Jack Harlow’s Thats What They All Say has arrived after a landmark year for the Kentucky rapper. WHATS POPPIN is arguably one of the biggest hip-hop records of the year and he enters his debut album with a huge amount of hype. Known for his steam-rolling bars and quirky wordplay, the record is a playground of witty lyrics that go deep and braggadocious.
Here are the essentials:
“I became exactly what I wanted to / I became a millionaire at 22”
2020 hasn’t been a good year for most but it’s been a landmark one for Harlow. He kicks off the album waxing lyrical about the year that he’s had and this is the statement lyric of the bunch. He’s pulling in big money this year and the stack is only likely to get bigger.
“I’m the face of my city / Co-signed by Diddy”
Face Of My City
It’s difficult to find many famous musicians in the last few years who have come out of Kentucky, Harlow’s hometown. He’s rightfully assigning himself to the Kentucky thrown and also throwing in a Diddy reference. In September of last year before WHATS POPPIN even went big Harlow revealed, “Me and Diddy been chopping it up last few days.”
“I played you my first hit before it dropped / You were in the driver’s seat and I was on the aux...Looking back I gotta wonder if you would’ve thought that my life would change like this/ That every station in America would play my shit / That I would do a remix and I could take my pick of any rappers that I wanted and they’d get on this shit.”
21C/Delta revolves around an ex but it’s also a pertinent depiction of Harlow’s life before and after fame. This vivid moment captures the point at which Harlow played his soon-to-be-hit to his girlfriend. It would’ve been hard to even consider the level of success that was to come at that moment. This captures the disbelief of that aptly.
“You should come and step into my world like Narnia.”
Funny Seeing You Here
This album is similes galore with Harlow name-dropping actors, sportsman, and department stores. On Funny Seeing You Here, he invites someone to step into his world which he likens to Narnia. On a surface level, it means that his life his magical but let’s not forget that Narnia featured plenty of turmoil thanks to the White Witch.
“I’m a restaurant-goer / Never been to Whole Foods.”
Speaking of name-dropping department stores, he gets into grocery stores while getting a little braggadocious on the Big Sean-featuring Way Out. After saying that he’ll take his whole team to a steakhouse without looking at the bill, he mentions that he’s not the grocery-shopping kind. In terms of grocery stores though Whole Foods is pretty high-end. He should check it out.
“Truthfully I’m not comfortable with getting all the praise / Even more when y’all get to drinking and start telling me all the things that you really think”
Keep It Light
The first part of the album talks about Harlow’s glow-up but on the second half he gets a little more introspective. Keep It Light addresses going home and dealing with seeing old friends. He’s unable to be himself anymore because of his fame and these lyrics are a pretty stark depiction of how his relationships will never be the same.
“I’m no longer a kid I should probably quit the kiddin’ and the playin’”
Harlow is a wordplay king and it’s on fine display here. The Adam Levine-featuring cut addresses maturity and attempting to grow up, particularly when dealing with women. Here, he has a little fun pairing kid with kiddin’ and then rhyming it with playin’.
“Bitch, I’m from Kentucky but this ain’t no fucking Dixie Chicks.”
Kentucky has bred plenty of country musicians but very few rappers. On Route 66, Harlow lets us know where he’s from but also notes that he’s not about to start yodeling. It’s worth noting, the Dixie Chicks did not actually originate from Kentucky. They are a symbol of country music though.
“The ones that hate me the most look just like me / You tell me what that means.”
Harlow jokes that those that criticise him are often the white hip-hop fans online taking shots at him. According to him, he is not what they envision true rap to be.
“I feel resentment from every direction / Even some homies be wearing expressions / I be discouraged from sharing my blessings (Damn) /We used to share a connection”
On the single that did it all for Harlow, he addresses a similar thing to what he brings up on Keep It Light - failing relationships that come with heightened fame. Clearly, it’s impossible to get to the top without ruffling feathers. Also consider Harlow wrote this before his biggest hit - this song.
“I ain’t upset to be inside for some months and get back in touch with the person that I was.”
Harlow blew up in the year of a pandemic. In a normal year, he’d be playing festivals around the world and promoting the record but instead, he’s spent plenty of time at home. Here, he takes the positive from that saying it’s given him a chance to bring himself back down to the ground.
“I got a hit, she been playin' that shit / So when she pull up on me I know what she 'bout to say.”
WHATS POPPIN (Remix)
The WHATS POPPIN remix was a celebratory moment for Harlow. Taking the opening verse, he took a victory lap for all that the songs done, ending with a line that can only have one finish, “What’s poppin’”.