THE JACK HARLOW EFFECT

THE JACK HARLOW EFFECT

If I were to pass a man that looked just like Jack Harlow on the street, I probably wouldn’t even notice him. 

Jack Harlow’s looks aren’t groundbreaking. He’s not a model, nor is he really my type. Despite this reality, I’m attracted to him with every fibre of my being. When I listen to his music or watch him in an interview, I’m completely captivated by the Jack Harlow effect, and I’m not the only one. 

The 23-year old Louisville native is holding the attention of women across borders and racial and ethnic boundaries. It’s important to note his positionality and privilege in the hip hop world, especially as many white rappers arguably rely on the imitation of Black culture to maintain popularity in the industry. White rappers have historically attempted to assert their dominance in the hip hop world without recognizing their privilege. In the instances that white rappers have centered their whiteness in their music, it’s most often tone-deaf and performative. 

Harlow, on the other hand, seems to understand his place and positionality as a white man in the hip hop industry. He appears to understand the nuance and history of the hip hop sphere, and doesn’t think about crossing contentious boundaries in spaces that are not meant for him. 

In other words, he’s smooth, woke, and self-assured. 

As noted in a recent Vox article by Terry Nguyen, Harlow appears to fall into the typical trope of white boy rappers, yet there’s something special about him. The author notes, “his emergence as a mainstream white rapper during a culturally fraught time shows the strength of Harlow’s charisma, even though some listeners aren’t entirely sold on his music.” Harlow has been “white boy of the month” for longer than the traditional four week trope, and it seems like he’s only getting started. 

I’m a brown girl who is definitely hesitant about being attracted to white guys. Being actively anti-racist is a defining factor of my attraction, and the shared experience of being a person of colour has always been important to me. Jack Harlow recognizes the immense talent and resilience of the people of colour around him, and actively discusses and attempts to combat systemic racism. To me, that’s a major turn on. 

We haven’t even begun to discuss his charisma. He oozes it. 

Harlow is undeniably hilarious and knows how to own an interview. The iconic chicken shop date video went viral because his personality is, simply put, so likeable. He’s flirty, sexy, and carries conversations with wit and humour. 

When I watched the Luv is Dro (2021) music video, I had to compose myself. His outfit, swagger, and gestures had me watching the video on repeat for at least a week. I can’t even use the word “swagger” without instantly cringing at Justin Bieber’s 2015 hot boy era, but Harlow embodies the word without even trying. What makes him unique is how comfortable he is in his own skin, and how his quiet confidence and covert sex appeal situate him as sort of a secret in the hip hop world. I can’t help but fantasize about seeing him leaning up against a wall at a party, looking me up, and down as I pour myself another drink. 

I pray that Harlow doesn’t turn out to be problematic or ingenuine, because he’s such a refreshing celebrity crush for me. Aside from appearing to be a good person, this rapper makes me blush and smile in the way any celebrity crush should. Half the appeal of listening to That’s What They All Say (2020) is imagining the rapper perform, crack jokes, and flirt unapologetically. 

Harlow proves that true attraction stems from a person’s energy, values, and charisma. The Jack Harlow effect is powerful, and I hope it’s here to stay. 

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: Christian Högstedt

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