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Jack Harlow - Come Home the Kids Miss You Music Album Reviews

Jack Harlow - Come Home the Kids Miss You Music Album Reviews
The charismatic rapper’s second album captures absolutely none of his real-life persona. It is among the most insipid, vacuous statements in recent pop history.

Jack Harlow is a charming, tall, and increasingly chiseled 24-year-old man who sports a mop of curly hair, impossibly tamed and complemented by a youthful beard, sharp blue eyes, a coy smile, and a honking diamond earring in each lobe. Like any good heartthrob, he loves antics—he’s eager to flirt with women he’s just met and say, I love you, or simply act like a goober in public. His second album, Come Home the Kids Miss You, reveals that the showmanship is merely a distraction from some insipid, vacuous music. Harlow’s charisma does not translate onto the record, and, instead, we’re left with a one-trick pony without a discernible trick, a competent rapper who does not flow intricately or write impressively, a pop star who struggles to carry a song on his own.

Harlow’s origin story is repeated often: At age 12, he decided he wanted to be a rapper and got to work, practicing, recording, and selling CDs at school. By 19, he made “Dark Knight,” the song that launched a major-label bidding war for his talents and, ultimately, landed him a deal with the once-promising Atlantic imprint Generation Now. Just about two years later, he made his first good song and true hit, “Whats Poppin”; then, after releasing his debut studio album, the Harlow hype machine went into hyperdrive with “Industry Baby,” the Lil Nas X single where Harlow dutifully performed the role of the straight man in the proudly gay music video. Next to Lil Nas X, Harlow delivered one of the best verses of his career, too, his down-the-middle approach an appropriate complement to his co-star’s more fluid delivery.

Stripped of an appropriate foil, however, Harlow’s swagger is muted. Despite an air of pomp, lead single “Nail Tech” is limp, largely due to its chintzy beat and Harlow’s reluctant vocals. He is too casual on the song, as if he’s afraid to veer away from his tried and true flow for something more expressive. In the music video, for example, he stands tall in a tank top holding three dogs, like he’s DMX, and he raps, “You ain’t one of my dogs, why do you hound us?” He winks, sneers, and mockingly snaps his hand as he mouths, “hound,” but any implied aggression or magnetism is lost on the recorded track.

Harlow’s ability to rap well somehow acts as a hindrance to his ability to make good songs. He does not have a definable trait or tick that could be parodied, preferring to keep things tidy and also make terrible allusions. (The worst might be “Can’t lie, I’m on Angus Cloud nine” because “You know I like to dictate things, Kim Jong” is so obviously stupid that it must be a joke.) His straightforward approach is similar to those of fellow Southerners Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby, the sort of bars-first-but-also-make-it-pop throwback rappers who maybe would not have stood out in the commercial landscape of the 2000s, but are anomalies in the day and age of vibes. Unlike them, however, Harlow does not make bright songs on Come Home the Kids Miss You. The album, for the most part, consists of a monochromatic palette of generic “smooth” beats, one just bleeding into the next. Musically, it’s unfulfilling, lacking standout melodies or exciting rhythms. The sound of Come Home the Kids Miss You, in turn, is about as sophisticated and interesting as a Daniel Arsham sculpture, neat at a glance but vapid upon any extended interrogation.

These songs have topics, for sure—women, his upbringing, how he drinks pineapple juice to make his semen taste good—but Harlow does not craft vivid scenes, proffer compelling thoughts, or wring out emotion, sounding like like someone forced into an introductory therapy session, for instance, when he raps, “Terrified to see my parents pass,” on “Parent Trap.” The most intriguing thing here is the desperate commodification of his own music and ideas, seen on the suite of “First Class” and “Dua Lipa.” The former, which egregiously samples Fergie’s mid-2000s hit “Glamorous,” is massively popular, having been a TikTok hit before debuting atop the Billboard Hot 100. Harlow’s hook is basically Fergie’s, making it less of a chorus and more of a signal of cultural awareness, a nod to an era that his generation has fetishized. The nod is what matters.

With “Dua Lipa,” previewed just days before the album’s release, Harlow simply incorporates the global star’s name into a refrain. The song’s got nothing to do with Dua Lipa; again, it’s the sort of knowing wink that makes for good tabloid fodder but not necessarily good music. Were it not called “Dua Lipa,” there would be nothing of note about the song, which has a flat beat and equally flat bars. Harlow has gone for the celebrity song title in the past with “Tyler Herro,” but with that single he at least parlayed the conceit into an acknowledgment of his position as a white figure in a predominantly Black space. “Dua Lipa” is just being vaguely horny on main, as he might say. With little substance or musical intrigue, “First Class” and “Dua Lipa” are anodyne pieces of content designed to make somebody say, “Did you hear that Jack Harlow song that samples Fergie, or the one called ‘Dua Lipa’?” There’s no better answer than a dead-eyed “Yeah.” He did the same thing with a short album trailer starring Danielle Fishel, better known as Topanga from Boy Meets World. Was there much of a point? Not really, but people took notice, so that’s cool.

Still, in some ways, Come Home the Kids Miss You is the perfect album for someone like Jack Harlow. There are ways that Harlow could position it as a real album, able to point to specific points of growth on tracks like “Side Piece” and “Lil Secret,” which are meant to be adult and sexy, or the closing “State Fair,” which finds him reflecting about how he’s famous but still the same guy. And there’s his song with Drake, “Churchill Downs,” which is more or less a copy of an up-late Drake confessional and has Harlow spitting the album’s defining defensive line: “I’m hip-hop, do you fully understand?”

A big mistake, however, was actually getting Drake on the song, as the veteran artist sounds like he has something worth saying. Meanwhile Harlow, despite the growing fame and unending fascination, is still finding his footing. He is funny online and in interviews and knows how to grab people’s attention. Without much to grasp with his music, it’s easiest just to stare.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Jack Harlow - Come Home the Kids Miss You Music Album Reviews Jack Harlow - Come Home the Kids Miss You Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 Rating: 5

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