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Jack Harlow is on a roll regardless of the critics

Jack Harlow and Drake released the highly-anticipated visual for “Churchill Downs” on June 1, showcasing footage of the pair’s day out at the Kentucky Derby in early May.

Photo via Private Garden

Jack Harlow‘s new album is just terrible,” Pitchfork proclaimed on May 10, tearing apart the “First Class” emcee’s sophomore LP without a trace of remorse.

The outlet’s perspective, though, has been the popular point-of-view amongst fans, Hip-Hop Twitter and prominent music blogs since its release, as Come Home The Kids Miss You is more than just a silver platter of lustful quips and suave bars, it’s a closer look into the mind of a 24-year-old bachelor cherishing his moment on top of the world.

As arguably the hottest rapper on the planet, it’s as if everyone has Harlow’s name on the tip of their tongues. You can’t escape him, from curating instantly viral videos, sitting court-side at the NBA Playoffs to even being mistakenly mentioned in Young Stoner Life’s ongoing RICO case.

With fame comes late nights, as Harlow paid a visit to the The Tonight Show (May 9) to speak on his new album, saying he feels CHTKMY perfectly encapsulates his life at this time. “It’s validating,” he said. “I appreciate [the success], you know, it’s fragile to me and I know I worked for it. I think don’t take it for granted at all because of that, because I did everything.”

Known to champion his roots, Harlow made it a point to say to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe that he didn’t “skip steps” on his way to superstardom — wholeheartedly inspiring others to never stop working towards their dreams. While combatting remarks of being an “industry plant” in recent years, Harlow’s talent, poise and work ethic speaks volumes to who he is as a man and an artist.

Just two years ago, Harlow’s smash-hit “WHAT’S POPPIN” was solely an underground favorite before Lyrical Lemonade shifted millions of eyes onto his wave. His 2020 debut, That’s What They All Say, further strengthened Jack’s case as the game’s next golden boy, as the album was a glistening introduction to Harlow’s range and intrinsic superstar essence — coupled with his unequivocal meme-era sense of humor.

Amid starring in the reboot of White Men Can’t Jump, his upcoming Fall Tour with City Girls all in the wake of his sophomore “slump,” Jack Harlow has become a culturally unstoppable force despite how much his music sells. Debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 — selling 110,000 first-week units — it’s evident that Harlow has amassed a cult following that’s going to ride for him until the wheels fall off. While CHTKMY may take a minute for hip-hop heads to appreciate this “ascension era” of Jack Harlow, the album sees him handling fame and enjoying it with a chip on his shoulder, channeling the many inspirations that have gotten him to this point.

It’s apparent that he’s studied the game and its most seasoned members, emanating sounds and cadences found in “Churchill Downs” collaborator Drake. Harlow and Drizzy’s parallels are a dime a dozen, from their approach to their loverboy personas, it’s almost fate that they got in touch. “Poison” is another example of this crossover, as Jack employs the 6 God’s signature sing-raps intertwined by airy vocal samples and a co-sign from Drizzy’s mentor Lil Wayne. The pair are as chummy as ever in the new “Churchill Downs” visual, as Jack reps his hometown by performing in Louisville Slugger’s headquarters as well as taking in the Kentucky Derby with Drake.

“State Fair” is perhaps the album’s highest point, speaking on how those who used to belittle Harlow are now singing a different tune. It’s a come-up for the ages, spitting “Fuck the fame, from the jump you know I wasn’t cut the same… I want respect, I don’t want flowers.” With Drake in his corner and DJ Drama at his side, Harlow pays no mind to the negativity, staying the course he’s set out for himself and with powerful peers behind him.

The album may be underwhelming as a whole (compared to his debut), but it’s no secret that Jack is a talented emcee, able to tear off party cuts and introspective plots whenever he feels the need. CHTKMY is a sample of the bachelor’s balance on record. Amid the flack he’s catching, he’s shining in the spotlight and feeling blessed while doing it — unashamed of his true colors and seems more than well-adjusted to handle this next tier of fame.

Say what you want about CHTKMY, because Jack is winning regardless.

Watch Jack Harlow and Drake’s “Churchill Downs” below!