Announcing his new album, Jackman, without warning this past Spring, the “Churchill Downs” superstar surprised fans with a swift rollout that saw his third studio album drop on April 28, and more or less, Jack is back.
With 10 tracks and no skips, it debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200, selling 35,500 first-week units per Hits Daily Double, sharing the record’s third visual in “Denver” months later (Aug. 30).
“I know this sh*t gonna be a classic because bro didn’t say a single word or hint at this album,” a Twitter user wrote, foreshadowing Harlow’s bounce back stemming from his sophomore LP Come Home The Kids Miss You. On highlights like “Denver,” “Common Ground,” “Gang Gang Gang,” “Is That Ight,” “Ambitious” and more, Harlow sounds more confident and focused, as bars like “Condescendin’ suburban kids growin’ up to be rap journalists / Writin’ urban myths about who they think is / the best urban kid, and the worst is / And who’s authentic,” hits home for even this journalist.
While not applicable to every voice in the music scene, Jack’s words ring true on “Common Ground” to a degree — calling out the industry for how he sees it: At its worst. Nevertheless, his beat selection on Jackman is poised, polished and filled with sample-laden sounds that elevate Jack’s persona, impressing wholeheartedly with an expensive-sounding resurgence that feels more homegrown than ever.
“Blame On Me” is a undeniable gem of the LP, spinning a multi-perspective conversation between members of his family, mostly between him and his brother. The sentiment of, “I’m terrified of broaching the subject, I’m terrified to even ask, so I just don’t touch it, I don’t say nothing” rings true for Jack, his brother and his father, as Harlow emphatically spits from the point of view of each with intent and emotion. It’s an important piece to what makes Jackman tick.
“Questions” is admittedly the most introspective on the album, openly asking himself “why don’t if I don’t live up to the hype despite my dedications… what if they stop caring ’bout me?” among many other talking points. He touches on every facet of his life, highlighting the insecurities we all feel regardless of fame and fortune. And it’s not just these narrative-driven pieces that make Harlow’s third record more elevated than his last, but it’s the precision he displays at just 24 minutes long. He packs his full breadth of talent into 10 tracks, tearing off unmissable flows both off-kilter and on-point. The Louisville heartthrob wears his heart on his sleeve, clad with luscious, luxurious beats as its backdrop.
While CHTKMY was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, the Louisville emcee received rather lackluster reviews for his second studio album. Nevertheless, the Generation Now talent’s pen is amongst the most potent and creative of our generation, as his hit-making ability and careful song structures were evident on his shimmering debut That’s What They All Say and 2020’s SWEET ACTION. Harlow also appeared on DJ Drama’s star-studded compilation album, I’M REALLY LIKE THAT, on the track “Mockingbird Valley.”
Jack cemented his place as an industry darling off the back of chart-topping hits in “INDUSTRY BABY” with Lil Nas X and “FIRST CLASS” in 2022, along with a few nationwide tours in recent years. He’s also hinted at a collab album with fellow Louisville native EST Gee that’s in the works.
Amid new music, Harlow’s first leading role in the reboot of the classic basketball-hustler film, White Men Can’t Jump, premiered exclusively via Hulu on May 19. Seemed like perfect timing for Jackman to drop, as Harlow tosses himself an alley-oop back into the spotlight — doubling down on his feature film appearance with a new record weeks apart.
Listen to ‘Jackman’ below!