After wrapping last year with a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 thanks to his Lil Nas X collaboration “Industry Baby,” Jack Harlow opens 2022 with a Rolling Stone cover story.
In addition to announcing the May 6 arrival of his next studio album Come Home The Kids Miss You, the 24-year-old rapper/”Gen Z sex symbol” talked about keeping his skyrocketing career untainted by scandals — like his “What’s Poppin’” collaborator Tory Lanez‘s alleged shooting of Megan Thee Stallion or his former DJ’s indictment on a murder charge — in the feature published on Wednesday (March 16).
When Harlow was pressured to remove Tory Lanez and DaBaby from his remix of his hit “What’s Poppin’” after the former was charged with shooting Megan Thee Stallion in the foot (Lanez pleaded not guilty to the charge) and the latter faced controversy for his homophobic remarks on the 2021 Rolling Loud stage, he didn’t think it made sense to alter the track. “My character, my integrity are very important to me,” he told Rolling Stone. “It doesn’t feel right as a grown man to speak for other grown men all the time.”
“One thing’s for sure, is that Megan got shot,” he continued. “And I wish her nothing but love and respect.”
As for his old DJ Ronnie Lucciano, who was a member of Harlow’s Private Garden musical group, he couldn’t go into much detail in the interview due to legal reasons. Lucciano turned himself in for the shooting death of Kasmira Nash in May 2021 at Ultra Lounge, where Harlow had been hanging out with his friends leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
“I was down for weeks off of that,” he said in the new cover story. “It’s definitely one of the darker things that I’ve ever faced.”
When it comes to scandal, Harlow also has room for error as a white man working in a genre forged by Black artists. Though he rests easy knowing he doesn’t say the N-Word and therefore won’t ever be exposed for it — “I don’t say that s–t [even] under my breath in my room by myself,” he said — he revealed that he is “paranoid” about someday being canceled. He even touched on the aftermath of Macklemore winning the best rap album Grammy over Kendrick Lamar in 2014.
In a move that seemed performative to some, the “Can’t Hold Us” rapper publicized his text exchange with Lamar, proving that he’d directly apologized for winning against him. “I vividly remember that moment, and I vividly remember the reaction,” Harlow, who’s nominated for two Grammys this year, told Rolling Stone.
One thing he doesn’t ever worry about, however, is whether he deserves a seat at the table. “People could ask, ‘Is it right for you as a white person to rap?’” he said. “But people see I have an innate passion for rapping, so they don’t ask me that question.”
“I love this s–t so much that I’m gonna go out on that court and play as hard as you’re playing,” he continued. “And we’re not gonna discuss if it’s OK. Let’s play ball.”