Jack Harlow: Come Home the Kids Miss You Album Review
Jack Harlow is a charming, tall and increasingly chiseled 24-year-old man who sports a mop of curly hair, incredibly tame and complemented by a youthful beard, bright blue eyes, a shy smile and a diamond earring. honking in each lobe. . Like any good heartthrob, he loves antics – he’s eager to flirt with the women he’s just met and say: I like Youor simply act like a goober in public. His second album, Go home you miss the kids, reveals that the staging is only a distraction from a tasteless and meaningless music. Harlow’s charisma doesn’t translate to the record, and instead we’re left with a one-trick pony with no discernible trick, a competent rapper who doesn’t flow intricately or write impressively, a pop star who struggles to carry a song of her own.
Harlow’s origin story repeats itself often: At age 12, he decided he wanted to be a rapper and got to work, training, recording and selling CDs at school. At 19, he created “Dark Knight”, the song that started a bidding war between major labels for his talents and ultimately landed him a deal with once-promising Atlantic imprint Generation Now. Just two years later, he made his first good song and real hit, “Whats Poppin”; then, after the release of his debut studio album, Harlow’s hype machine went into hyperdrive with “Industry Baby,” the Lil Nas X single where Harlow dutifully played the role of the straight man in the music video proudly gay. Alongside Lil Nas X, Harlow also delivered one of the best verses of his career, his middle approach a fitting complement to his co-star’s smoother delivery.
Stripped of a proper foil, however, Harlow’s swagger is muted. Despite sounding pompous, lead single “Nail Tech” is limp, largely due to its chintzy beat and Harlow’s reluctant vocals. He’s too flippant on the song, like he’s afraid to stray from his tried-and-true flow for something more expressive. In the music video, for example, he stands in a tank top holding three dogs, like he’s DMX, and he raps, “You’re not one of my dogs, why are you stalking us?” He winks, sneers, and claps his hand mockingly, saying, “dog”, but any implied aggression or snapping is lost on the recorded track.
Harlow’s ability to rap well acts as a bit of a hindrance to his ability to make good songs. He doesn’t have a definable trait or tick that could be parodied, preferring to keep things tidy and throw in terrible hints as well. (Worst might be “I can’t lie, I’m on Angus Cloud Nine” because “You know I like to dictate things, Kim Jong” is so obviously dumb it must be a joke.) His straightforward approach is similar to those of fellow Southerners Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby, the kind of comeback rappers from bars first but also make-it-pop who might not have stood out in the commercial landscape of the 2000s, but are anomalies in the day and age of vibrations. Unlike them, however, Harlow doesn’t make brilliant songs about Go home you miss the kids. The album, for the most part, consists of a monochromatic palette of generic “slick” rhythms, one bleeding into the other. Musically, it’s unsatisfactory, lacking remarkable melodies or exciting rhythms. The sound of Go home you miss the kidsin turn, is about as sophisticated and interesting as a Daniel Arsham sculpture, neat at a glance but tasteless after prolonged questioning.
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