harlow’s Confetti is one album that will put him in a great stance in the rap game and assure that his head is on straight on the path of success.

Post By Lee Mcintosh