The Louisville, Kentucky native sparked mixed reactions as he compared himself to Eminem in a track on his new album Jackman
Jack Harlow surprised fans with an album drop on Friday, and his not-so-subtle reference to Eminem in one song has spurred some mixed reactions.
In “They Don’t Love It,” the second track on the 10-song album Jackman, Harlow, 25, compares himself to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, as he raps, “Your boy’s striving to be the most dominant ever / The hardest white boy since the one who rapped about vomit and sweaters.”
Listeners were quick to note that the “vomit and sweaters” reference makes it clear that Harlow is comparing himself to Eminem, who famously rapped about having vomit on his sweater in 2002’s “Lose Yourself,” which won him an Academy Award.
Harlow then acknowledges the response he knows the comparison to Eminem will elicit, as he raps in the next bar, “And hold the comments ’cause I promise you I’m honestly better than whoever came to ya head right then.”
He continues, “They ain’t cut from the same thread like him / They don’t study, doing work to get ahead like him / They don’t toss and turn in the f—ing bed like him.”
Jackman is Harlow’s first release since his second studio album, Come Home the Kids Miss You, in May 2022. Despite some pushback on the Eminem bar, it’s being hailed as an aptly-aware commentary on race and rap, with Rolling Stone calling it chock-full of “maturity and depth.”
Facing tough questions is not new for the Louisville, Kentucky native, who has been open about how he navigates being white in a Black genre of music.
“There is a certain reality that I am white, and I think there will always be something attached to that,” he told Billboard in 2021. “No matter how embraced I am, there will never be a day that I’m Black. With that being said, there’s a certain responsibility that comes with being a white man in a Black genre, and there’s certain things that have me regarded differently.”
He added, “But there is something exciting about skipping over any barriers that might be there and creating unity.”
Harlow previously said that he deals with “serious imposter syndrome” as he navigates “moments of self-doubt combined with moments of I am who I think I am.”
He told GQ Hype, “I don’t try to lean into the, ‘Hey, I’m the white boy.’ I try not to make it a novelty. I rap from the heart, rather than trying to do a white version of the art form.”
Though Jackman sees Harlow return to his roots as a rapper, he’s set to make his film debut later this month in Hulu’s White Men Can’t Jump remake.
In the remake of the 1992 hit film, the Grammy-nominated rapper stars alongside Sinqua Walls as they compete in a basketball tournament together to win $500,000.
According to the film’s synopsis, both Harlow and Walls portray former basketball star characters whose NBA dreams were dashed in the Hulu film, which debuts May 19.