March 13, 2017

Allen Poe is more Louisville than Rick Pitino.

Last spring, Louisville rapper Jack Harlow was gearing up for his graduation from Atherton High School. This spring, he’s back and forth between Louisville and Bass Recoding Studios in Atlanta, working with fellow Kentucky native and super engineer Finis White in search of a hit record. Trace his efforts back a bit further and you find a 12 year old kid from the Highlands using the means available to him—Windows Recorder and a built in laptop mic—to record his first rap sessions. Go back even further and you’d learn how his mom, a NWA fan, used to play The Marshall Mather’s LP in the mini-van when he was two. Perhaps it’s a case of osmosis, perhaps it’s a moot point, but Jack’s background belies any cliché observations of his appearance; he isn’t a recent-comer here to capitalize off of a trend in rap (very Raekwon voice, “We ain’t tryna hop in and out all fast, nahhhmean?!”).

While his prior mixtapes (Finally Handsome and 18) may have betrayed the sensibilities of zealous heads who prioritize lyrical prowess over catchy melody, his first offering of 2017, “Hitchcock,” does away with the dichotomy altogether: “You ain’t bout shit, feeling like I’m Reggie Miller down six/doin’ 90 lookin’ out for undercover Crown Vics/Flying out the city payin’ zero dollars round trip/Saw her take a picture of me told her take it down quick.” What’s not to like from an 18 year old who flexes with flow while seamlessly dropping references to Reggie Miller’s ’95 heroics, getting paid (or at least breaking even) to travel for music, and still repping for the past time common to most every youngin’, stunting on would be romantic counterparts?

If you happen to be in Austin for SXSW this year, you can catch Jack on 03/15 at Stubb’s.