Since releasing the viral hit “WHATS POPPIN” in 2020, rapper Jack Harlow has danced into the graces of the public eye by his social media presence and artistic output. As a white rapper from Louisville, Kentucky, Harlow embodies and shows respect to Black trailblazers who came before him, and he acknowledges how he and his peers are walking in their footsteps.
Fans of white rappers love to come to their aid whenever they need public defending, but Harlow’s fanbase adores and respects him in a self-contained bubble. He doesn’t speak on issues that don’t concern him, and he comments on controversy only when necessary.
Famous people often feel like their opinions matter more than most individuals, and their elevated status overinflates their ego and is the catalyst for most celebrity news on TV.
What makes Harlow so approachable and appealing are his social media posts and image. White rappers typically have a tendency to make fools of themselves online or later utilize aspects of Black culture to fit their brand. Whenever a white rapper gets braids, it feels like they're putting on a costume to emulate the Black experience, and instead of establishing their credibility, it makes them seem ingenuine.
Harlow also hosts a 10-question question-and-answer session on his Instagram every week where his fans can ask him anything, and the questions and answers are often hilarious or nonsensical. Despite this, Harlow is consistent, and this opens an important avenue for Harlow to connect with his fans.
Most rappers refuse to submit to this kind of openness: While it doesn’t work for everyone, Harlow has crafted his image in a way that makes him approachable and shows he clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously.
His Twitter continues this lack of seriousness. In a day, he’ll tweet about Pisces men right after promoting a new single or music video. One of his latest tweets from earlier this month describes how he sees a montage of Discovery channel images every time he has sex.
Playboi Carti’s tweets, by comparison, consist of lowercase, one-word aphorisms and lean heavily into vampire subculture, while most mainstream rappers tweet only through their management and don’t focus on establishing interpersonal relationships with their fans. Harlow follows neither of these rules and posts what he wants, which is refreshing in an era where labels control so much of an artist’s output and media presence.
His casting as a reconfigured version of Woody Harrelson’s character in the reboot of the 1992 comedy "White Man Can’t Jump" emphasizes that Harlow is here to stay in the entertainment field.
Additionally, Harlow received a co-sign from Ye in a now-deleted Instagram post of his song “Nail Tech,” which meant the world to Harlow. "This right here … is one of the greatest moments of my entire life," he wrote. "Glad y’all all get front row seats to it … suddenly all the hate means nothing … imagine your hero saying this about you … I could cry.”
Humility like Harlow's feels reassuring on social media as most rappers use their audience and visibility to flaunt their supposed wealth and possessions.
Harlow’s past as a rapper is well documented, and his earlier music shows he came from humble beginnings. His raps from high school feature a younger and more naive Harlow, but much of his charisma and rhythm were already developed. This makes him transparent as well as keeps him away from industry plant allegations, which can often derail the career of artists who become viral out of nowhere.
Harlow's presence at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game also cemented his status as a Louisville hero, and the establishment of Dec. 18 as Jack Harlow Day in Louisville by Mayor Greg Fischer (D) illustrates how his fame has traveled beyond his intended audience.
Very few rappers are ever given the keys to their city or have a day named after them, and being honored by the state is a proud rite of passage for entertainers. Harlow’s social media presence and musical presence keep him favorable and relatable, and continuing to act this way will lead to more opportunities as his career develops.