2020 breakout star Jack Harlow has dropped his debut album titled 'Thats What They All Say'. Following success from his 2020 hit 'WHATS POPPIN', the Kentucky rapper has taken over the charts and become one of the biggest overnight sensations in rap this year. I haven't heard much outside a few singles, but from what I've heard he's a solid rapper with an ear for a catchy beat - so, how would his debut album fair?
The production on here is good, there’s definitely some strong beats, as on 'Funny Seeing You Here' which has this soul sample layered over this trap beat, which sounds great as he's just reflecting on his ex with some OK lyrics. The beat's gone to waste, Jack’s so monotone and uninteresting on this song, I literally can’t pay attention to it because it's so boring. There’s also some mediocre or even bland ones like on '21C / Delta', with the second spacey beat being more bland than the deep trap beat of the first half, as he talks on spending some time with this nurse who’s caught his eye. The melodies in the first half are fine, I get kind of lost attention wise though it doesn’t do anything gripping, it’s still alright, but the 2nd half is a lot more boring and mediocre - while not horrible it does nothing for me. I like the production for the most part, the trap patterns feel very generic half of the time though (especially the kicks and claps), as on 'Route 66' which is about he usual - bragging his success and wealth. EST Gee came with the rough delivery and a nice flow, but he wasn’t here long enough to make an impact but was OK overall, just like the song, everything just kind of feels decent without blowing me away – that hook is really solid though.
Jack’s lyricism overall is pretty mediocre, some songs here he’s pretty smooth with it though, like on 'Same Guy', "I'm no longer a kid, I should probably quit the kiddin'", as he talks on wanting to grow up and mature as he's stuck being the same guy with girls over a trap pattern which is pretty generic, but the twinkling piano and bass guitar make this an enjoyable beat. Adam Levine provided backing vocals, but was a pretty pointless feature, overall though it’s easy enough on the ears, I can’t say it’s overly interesting content wise but a good song despite the unnecessary Adam feature. He has this swagger with his words though, his braggadocio is almost cheeky and slick, as on 'Way Out', "Get the check, I ain't checkin' what it came out to (Check) // I tell promoters, "I don't talk about the money // You know who to hand the envelope to" (That's facts)", as he talks on the money acquired since blowing up and how much he has over these hollow, African drums and groovy bass with rattling hi hats – it's actually a unique and really enjoyable beat. Big Sean features with some some slick lines, a really confident delivery and flow that sounds great, "I get paid to do me, that's a fact check (Damn) // I run it up, then retrace my last steps (Frrp) // I'm in her eardrums talkin' 'bout assets (Yeah) // “Do you wanna—?” “Yes," hol' up, I ain't even ask yet (Hol' up)". This is more like it, the delivery is more engaging and fits the track well, the hooks catchy and unique, Sean comes in and does Jack Harlow better than Jack and I really enjoy this song for the most part. His wordplay can be witty at times too, like on 'Tyler Herro', "Five white boys, but they not NSYNC (No, they not NSYNC, no, they not NSYNC)", as again he talks about the life he lives now he’s a famous rapper over this flute based beat with these booming 808s which bangs. Jack’s laid back, slick rapping here is what I listen to him for – he was slightly carried by the beat but it’s a great song nevertheless. While not the most complex his flow is great and makes for an entertaining listen as his melodic flows on here are nice - overall his accent is enjoyable on the ear.
The features are mixed on here, some of them really turn up, like Lil Baby on 'Face of My City', as he slides over this beat and outshines Jack who does turn up with some witty wordplay, "Cheaper to keep her Willy Caballero" (can't believe this reference is on here), as he talks about being the face of his city now, and he reflects back on his success since blowing up over this racing trap beat and booming 808s which bang. Baby commands the mic, Harlow is a bit monotone but even so it’s got this menacing feel by all the elements involved and it bangs. Some are uninspired or just don’t add much to the track, such as Chris Brown on 'Already Best Friends' who's vocals are good but uninteresting, it's a really generic Chris Brown feature which don’t do much for me over this slow, R&B type trap beat – which is vibey and sounds nice. The track is all about sex with girls and Harlow’s vocals aren’t bad, the hook’s really good but on the verse they don’t actually do much for me, on the surface it don’t sound bad but it’s a bit dull going into it. I like verse 3 and the storytelling at least and despite the flaws and my mixed feelings on the track it’s decent overall. The posse cut remix of 'WHATS POPPIN' is a great performance from everyone involved. DaBaby has the same flow and delivery as every other DaBaby feature – but it still hasn’t got old with some witty punchlines and wordplay, as Tory Lanez's fierce flow partnered with an immense amount of energy he can get out his delivery make for an amazing verse – he stole the show as Lil Wayne also uses his auto-tune which drowns his vocals a bit but his flow and cadence is enjoyable with some really good punchlines and one liners as per, "Um, fuck it, I got options // I bust down couple Apple Watches (Hello)". They use the remix to talk on sex and flex their wealth and it's a banger, it’s just so energetic and gripping throughout and everyone turns up with Tory stealing the show – some remixes are pointless but this was definitely worth the time. I would’ve wanted better features for this album, they just simply don’t add something half of the time.
Most of the album revolves around Jack’s new found success and his rise to fame, like on the opener 'Rendezvous' which has this cheeky braggadocio, not too clever but smooth over this banging beat, twinkling bells with this deep bass and heavy trap beat. Jack has a smooth flow over a great beat – it’s a great start to the album with one verse which keeps you engaged the whole way through. He also talks about relationships with girls – the good and the bad on here, like on 'Creme' where he talks on not wanting his girl anymore over this light, twinkling piano over this generic trap beat (which still sounds OK). There's a few slick lines, "'Cause what's a nine to a dime piece? // What's a headache to a youngin tryna find peace?", and the hook’s OK, the verses again just aren’t too interesting and it's a mediocre track. It’s classic hip hop content to be honest, it isn’t overly interesting although he keeps it fresh with his bars. 'Baxter Avenue' is a track with some great content as he talks on his come up and youth, and once he’s made it what he’s now doing and what his future plans are over this rattling but slow beat and drum pattern, it’s quite vibey, but doesn’t stand out too much though - this groovy bass guitar gets involved later in the song. Jack shows us more slickness with some good bars, "I prefer the pen to a hammer or a brush // But I build things up and my imagery is lush // I used to play soccer but I never had to touch // Basketball, too, but I ain't love it that much", it’s a decent song, the most lyrical on here and it grew on me more as the song progressed. His delivery is a bit monotone for my liking but still nevertheless the idea of the song and sort of the execution was alright.
Other tracks to look at include 'Keep It Light', which has another slow, soul sampled beat which sounds good as he talks about his come up and concern for the rap game. The lyrics are OK, but again the beat has gone to waste, it has the same issues as the last soul rap track - the delivery just isn’t engaging and I don’t care for what he’s rapping about. 'Luv Is Dro' has this OK trap pattern, with a really light feel to the rest of the beat, it’s pretty mediocre though as the track is all about making love to this girl. Bryson Tiller was mixed a bit weird, he wasn't not overly interesting and it wasn't the best songwriting as Static Major demonstrated better vocals on the track and was the only real enjoyable part of the song. Jack is barely on his own song here, and despite a nice vocal display I find the song extremely boring both sonically and conceptually. Finally, 'WHATS POPPIN' has this piano loop over the cheeky trap pattern makes for a really entertaining beat as he talks on his respect he’s been gaining in the hip hop community, and the perks that come with it with some polished one liners and bars, "Hometown hero, feeling myself, can't murder my ego (Can't do it) // She heard of my deep stroke // She said, "Babe, does it hurt when I deep throat?" (It does) // Certified freak ho // Hang around us and she learnin' my lingo // Back then, wasn't worried 'bout me though // In the gym tryna work on my free throw". We all know this hit single by now, and to be fair it’s one of my most played songs this year, this and the remix are the best on the album and I can see why this blew up – catchy, smooth and full of charisma.
I think Jack has a whole load of potential, but it isn’t put across on this album for the most part. There are bangers, although the biggest bangers were singles so we’d already heard them and the songs just feel flat or generic if they’re not good. The hooks on here are really good, but you can find on the same song some verses which are tedious to get through. The laid back feel of the album is captured, but sometimes becomes quite monotone as the features, production and ideas need to be stronger for Jack – there is some songs to salvage and the bad songs aren’t horrible, but his potential wasn’t unleashed on this album. That being said, I do think this was a decent project, and it sounds like this conclusion is negative but I’ve heard many just “OK” albums this year, and for Jack to hit new heights he needs to put out projects better.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Rendezvous, Face of My City, Way Out, Same Guy, Tyler Herro, WHATS POPPIN, WHATS POPPIN (Remix)
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Luv Is Dro
OVERALL RATING: Light 6/10