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Kentucky may be better known for bourbon and fried chicken than its hip-hop scene, but 19-year-old rapper Jack Harlow is looking to firmly plant his flag in fertile land.
Born and raised in Louisville, Ky., Jack has been a hip-hop soul for as long as he can remember. His mom fed him a steady diet of classics from elsewhere, legends like OutKast, Eminem, and A Tribe Called Quest. By age 12, he was inspired enough to begin recording songs in his bedroom, uploading his music to SoundCloud to share with his friends. By high school, he'd created such a buzz that he was selling out shows at popular venues in his hometown.
Set on elevating his career, Jack moved to Atlanta. There, he met fellow Kentucky native KY Engineering, with whom he formed a working relationship. KY brought Jack to DJ Drama, who took a liking to Jack's unique style—a fun, thoughtful brand of lyricism that's drawn comparisons to Drake.
In November, Jack dropped a 10-track mixtape titled Gazebo, led by the bouncy, high-energy single "Dark Knight"—his biggest song to date. And today, he partners with XXL to premiere the video from "Wasted Youth," another standout from the mixtape.
“It’s about the B.S. stuff that you do when you young—at least me and my friends did," Jack says of "Wasted Youth," which features Shloob. "Just wasting time not doing anything. And that’s cool, but it just adds up, so it’s just something I think about. It inspired me to write because we want to be doing things with our time. We had a lot of fun shooting the video."
Peep Jack Harlow's new "Wasted Youth" visual below, and learn more about him here on XXL's The Break.
Name: Jack Harlow
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
I grew up listening to: "I grew up listening to a lot of OutKast, Eminem, A Tribe Called Quest and Drake. Drake came out when I started wanting to do it for myself, so Drake was a huge influence to me."
My style’s been compared to: “Eminem of course just from the Caucasian connection, but a lot of people have said Drake, which I can see. Like I said, I grew up listening to him so there's probably a lot of subconscious influence, but a lot of people have also commented on the fact that I don't sound like anybody to them. I pride myself on that—having my own sound, my own style, my own voice."
Most people don’t know: “One thing that bothers people a lot is that I like to sleep in my jeans when I go to bed. And I don't like chocolate chips at all."
My standout moment to date: “The release of my video 'Dark Knight.' I put it out in October last year and it went viral three different ways—Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I think that was a huge introduction to the world for me and I think there's more introductions left, but 'Dark Knight' was definitely my standout moment."
My goal in hip-hop is: “For one I want to make a living out of it. Secondly, I just want to push the culture forward. Do things that people haven't done or seen. I want to be able to do shows and have people sing along to my music. Collaborate with artists I admire. Take care of family and friends and all that good stuff."
I’m going to be the next: “I just want to be the next person to have hits and release a classic album and disappear off social media like Frank Ocean, JAY-Z and Kanye sort of do. I feel like once you get to that status you don't have to be tweet or Instagram."
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