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Jack Harlow: 'The world's going to turn on me soon'

Mr. Nimbus | 05/07/2022

Jack Harlow joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 for an extensive conversation and deep dive into his brand new album ‘Come Home The Kids Miss You’. He tells Zane about his childhood and humble beginnings, creative process, production and themes on the new album, becoming acquainted with fame, why humility is more important than ever, leaning into competition in rap, controlling the narrative, the blessings of financial freedom, curating his life on his own terms, and his forthcoming acting role in the ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ reboot. He also discusses studying the blueprints of Drake, Ye, and Jay Z, striving to add his branch to the tree of hip hop, his relationship with Lil Wayne, collaborating with Drake, Snoop Dogg, and Lil Nas X, and more.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music Why He Thinks One Day People Will Turn On Him…
The world’s going to turn on me soon. “Jack Harlow is the likable guy” and everybody like… But there’s going to come a time when they turn on me. I don’t know what it’s going to be, I don’t know why. I’m not trying to manifest it either. But I’m just saying inevitably that’s what happens. I see sparks of it just like any big artist sees. But all the people that are championing me are going to turn on me. And now I have a good feeling that they’re going to turn back around. I’m starting to realize that humility is just more important than ever right now. Just keeping a hold of that because it’s a long way down if you get with the hype.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About The Humble Beginnings of His Early Career and Being The Furthest Thing From an Industry Plant…
My career had very humble beginnings, that’s why anytime I see my name associated with anything like “industry plant”, it makes me so proud to really be able to say that I’m like, out of everyone in the game right now, one of the furthest from it. I didn’t skip any steps, bro, like I did steps none of these kids did. I talk about it on records, but I did open mics, I did South by Southwest, I did A3C, I did showcases with no one there. My first tour, I went to Madison, Wisconsin, did a bar with eight people in it, like I felt those feelings of not being the guy at all.Yeah, bravado on record, but then I’m going around and finding out I’m not the guy. I felt all, I did this, but it’s like you said, once you’re there in this bubble, and if people didn’t see any of that, they’re like, “Where’d he come from? Wow, he just got it dropped in his lap.”

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music What Makes Him Unique…
One time I saw somebody ask Erykah Badu that, they were like, “Erykah, how would you describe yourself?” and she was like, “I wouldn’t.” I was like, “That’s fly.” I just stuck with it, because it’s like I don’t want to describe myself. The simple traits, I like to think I just have some soul I inherited from my family. My parents are just soulful people… but I just feel like I’m truthful. I feel like if you’re truthful and you’ve got love in your heart, it’s just powerful.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Getting Acquainted With Fame…
I feel like I keep getting reacquainted to it, obviously… but when it goes up, when there’s that substantial jump, every time it feels like, “Oh, this is really what they’re all going through.” It just depends on the level, because the stuff that was happening before now doesn’t feel like fame in comparison, but it obviously is. I’d say last summer, I think summer of ’21 is when if I went outside, I was getting stopped, and now it’s like just…Yeah, it’s crazy. The magazine covers a great example, because it’s just like that’s existed my whole life as a perfect symbol of like….Like you’re there.

Jack Harlow on the Theme of His New Album ‘Come Home The Kids Miss You’…
That’s the theme of the project for me, is being from a place like Louisville, you get an opportunity to come back and you have this magic in your hands, like, “Look what’s going on out there, I brought back a piece for you. Check this out, look what I’m experiencing. I know you see it on the internet, but you want to see it up close? This is what it’s like.” Almost every song on this album, you could find me threading it back to the relationship of what I’m experiencing and the context that exists with Louisville, because that’s where everything gets grounded, that’s where my reflection comes from. I take these experiences where I’m flying through the Hollywood Hills or I’m on a private jet to Miami, really what makes that interesting is when I compound that with, “Yeah, but I’m from Louisville, Kentucky and I have to go back.” That’s not the foundation, like the independent variable was Louisville, and those are just little experiences we had, but I’m Louisville, you know what I’m saying? These are just little things we drop into the bowl that are just added, so those experiences, you nailed it, man, it’s all about what it’s like to go home after experience. I go through these things, I go through months I experience stuff no one from my city is getting to experience, and I take that home and go, “Let me tell you about it.”

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Studying The Blueprints of Drake, Ye, and Jay Z…
We’ve had our talks. But more than anything, I just take notes from him [Drake] on his actions. He’s leaving a blueprint behind, you know what I’m saying? The same way Jay left a blueprint. Same way Ye left a blueprint. He’s creating a blueprint that you don’t have to… It’s not rocket science to follow. You can just see, okay, these are some great decisions. You just see it. And so I just pull from the playbook of all the legends where it resonates with me. Ye is a huge one for me, just resonates with me massively. I see what he did. But I think it all just comes from just being the route of just not being a street artist. Because it’s just something so traditionally street about this genre. And if you’re not street… I’m not the first artist to come through that isn’t that. And so inevitably I’m going to take notes. Any comparisons I see, it’s inevitable where there’s a cloth, you know what I’m saying? This is just what comes with it.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music Why He Leans Into About Competition In Rap…
Heavy. I feel like if I don’t lean into that, it’s going to become obsolete, because it’s kind of gotten lost in the vibe era. Everything is a vibe. And when everything is a vibe, you just lose a little bit of that. I love what hip hop has grown into, I love how many different lanes there are, but that’s why we take this so seriously, is because I take notes from the roundtables. That’s really the answer I should have gave you for why that’s what it is on there, because I see people say, “I get a 2009 nostalgia when I hear your music,” and it’s because I’m influenced by that time. I think so many kids right now are like, “What’s right now feel like?” But I draw from what I used to feel, because I want that. I want that back a little bit, but of course we need it modern. But that’s what I came up on, and I think… I always talk about the artists from 10 years ago. Drake had Kendrick and Cole to think about when he was in the studio. Whether or not he was thinking about them or not, I don’t know. Kendrick had Cole and Drake to think about when he was in the studio. Guys that you’re like, I’ve got to bring it, because they’re going to bring it. It’s like a boxer. I better train. And so, sometimes I think about for my generation, obviously tons of talent. But when it comes down to writing, who am I suppose to be thinking about is who I got to bring it. And there’s some fair examples. There’s people could say, “What about him? What about him?” I think there’s some fair examples, but I think that culture just needs to be pushed more. I just wish there was more writers right now. I wish there was more people that were barring down.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Collaborating with Snoop Dogg…
He’s just so iconic. It’s just these unbelievable human beings. I feel like how they must have looked at Mozart or Beethoven. Snoop, we’re living amongst Snoop Dogg, just one of the most natural cool people. It’s crazy you were born, bro. I guess what I think about is, it’s crazy you exist. He did it in one take. He was like, “So what you want me to do?” I was like, “Yo, I just want you to pop your shit, press play.” He did that, and he’s like, “How’s that?” I was like, “It’s perfect.” And it was done. I went to his studio and everything.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About His Relationship with Lil Wayne…
First time I met Wayne was on the set of the WHATS POPPIN remix. Ultimate love. Then he interviewed me on his radio show. And then one time I was at a Clippers game and he was on the floor, and I was a few rows back. And I went up and tapped him on the shoulder and his security almost kicked my ass. He turned around and was… And I didn’t have his number so I was like “Let me get your number”. And I sat up, and for the next quarter of that game, we were texting back and forth about rap, paragraphs, me picking his brain, like why do you love it so much? You know what I’m saying? How do you prolifically just create, create? What do you love about doing verse, after verse, after verse? Because that’s what he does. He just records. He’s a machine. And I’m envious of those machine-like qualities, because it’s like I love it too, but I’m not a machine. Can’t be everyone, there’s things that make you who you are that make up for this. It’s actually a strength. So I’m at peace with it but I still look and I’m like “Wow”, it’s just so impressive. He’s the man.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Collaborating With Lil Nas X on “Industry Baby” …
I felt like as I was recording the verse, I felt like in 10 years, I’m going to be very proud of this. I feel like my grandkids are going to see this, and once they understand the context of everything, they’re going to be like, “Wow. My grandpa did the right thing. It’s tough.” Yeah, I definitely was like, “This is fun. This is progression.” That’s one thing, the success I’m having, and people are coming around, and the music is working, but one thing I’m really looking forward to next is, I know I have to make contributions… and do new s**t, push the s**t forward. I’ve done some things, I’m having some success, but I haven’t fully added my branch to the tree of hip hop yet. I haven’t brought my branch where people can point and Jack Harlow and say, “Here’s what he added that no one was giving us before.” I fully plan on doing that. And I’m not saying that’s what that was, but that decision to me felt like one of those steps of like, not everybody would take that step, but it made total sense to me. The song was good, he’s amazing. I loved making the decision. It felt really good.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About The Production on ‘Come Home The Kids Miss You’…
No beats out of packs. No finished, glossy, fruity loops, here you go, ready to go, rap over the MP3, and bounce it, we’re good to go packs. And I was already moving away from that on That’s What They All Say, but there’s a few records on there that just got done. That’s not necessarily a law. If an amazing beat comes, it comes. But for the most part, we’re building from scratch. And I’m touching everything. I am helping produce this album. We have some amazing producers on this album, Angel Lopez and Rogét Chahayed steering this. But at the same time, I’m right there with them. “Hey, these are the drum sounds I want. That chord. That’s it. That’s it.” My taste level just went up, what I care about went up, and I’m sure it’ll go up again. Sometimes, I think one day I’m going to be mixing and mastering my music. I’m not going to say it’s for sure, I’m not going to say it won’t happen. It’s just I could see myself getting to a place where I’m like, I know what I want so much that I’m going to have to do it. I could see myself really sitting down and pressing the keys eventually. There’s just stuff, your ear gets tuned. I care about stuff I didn’t care about. You see what doesn’t work. You go to shows and you see, if I had just done it like this, this would translate to this room of thousands of people so much better. You learn.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Drake’s Verse on “Churchill Downs”…
I was just really just so blown away by his verse just as a whole. That’s kind of what I was processing. And as time went by, I just kind of… His writing is his writing. I addressed things on my verse that don’t expect him to have to answer for. And it just is what it is. I guess the simple answer to your question is it’s just what comes with it. People are venting, they’re getting things off their chest. He was getting something off of his chest and I don’t even think it’s for me to shed light on or clarify. Yeah. Not that that’s what you’re asking me to do, but I think that needs to exist. I don’t think I’ve experienced the same thing. But to answer your question, I feel like inevitably…And I don’t know what it’s going to be. I don’t know who it’s going to be. I’m just saying that.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Controlling The Narrative and His Audience Catching Up With Him…
That’s what I slowly started to realise is like, oh, I’m trying to be one of them guys, them guys. And I’m slowly in the process of if you regard yourself that way first, I’ve seen the world start to regard me how I regarded myself first in so many different ways. Just different stages. I thought I was that, they didn’t think so. By the time I’m on to thinking I was the step above that, they’re like, oh, I see him is what he’s … They just start to believe you. Now we’re in the era, I believe him. I believe him. And I’m going to tell y’all where I’m taking it next. I control the narrative. And that’s why I don’t trip for real, because these people are finicky and some people are just meant to enjoy it from the audience. Me, I’m on stage right now and I’m going to tell you where this play is going next. This is where the show’s going. And you might have a, “huh”, reaction to it first, but it ain’t going to change the show. There’s kids listening. There’s people that want to be something. And it’s like, you control the narrative. They don’t control the narrative. They don’t tell you what to be. I mean, it’s all that good s**t that was in the genius documentary. You don’t tell him what he is. He knew his bars were like that. I know I’m that. I KNOW there’s not many people that can write like me. And there’s going to be people that take this clip, and there’ll be a bunch of quotes he’s like, bro, he’s tripping. You know what I’m saying? But I KNOW. I know what I can provide. I know what I’m doing. And I know there’s not a lot of other people that can do it. And so slowly but surely you will know too. They will know too. But I know first. You have to know first. I know for a fact I can’t be f***ed with … I know it. And that’s why soon enough, everyone else will too.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About His Favourite Gift To Give and The Blessing of Financial Freedom…
I think my biggest concern right now is getting everyone I care about secure. And sadly, it’s just, it’s very financial. Taking the weight off people I care about shoulders feels really good in the most simplistic way. You can get gifts that are customised to people that show, hey, I know you. Don’t forget I know you. But making sure somebody’s rent is okay for that month, or for the next six months or something. That’s just, you can just liberate people. You know what I’m saying? I get so caught up in the stresses of how I want this to go and this and that. And sometimes I have to remind myself, I’m so liberated. I’m so blessed. It’s unbelievable what I do for a living. And the best part of having money is not thinking about money. It’s not about the cars. It’s not about the jewelry. It’s not about the flex. It’s about the security. It’s about being able to say, well, I don’t have to stress about that, because that is weighing so many people down. And yeah, just anytime I can give that to people I care about, it’s just to me, there’s few things better. But I’m sure I’ll keep discovering new ones.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About His Forthcoming Role in The ‘White Men Can’t Jump Reboot’…
You know, I did the work to get it… I put the time in with the script. I sat with it. I considered things. I tried to be egoless during the audition, take notes, do what I had to do. And it came…. I just want to kill it. I just want to be good and I want to do everything I can to make it good. There was an initial excitement about announcing it and just the buzz that comes with, look, I’m in a movie. Everybody like, wow, that’s crazy. But after that dust settles… it’s time to make it good. Because it’s either just going to be, there was an announcement you were in a movie and nothing else, or you get that and it’s like, wow, and you brought it. You brought it. And so I’m starting to look at it how I look at the music. And it’s my first one, so I care a lot about it.

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Writer’s Block and the Creative Process…
Writer’s block for me, it’s like I can feel that I’m just writing about nothing, it’s usually when I get lost and just rhyming. It’s like, “Oh, this is a fun rhyme scheme,” that’s when I know I’m blocked, is when I just find a crazy rhyme scheme and just hop in and out of that, and there’s no cohesion to any of the content… which there’s an art to that, that’s fun, that’s part of rap too, but I’m just in a space where I’m most inspired by content, like discussion, conversation. It doesn’t even have to be the most deep, it just needs to be truthful. There’s something magical that’s beyond the science or the math of it, that when it’s coming. It’s insane every time, you go a week and you’re like, “Man, an amazing one just ain’t came to me,” and then suddenly an amazing one comes to you, and you don’t put no effort into it, it’s falling out of your mouth. It’s bizarre to me, even to this day, you do different things to get in your space and you start to learn. It’s like before a game, you start to learn the stretches, you start to learn, “Okay, this is how I get the music you want to listen to before you hit the court.” There’s still no explanation for ball players when they can’t miss, there’s no explanation, really. Yeah, it’s incredible. It’s the best feeling in the world, and you feel so fulfilled and you feel so … “Yeah, I was right, I am who I think I am?

Jack Harlow Tells Apple Music About Curating His Life…
Part of the benefits of success is making it less grueling, things going how I want them to go, rooms being how I want them to be. You know what I’m saying? I’m living this life. I chose to be a boss. I chose to be in charge of my career so I could curate my life. I don’t want my life curated. I want to curate. I want to be the curator. And not everybody’s blessed enough to get that chance. I want that. Being a curator is power, and I’m curating my life. I’m pulling the strings. You know what I’m saying? I want to pull the strings. I don’t want nobody pulling them for me. And that’s all it is. I just want to be in charge.

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Written by Mr. Nimbus

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