Monday, May 9th, 2022

Jack Harlow – First Class

Judging by the score, he’s flying premium economy, tops.


Al Varela: Jack Harlow will never top his verse on “INDUSTRY BABY” for me, but he can always get close by leaning into what makes that verse so good; effortlessness. Jack Harlow makes it look easy, and his quick cool flows are what make him stand out among the other white rappers trying too hard to impress an audience that will inevitably reject them. “First Class” understands this, giving Harlow the space to cruise through the floating piano chords and breathy Fergie sample to make a song all about the luxury he surrounds himself with. It’s a pretty basic song at its core, I expect my peers to make immediate, if accurate comparisons to Drake, but it’s one that’s so easy to like and chill to that it doesn’t really matter. The composition is pretty, the chorus is catchy but not intrusive, it’s a great song to kick off the upcoming summer.

Joshua Lu: It’s nice enough nostalgia bait that’s sure to shoot endorphins into many millennial brains, but aside from the Fergie interpolation, you just have a mediocre white guy trying to pass off his success as aspirational. Him riffing off of the letters in “glamorous” is cute enough, and it would have been even better if he didn’t clearly run out of ideas less than halfway through the word.

Edward Okulicz: Sometimes to dissect a number one song you don’t get is an exercise that might be best done 15 years from now, probably when someone makes another massive hit from it, the way this made one from “Glamorous.” But what I hear now is a great backing track with nothing more than perfunctory rapping on it. In uniting the TikTok kids and those who would have been TikTok kids in the era of Fergie, it’s an unstoppable force until you actually listen to it.

Micha Cavaseno: One of the cool/bad things about rap is that you get to hear someone else’s voice come out of someone else’s mouth. Let me be clear: I LOVE ghostwriting and biting and shit like that actually. Not if it means someone else doesn’t get recognition or proper compensation, more like the idea of hearing someone else indulge themselves by living out their creativity through someone else as a vehicle to express themselves better. At it’s best it can result in some of the most liberating explorations ever like that time Pharaoh Monche made Puffy talk like he was a Cyberpunk Despot. But at worst, it’s something like Jack Harlow lazily gentrifying Babyface Ray. So I hope, nay, I praaaaay that Ray wrote this in secret and got a nice healthy check off this. Or Harlow pays him for at least three features on the next album. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I swear to god this guy was better at rapping the last time I checked — but here he barely does anything at all, doing shiny suit era sample hackery and sleepwalking through a set of boasts that alternate from very boring to very gross. He sounds drowned out by the riches around him, a victim of his own success and a rap market desperate for a crossover star. If he’s the one, “First Class” does not compellingly explain why.

Thomas Inskeep: Starting off by sampling the one good Fergie single is a good move. (I miss Polow da Don!) Slowing it down like this is even better. And Harlow, of whom I’m instinctively skeptical because, well, he’s a white American rapper, acquits himself well here, helped out by the subtle production. This is absurdly catchy and, dare I say, smart. Actually, more than that, “First Class” is surprisingly great.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I don’t want to wade into the Jack Harlow discourse, all I want to do is bask in the glory of that Fergie sample and how it makes me think of simpler times. 

Nortey Dowuona: That goofy ass smile…he really thinks he did something on this.

Alfred Soto: Rappers and singers have specialized in mumbled noncommittal twaddle for decades, and “First Class” isn’t much worse or much better. He gets by with a lot of help from a sample, which helps him (barely) universalize the twaddle.

Reader average: [4] (3 votes)

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One Response to “Jack Harlow – First Class”

  1. Pharoahe Monch is the greatest. Thank u Micha for brining him awesomeness to mock this vapid dreck.