I cannot escape Jack Harlow. I have never once voluntarily listened to his music, but I know a lot about him. He is a tall boy from Kentucky who has taken the world of hip hop by storm by going viral on Tik Tok. Also, he’s white.
Scary, I know. How does the world contend with a new and extremely famous white rapper? Especially one whose recent sophomore album received a 2.9 rating on Pitchfork, and who is better known for being an adorable little flirt than an actually good artist? Well, for Harlow, one way to offset whatever guilt he may have for occupying an awful lot of space in the world of rap and hip hop is talking effusively about his love of Black women.
In a new Teen Vogue cover story, the rapper does his best to show the world he is in fact a good guy. For one, he says his 2021 collaboration with Lil Nas X wasn’t motivated by politics. “I wasn’t thinking, Oh, optically this will look good. But I do think Lil Nas stands for something really important. I’m gonna be really proud as that ages.” Aw, cute.
But the article takes a real shift when the writer brings up the elephant in the room: Black women.
When I look at the Jack Harlow sitting across from me, I see a mildly nervous, soft-spoken young man who knows he’s bound to mess up. It’s a stark contrast from his usual on-camera persona, which seems to be all self-assured smiles and witty, often suggestive, jokes. Perhaps I view him with empathy because I, too, am a 24-year-old white person. Perhaps it’s also because I was introduced to his music by Black women, the fanbase he most directly credits with his success. “Black women are such a massive part of my career,” he says.
Wow, I didn’t think I would personally get a shout-out in this profile. I am so glad he got that out of the way. But, I was wondering. Does he really love Black women? Do I have to extend my gratitude to this floppy haired giant? Thankfully, the answer is no:
“They’ll never have to worry about not being credited by me…. I mean, I look out at my shows and I see them. It’s one thing when you see the memes and you hear people talking about it, but it’s another when you travel the country and you see them all over the place. I love Black women. I’ve loved Black women my whole life.”
Not since Tom Cruise screaming “I love black people” in Jerry Maguire has there been a clearer declaration of white person’s allegiance to Black people. Thank you, Jack. Or you’re welcome? Now that we’ve got that settled, I’d love to hear whether or not he still stands by his decision to keep Tory Lanez, who allegedly shot Megan Thee Stallion in 2020, on his smash hit Whats Poppin. In March, he told Rolling Stone, “It doesn’t feel right as a grown man to speak for other grown men all the time. . . . One thing’s for sure, is that Megan got shot. And I wish her nothing but love and respect.” Well, I guess all love has its limits.