Jack Harlow: 10 Essential Songs

BYJoe Abrams6.3K Views
Link Copied to Clipboard!
Erika Goldring/WireImage/Getty Images
Jack Harlow essential songs list
From “What’s Poppin?” to “Like This," we're running through a list of the rapper’s most necessary listens.

"I think my music is conversational, a lot of the songs are like short stories, it’s the storytelling aspect I think," Louisville rapper Jack Harlow told GQ last year about his specific niche in the industry. This casual and comedic approach that emphasizes a more nonchalant style makes Harlow one of the rap game’s most accessible players.

Just as he effortlessly slides through verses and hooks, Harlow's floated to success with an established list of career peaks, that continues to grow-- he's still young, after all. Of course, the Louisville rapper’s artistic journey and rise to the top hasn’t come without its hard work. Jack has an extensive discography that he's accrued during his six years in the game and transition through record labels, so it can often be hard for new fans to figure out where to start. Furthermore, some of the rapper’s best records are considered hidden gems, and thus they are easily over-shadowed by the likes of “What’s Poppin?” and “Tyler Herro" (although, those are both essentials too, as you will come to see).

We’ve put together a list of essential Harlow tracks and features that new fans need to get caught up on before Harlow’s next big moment.

Rich Fury/Getty Images

"What’s Poppin?" (Sweet Action, 2020)

“What’s Poppin?” needs no introduction. Released in January 2020 alongside a Cole Bennett-produced video, the track was seemingly destined to be Jack Harlow’s explosive entry into the mainstream, after four years of industry buildup. The track succeeds in its simplicity, relying on Harlow’s signature conversational style of rap. With a casual “what’s poppin’?” marking the hook, the track had an expedited route to TikTok fame, where it currently plays in the backdrop of over 290,000 videos. 

Harlow, and label heads, DJ Drama and Don Cannon, both knew the track’s potential as soon as they heard it: “Everyone that heard it, for the first week after it was finished, it was special. That’s why we chose to drop it because it was just a feeling,” Harlow told Genius. The success led to Sweet Action, Harlow’s EP that debuted later that year at #20 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. 

"Tyler Herro" (That's What They All Say, 2021)

Following the almost-immediate success of "What’s Poppin," many counted Harlow out as a one-hit wonder. However, “Tyler Herro,” named after the basketball player and Harlow’s friend, proved to silence the naysayers. Though featuring his typical conversational flow, “Tyler Herro” has no hook and instead sees Harlow going bar after bar, speaking on his elevated status and talking down on the haters. “F*** what y'all think/ F*** everything that you say about me” seems to be the motto of the track, with the rapper riding the royal horns of the instrumental away from uncertainty and judgement.

“Tyler Herro” dropped with it’s own music video featuring appearances from the song’s namesake, as well as Druski. 

"Industry Baby"- Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow (2021)

If “Tyler Herro” still didn’t squander your pessimistic predictions for Harlow’s career, a recent high-profile collaboration called you out, directly. “Y’all thought I was just gonna be here for a second, look where I’m at. I’m here to stay,” Harlow told Genius in an interview about “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X’s #1 song featuring Jack Harlow. While the song initially trended for its controversial music video, which Harlow made an appearance in, one of the song’s many TikTok trends came with the string of claps incorporated into Harlow’s catchy and triumphant verse. 

Rich Fury/Getty Images

Both artists had nothing but praise for each other when discussing the track. Lil Nas X told Genius: “What I like about Jack’s bars is like… he’s gonna pop some s*** and he’s gonna have some fun moments,” with Harlow adding, “I’m a fan of him and I’m a fan of what he’s doing and what he stands for. I think he’s becoming like an icon.”

"Already Best Friends" feat. Chris Brown (That's What They All Say, 2020)

The release of Harlow’s debut album, That’s What They All Say, at the end of last year saw Harlow at the peak of his momentum in the industry, and so, it was the perfect moment for him to broaden his artistic horizons. If the Chris Brown feature didn’t indicate it already, “Already Best Friends” is that musical change of pace fans were looking for. Swapping out casual flows and bodacious bars for a more melodic and rhythmic performance, “Already Best Friends” meets the perfect balance between switching it up just enough while not overstepping your boundaries. Chris Brown needs no adjusting, though, and brings the heat on the comfortable rap and R&B fusion. 

"Dark Night" (Gazebo, 2017)

Harlow got his first taste of mainstream success years before the hype around his 2020 singles, with the 2017 release “Dark Night.” The track finds a more energetic and fiery 19-year-old Harlow putting his ego on full throttle as he goes bar for bar about his hunger for success. Though coming off just as confident as his most recent releases, “Dark Night” features an angrier, less-polished vocal tone. Still, the track received the most attention the rapper had garnered yet, and Harlow attributes the song to getting him signed to Generation Now. “I just remember my phone was glitching, my Twitter was glitching, it was too much but it was really dope,” Harlow said about the track’s success. 

Harlow credits veteran rapper Cyhi the Prynce for pulling up next to him and helping him push through writer’s block while Harlow wrote “Dark Night” in a parking lot. The single eventually made it onto his 2017 EP Gazebo.

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

"Killer" - Eminem featuring Jack Harlow, Cordae (2021)

Though high-profile collaborations are nothing new for Jack Harlow, his feature on “Killer (Remix)” by Eminem with Cordae was an actual dream come true for the Louisville rapper. Harlow has never failed to sing Eminem’s praise any chance he gets.. “I grew up listening to Eminem, I idolized Eminem, BIG influence of mine growing up. He’s so dope,” Harlow told GQ. On Pitchfork’s “Over/Under,” series, the rapper called Eminem “underrated,” and he even checked Nick Cannon on MTV’s Wild-N-Out for disrespecting the 8-Mile rapper. Suffice it to say, Harlow brought his best material for “Killer,” even reiterating his support with “I’m on a song with my idol.” 

"THRU THE NIGHT" featuring Bryson Tiller (Confetti, 2019)

While “Already Best Friends” saw Harlow entering the R&B world of Chris Brown, 2020’s “THRU THE NIGHT” featuring Bryson Tiller marks the reversal of these roles. Jack Harlow doesn’t stray too far away from his signature rapping approach on the track, however “THRU THE NIGHT” is interesting in the way Bryson Tiller enters Harlow’s world. The singer swaps out elegant R&B flows with an interpolation of Harlow’s cadence, marking one of Harlow’s first tracks as a dominant and overpowering artist. At this point in his career, Harlow proved he can not only hold a track on his own but dominate a song and carry established industry stars under his lead. All in all, “THRU THE NIGHT” was not only an important moment for Harlow’s creative ability but one of the more popular deep cuts off of Sweet Action.

"Same Guy" feat. Adam Levine (That's What They All Say, 2020)

“Same Guy” stands out as one of the Louisville rapper’s more introspective tracks, though it doesn’t sacrifice Harlow’s sleek style. “I can't keep lettin' shit slide/ Thought that I would change, but I'm the same guy,” repeats Harlow, as he takes aim at himself and apologizes to a past lover. “Same Guy” separates itself from many of the other tracks on That’s What They All Say for its exceptional writing and how surprisingly humble it is, despite the Adam Levine appearance on background vocals. JetsonMade’s production is also a notable feature of the track, remaining jazzy and smooth, before breaking into a gospel section to close out the track. 

"SUNDOWN" (Loose, 2018)

In August 2018, Harlow finalized his deal with Generation Now and Atlantic Records under the patronage of DJ Drama and Cyhi the Prince. That same day, fans were treated to “SUNDOWN,” Harlow’s major label debut and the lead single from his 2018 EP Loose. While “Dark Night” was the Louisville rapper’s first underground hit, “SUNDOWN” made its way through curated playlists and radio airtime with support from the label. Harlow even scored his first Genius Explained interview for the track. During a 2018 interview with LA Leakers, Harlow spoke on how the track came about: “We wanted to make it first because it just just came out, like bangin. I like that song a lot.” The song presents itself as a sort of predecessor to Harlow’s more recent work as Harlow donned his typical casual and understated flow, though now with a noticeably younger vocal tone. 

"LIKE THIS" (Loose, 2018)

“LIKE THIS,” a track on Harlow’s Loose EP, came just months after “SUNDOWN” and quickly became a fan favorite. The track shouldn’t be anything unfamiliar to new or old Jack Harlow fans as it features the same earworm flows and braggadocio rhymes that Harlow is known for, though it seems “LIKE THIS” was the track that cemented the sound. Released just after signing on with Generation Now, the track is proof that DJ Drama and Don Cannon’s guidance centered Harlow around a specific song. He seems as comfortable as ever in his silky-smooth niche on “LIKE THIS,” even switching up his flow with a melodic bridge that finds Harlow belting out a Post Malone-like vocal excerpt that’s impressive among even his newer melodic releases. For those drawn to Harlow from his more recent Billboard hits, “LIKE THIS” is a great track for understanding Harlow’s musical progression.

About The Author