Jack Harlows' latest album 'Jackman' sparking difficult conversations

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Jack Harlow has found himself on the chopping block due to some of the lyrics in his new album, which some say downplay accusations of sexual misconduct. Others seem to relate to the nuanced, somewhat anecdotal message being displayed in the lyrics, young men's pressure to blindly support their friend group or clique.

Why is Jack Harlows' new album Jackman polarizing?

The 26-year-old rapper from Kentucky has been an internet heartthrob since he rocketed to popularity in 2020 with his hit single “What’s Poppin”. Since then, Harlow has gained prominence by sporting quite the knack for producing music, appearing on songs with rappers and performers like Pooh Shiesty, Eminem, and most famously Lil Nas X.

Harlow has also released two full-length albums, That’s What They All Say and Come Home the Kids Miss You. Both of the albums had a hit single (the first being “What’s Poppin” and the second being his song featuring an iconic Fergie sample, “First Class”), but neither album as a whole received much commercial success or critical renown. NPR even roasted Harlow’s second album, claiming most of the beats could be found simply by “searching Drake type beat’s into Youtube”.

Harlow released his third full-length studio album titled Jackman on April 28, 2023. This time, it is not the beats in the album that are the target of criticism, but the lyrics. The majority of attention on social media is regarding a song on the album titled “Gang Gang Gang”. In the song, he refers to a group of friends he used to hang out with, his “gang”. After going their separate ways and not hearing from each other for a long period of time, Harlow says in one line that a friend he calls Marcus was alleged to have sexually assaulted up to 7 girls “in the back of a Target”.

"Home for the holidays
My friend pulled me to the side like, "Did you hear about Marcus?"
Our Marcus? "Yeah, our Marcus"
"A bunch of girls say he r***d them in the back of some Target""

Jack Harlow, "Gang Gang Gang"

A different friend called Kevin is alleged to have molested a 10-year-old child after sending them explicit messages.

"Home for the holidays
My friend pulled me to the side like, "Did you hear about Kevin?"
Kevin who? "Our Kevin"
What happened? "He got arrested"
"They found a bunch of messages he sent to lil' kids"
"And apparently, he met up with this ten year old and the now the kid's sayin' he got m******d""

Jack Harlow, "Gang Gang Gang"

Reactions to these lyrics have already gone viral on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Videos of people’s jaws hitting the floor upon hearing the lyrics for the first time are getting hundreds of thousands of views in the few days since the song's release. Some reactors explain the lyrics as a relatable issue for men, struggling with how loyal they should be to the group they grow up with. Others pointed out that if these are the type of people Harlow called his friends, his judgment of people's character does not seem to be working very well and that this experience is of the minority of young men and the groups they associated with as youths.

While this controversy is unlikely to heavily impact Harlow’s career in the long run, it certainly has put a bit of a damper on what was, in the bare minimum, a warmer reception of his most recent album in comparison to his previous projects.

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