🎵 Weekly Music Newsletter: Jack Harlow’s Redemption Arc

Mic-Check Newsletter
8 min readMay 2

Also, The Weeknd & Future duet. Foo Fighters return. Jessie Ware’s disco opus. Ed Sheeran’s greatest song? PJ Harvey breaks creative slump.

It’s only been a week since Heart On My Sleeve, which featured AI-generated vocals that sounded like Drake and The Weeknd, was pulled from streaming services, yet Grimes has already launched an AI platform for artists to use her voice, though she’ll take 50% of the profits.

Click here for a Spotify playlist with the songs mentioned in this article.

BIGGEST Songs of the Week 📈

The second-album syndrome, often referred to as the “sophomore slump,” has plagued musicians for decades. It occurs when an artist’s second album doesn’t live up to the critical or commercial expectations that were set by the first. The Stone Roses’ critically panned Second Coming is the most cited example, but JAY-Z’s In My Lifetime and Guns N’ Roses’ G N’ R Lies also come to mind. The curse is so real that the Traveling Wilburys named their sophomore album Vol. 3 in hopes that the universe would forget they skipped Vol. 2.

Last year, Kentucky-born rapper Jackman “Jack” Harlow was inflicted by this slump. His sophomore record, Come Home The Kids Miss You, was so bad that Pitchfork called it one of “the most insipid, vacuous statements in recent pop history.” Upon its release, we gave it a “trash” rating — easily one of the worst things we listened to all year. With his career in the balance and a chip on his shoulder, Harlow has returned with his third studio record, Jackman.

Jackman. was announced three days prior to its release. There was no rollout, no promotional singles, and no guest features. With everything to prove, Harlow decided to let the music do the talking. On Jackman., Harlow removes the unnecessary fat and First Class-style gimmicks from his previous record, opting instead for a tight 24-minute back-to-basics approach. Over minimalist instrumentation, he displays emotional maturity as he raps about racism, family, and sexual assault — topics far removed from the popstar glamour of his previous work.

That being said, Harlow still shows flashes of his braggadocious confidence throughout the record, especially on this week’s biggest…

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