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The rise of Jack Harlow has been one of hip-hop’s most curious narratives over the past two years. So far in 2022 he’s had a huge pop hit, “First Class,” and released his second major label album, “Come Home the Kids Miss You,” which debuted at No. 3. He is one of hip-hop’s biggest emerging stars, and one whose aims are purely centrist.

He is also white, and this is, necessarily, fraught territory; Harlow’s album rollout has not been without hiccups. But more interesting are his aims — not to be a crossover pop star who bypasses the hip-hop mainstream, but to make a version of hip-hop much different than his Black peers, and be accepted for it.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about Harlow’s musical decisions, the touch-and-go aspects of his album rollout, and the long history of white rappers and the varying degrees of embrace they’ve achieved.


  • Hunter Harris, author of the Hung Up newsletter

  • Larisha Paul, who writes about music for Billboard, The Fader and others

  • Peter Rosenberg, a host on New York’s Hot 97 (WQHT-FM) and a host of the “Juan Ep Is Life” podcast

Connect With Popcast. Become a part of the Popcast community: Join the show’s Facebook group and Discord channel. We want to hear from you! Tune in, and tell us what you think at [email protected]. Follow our host, Jon Caramanica, on Twitter: @joncaramanica.

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