Review: Jack Harlow, ‘Come Home the Kids Miss You’

The Kentucky rapper’s sophomore album is a mundane cringe-fest, indulging in elementary raps that put a major asterisk next to his name in the spotlight.

Jack Harlow is the Gen Z frontman. He’s the new face of pop rap, leading charts since 2020’s “What’s Poppin” drew the TikTok effect, though he’s been releasing music since 2011 (granted, he was thirteen at the time). It’s been uphill since then, earning a Platinum-certified debut album, a number one single, and collaborations with Eminem and Lil Wayne. The cheeky, charming persona’s also worked in his favour, marketing himself as a likeable dude who’s just chilling and having fun. That carefree’s attitude brought him to his sophomore album as he looks to extend the length of his career.

Harlow’s vanity and juvenile skill put Come Home the Kids Miss You into the abyss of 2022 music, a constant misfire that’s as inept as mainstream rap can come.

Photography: Urban Wyatt

Come Home the Kids Miss You is the musical equivalent to vanilla ice cream. It tastes fine, but it’s the simplest flavour you can get. Over 45 minutes, Harlow can’t find the urgency to entertain the listener, taking the most vapid approach across all departments. You wouldn’t be able to think this from Jack’s perspective, who sounds like the most confident man walking on earth (“Am I fancy enough? Am I handsome enough?”, he asks on “Young Harleezy” – though bear in mind, they’re rhetorical questions). He believes in himself so much that you could actually think he’s putting his best foot forward. But behind the smoke and mirrors is everything that leads to a subpar rap album. If this album was a first date, you are leaving before the bill arrives.

It almost feels like a parody album of pop rappers that have come before him; or it’s having a conscious corn-off with the last album G-Eazy put out. The writing is exactly where Come Home the Kids Miss You takes a plunge. Nothing that Harlow says, or how he performs what he says, is interesting to hear. Earrings are falling off, side chicks are appreciated, and semen’s being sweetened. When wordplay turns up, you’re met with lines like “I ain’t no connoisseur but I like this kind of store”. On the number one single, “First Class”, Harlow interjects words before the sampled letters of Fergie’s “Glamorous”, reaching as far as M before he runs out of ways to flip the rest of the word. It’s a precedent set for the whole album; cringy bars and subject matter that leave no saving grace for tracks that even sound mildly good.

Even if lyrics are put aside, Harlow sounds bored out of his mind. The blasé delivery is supposed to reinforce his womaniser aura, but it doesn’t benefit the songs. Its no wonder Harlow is outshined by every guest artist on here, most notably Drake on “Churchill Downs”, a song with a beat that’s Drake’s bread and butter. If you were falling into the Harlow facade earlier in the album, “Churchill Downs” exposes Jack as a timid protégé, an artist who has a long way to go before he can dare record lines like “I keep givin’ y’all classics”.

What’s most confusing about Come Home the Kids Miss You is the amount of production credits on each song. It took thirteen producers to make the two-minute “I Got a Shot”, an example of the efforts the album takes to be so manufactured. All names involved give Harlow the cleanest, safest production to achieve his hitmaking vision. With some better writing and rapping, these song’s wouldn’t sound half as bad as they do. But the effect of Harlow himself is enough to damage all enjoyment.

Jack Harlow tries to be a heartthrob, but he’s actually putting us in cardiac arrest. Charisma is supposed to be Harlow’s selling point, so where is it? The attempt feels superficial—self-proclaimed rather than anointed, like a playground rumour that Harlow’s started himself. If that’s the angle Harlow wants to go with, he needs to at least make it entertaining to digest. For now, this is Nickelodeon music that the adults will happily miss.

3 / 10

Best tracks: “Churchill Downs”, “First Class”