“‘Cause nowadays, I’m in the paper once a day,” rapper Jack Harlow on his new song “State Fair.”
And today, it’s The Miami Hurricane.
On May 6, Harlow released his second studio album, “Come Home The Kids Miss You.” He infused the lyrics with his hypnotic charisma and served them over beats that were simple, but oh-so-pleasing to the ear.
The album’s story comes full circle, beginning and ending with ruminations on his hometown. In the first track, “Talk of the Town,” Harlow describes his departure from home and how he feels like a different person while away. With bare-bones instrumental of mainly piano and drums, Harlow went back to the basics — back to his roots.
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In “Young Harleezy,” we witness his internal conflict on whether he is enough for his newfound fame. Again, the beat here is simple, but a little trumpet on the track adds some pizzazz. I’m always a sucker for a horn solo, so naturally I loved it.
In the last track, “State Fair,” Harlow returns to the theme of his hometown, in a wistful expression of wanting to go home, see his old places, visit his teachers and show his neighbors the person he has become. The dreamlike flute melody and intermittent twinkling bells is fondly reminiscent. It feels like it could play over a movie montage of a younger Harlow running through the grass and laughing in the sun.
Potential music video? We’ll see.
Aside from the themes of home and homecoming, Harlow continues fueling every girl’s fantasy that he’ll whisk them away one day. This is particularly prevalent in “Like a Blade of Grass,” which details a conversation between Harlow and an unknown, seemingly very normal girl.
She’s shy, has a private Instagram, and pays for her own possessions. She explains that she has had a very average romantic life and yet, Harlow is still obsessed with her. Non-famous girls, it looks like you have a chance!
Harlow continues this theme in “I’d Do Anything To Make You Smile,” whose opening string and harp instrumental throws listeners back to the Renaissance. I wasn’t there during the Renaissance, but if anything from today sounds like it belongs in that time period, it’s the first 30 seconds of this track.
This allusion, intentional or not, fits the song’s theme, as the Renaissance was the period in which Titian painted his “Venus of Urbino,” which became the one of the most influential portrayals of a nude woman in art history. Reading that back, this reference was probably unintentional, but I like it, so I’m going to accept it as true.
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And of course, Harlow’s single and best track on the album, “First Class,” extends an offer to join him in his new life of luxury. I do not know who he’s addressing this to, but whomever it is, congratulations: you won life.
The album contains three songs that seem to reference others. In “Poison (feat. Lil Wayne),” Lil Wayne sings “That girl is poison” in the same melody of “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe in clear homage to the classic 90s song. The trumpets in the background of “Nail Tech” also sound similar to the trumpet theme in Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby,” on which Harlow was featured in 2021.
The musical motif in “Dua Lipa” throws listeners back to Wiz Khalifa’s 2010 hit “Black and Yellow,” perhaps to recognize a personal musical influence for Harlow, or perhaps, simply because it sounds good.
Speaking of “Dua Lipa,” is there something we ought to know, Jack? What’s the tea? Also, in “Lil Secret,” he describes an affair with a famous singer with a basketball ex-boyfriend who lives in Miami… I won’t speculate, but wow—that’s a lot to take in.
The album contains a couple oddities, like how Harlow pronounces “family” in “Side Piece” and his shaky register change in “I Got A Shot,” but overall, the album thrills. With cohesive musical and thematic motifs alongside his undeniable charm, I was enraptured throughout, and I have no doubt that his upcoming tour will be nothing less than the “Crème de la Crème.”