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TRACK BY TRACK: Jack Harlow's 'Jackman.'

Written by Gabi Lamb. Published: May 04 2023
(Jack Harlow/YouTube)


Everyone has had a bit of a crush on Jack Harlow since his 2020 TikTok audio sensation “Whats Poppin”, and his chart-topping collab on “INDUSTRY BABY” with Lil Nas X has only cemented his place in our hearts. It’s an exciting year for the 6-time Grammy nominated artist -- his new album, Jackman., was released on April 28, and May 19 marks his acting debut in the Hulu remake of White Men Can’t Jump. In honor of Jack Harlow and his busy Spring, here’s our track-by-track breakdown ofJackman.!


1. "Common Ground"

“Common Ground” starts with a bluesy opening and a choir repeating hypnotically through the whole song. The walking groove of the bass undercuts Harlow’s voice, which discusses the whitewashing of rap music and white privilege. It marks a turn in subject matter for Harlow, and a delving into more serious issues that are not prevalent in his previous music. It seems Jackman. is set up to be his most intimate and critical release yet, even from the first song.

Favorite Lyrics: “Common ground ain’t that common...”




2. "They Don't Love It"

The glittering funk of “They Don’t Love It” speeds up the album pace and returns to typical themes of self-improvement and rising to become the best. It’s highly musical and dance-worthy — a fun listen that deepens the soundscape and uses a clapping track to keep a sharp syncopated rhythm. The sampling feels retro, but morphed with Harlow’s raps, it becomes distinctly modern.

Favorite Lyrics: “Can’t imagine that I’m gon’ meet my wife in the club / We gon’ see though, I feel like she more of a CEO”...




3. "Ambitious"

The slower flow of the synthesizer river that is “Ambitious” floats through the stages of Harlow’s life via his ambitions, from starting rapping at 14 through his current break into acting. The triumphant flourishes that segment the song are flashy but represent a quieter pride and confidence than we are used to from Harlow. The vibes are strong in “Ambitious”, and the airy vocal samples keep it chill.

Favorite Lyrics: “Looking at the crowd, they embarrassed for me, jeez...”




4. "Is That Ight?"

“Is That Ight?” shows a more sensitive side to Harlow and displays a desire for a different, slower lifestyle. Its minimalist piano sounds are ramped up by a snare-like backing track that keeps the pace, Harlow mixes his typical vocals with more melodic, singing pieces that create a sense of serenity in a song about wanting serenity. It’s clever how it mixes styles and offers an intimate view into his struggles, particularly when coming on a wave of songs celebrating his ambition and rise to fame.

Favorite Lyrics: “I’m so healthy and alive...”




5. "Gang Gang Gang"

The trippy swells of bass and murmuring voice alongside Harlow’s deadened monotone create an eerie and more serious atmosphere leading into “Gang Gang Gang”. It questions male complicity in sexual assault and the disparity between being friends with someone and discovering terrible things they have done. It’s extremely dark but creates a detailed and specific story which highlights a unique perspective on accountability and the feelings of betrayal when someone’s unsavory true colors are revealed.

Favorite Lyrics: “Years of camaraderie suddenly disappear...”




6. "Denver"

The guitar-heavy lilt of “Denver” makes a more minimalist approach for Harlow’s intimate confession on feelings of emptiness and depression despite having wealth and fame. The rock sample retains the general '60s/'70s feel of the album while pulling away from the distinct funk and blues sounds that dominate the rest of the album. It’s honest and stripped-down — a dark side to the self-celebration present in a lot of his other work.

Favorite Lyrics: “So many losing hope in those dreams that they--”




7. "No Enhancers"

The smooth groove of “No Enhancers” leads into the most romantic song offJackman. It’s sweet and dreamy in its repetition and celebrates natural beauty without artificial enhancement. It highlights the adversity women face in the expectations of modern beauty standards while relaying a message to women that they are beautiful as they are. It’s Harlow at his most heartthrob — who could complain?

Favorite Lyrics: “All the cards stacked against her / But she learning how to deal...”




8. "It Can't Be"

Back to the excitement, “It Can’t Be” quickens the pace and adds more techno elements in the soft underlying electronic beep. The intense swells of choir and driving sound of horns push forward Harlow’s perspective on being underestimated in rap. While perhaps a less critical societal lens than was attempted earlier in the album, it’s bold and honest in sharing his viewpoint.

Favorite Lyrics: “It can’t be the years of work I put in...”




9. "Blame on Me"

The glitchy sounds of “Blame on Me” continue the modern sounds of “It Can’t Be”, It’s less heavily produced than many of the songs on the album but peers deeply into Harlow’s rocky relationship with his brother. It’s refreshing in how Harlow examines family dynamics from his eyes and his brother’s; it documents the struggles of connection amid an environment where men are taught to be masculine in aggressive and cruel ways.

Favorite Lyrics: “Made you feel the weight of / Every single mistake that you made...”




10. "Questions"

The rolling bass and echoing voice samples give Harlow an opening where he questions himself and his flaws in a raw, unexpected way. It’s about his fears and uncertainties — it’s personal and relatable, more real than maybe anything Harlow has released thus far. It’s a perfect open-ended finish to Jackman.

Favorite Lyrics: “Why am I so flawed?”




Let us know your favorite track on Jackman. and be sure to watchWhite Men Can’t Jump this May 19 on Hulu!