In a new feature on Jack Harlow for Billboard, the Louisvillian rapper explained why he consistently turned down pop crossover bids until working with Lil Nas X on “Industry Baby.” In addition to not wanting to be seen as a “novelty act,” he also said that he feels a “certain responsibility” to respect rap as a genre and hip-hop as a culture.
“There is a certain reality that I am white, and I think there will always be something attached to that,” he said. “No matter how embraced I am, there will never be a day that I’m Black. With that being said, there’s a certain responsibility that comes with being a white man in a Black genre, and there’s certain things that have me regarded differently. But there is something exciting about skipping over any barriers that might be there and creating unity.”
In addition, the features also reveals that Harlow was the one who approached Lil Nas X to work, according to Take A Daytrip’s Denzel Baptiste. “What impressed me the most about Jack’s verse was that before we did it, he reached out directly and let Nas know he wanted to work,” he said. “When we got the verse back, it was this super-long idea. It wouldn’t normally fit a pop-song structure, but there were so many amazing moments in it. We produced around it in a way that made it a huge focal point of the song.”
It was clearly a wise move for everyone involved. “Industry Baby” — one of Uproxx’s Best Songs of 2021 — reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 and achieved a level of pop-culture ubiquity that most artists can only dream of. For the “What’s Poppin” rapper and his collaborator, though, it was just one more step in their quest to be the biggest stars ever.