Jack Harlow has been making music his whole life— and he’s starting to like what he hears. “I used to want to show people I could rap. Now, I want to enjoy what I’m hearing. I want to be authentic. That’s what art is.” At 20 years old, the hip-hop artist is wise beyond his years.
“Louisville is who raised me,” the Kentucky native says, his voice imbued with a discernable drawl. “We had our own slang. Our own culture.” Harlow’s musical inspirations spanned genres, from Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to A Tribe Called Quest and Fergie. By 12, he used the mic from his Guitar Hero game to lay down his first song. “I was putting out songs on Facebook and YouTube, just for people from my middle school to hear,” he remembers. “I hadn’t even hit puberty.” While other kids were still figuring out adolescence, Harlow knew music was his calling. “It didn’t take long for me to want to do music as a career. It was always my dream. It’s been so long that I’ve wanted to do this that it doesn’t even feel like I have to motivate myself. It’s like second nature.” He caught the ears of a veteran music manager at 14 and multiple major labels. Although nothing coalesced, the nod gave Harlow (and his family) a boost of confidence in his burgeoning career.
Things began to take shape while at Atherton High School. “I started recording more and more, writing and shooting videos. I was finding myself a little bit. Telling people who I was through the records,” he says. The indie grind produced Harlow’s first commercial project, 2015’s The Handsome Harlow EP followed by 2016’s 18 which introduced breakout hit, “Ice Cream,” putting him on his hometown map. “I got really lucky to create buzz in my hometown and to have my city behind me.” With “Dark Knight,” from 2017’s Gazebo, Harlow would soon have the whole world behind him. The dark visual—reflective of the moody and introspective project—struck a nerve. “Dark Knight” would be Harlow’s first music video to notch over 1 million views on YouTube. The secret to his success? Keeping it 1000. “It was organic. It wasn’t gimmicky. It was just us.”
As the industry began to take notice Jack packed his things and left for Atlanta. He continued building a buzz for himself while also beginning studio sessions and creating new connections. It was only a matter of time before he crossed paths with Generation Now founders DJ Drama, Don Cannon and Leighton Morrison. In early 2018 Jack inked a deal with Generation Now and Atlantic Records marking a new beginning for himself which is reflected in his current project, Loose. Thematically, the project mirrors its title. "It’s fun. It’s less calculated,” he says. “It’s a side you haven’t seen yet.” It’s just one more side to the multi-faceted Jack Harlow. “I like to rap my ass off. I like melodies. I feel like I’m becoming a complete artist,” he says. “I don’t feel like I’m there yet but I think I’m in a good space.”