Jack Harlow has been on an epic run over the past year, a sprint that peaked this week with his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to a feature on Lil Nas X‘s “Industry Baby.” In a new interview with British GQ, the Louisville, Kentucky rapper talks about the huge influence another MC, Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), has had on his style, from adding the crucial horn stabs on “Baby” to teaching him that songs are never really done.
“I think he sees himself as Mozart or Beethoven,” Harlow told the magazine about West, who has continued tinkering with his latest album, Donda, even after its release. “I think he’s worried, not about what it looks like now but what it will look like in 100 years. Take what happened with the Taylor Swift situation: at the time it was all pitchforks, but now people treat that as iconic. I am always fascinated to see what he does next. This Donda roll-out, people are going to remember that for years.”
Though Harlow talked about how his early music, including breakthrough 2020 hit “Whats Poppin’,” were about baring his soul — but also about going from “just talking s–t” to exploring his life more deeply — there are still some things about that song he doesn’t like.
“I am always noticing lines I could improve,” he said about taking a page from Ye. “But I think people appreciate truth and I think when you have guys like Kanye and songs like ‘All Falls Down’ and being that vulnerable… It changed so many people’s lives. As opposed to ‘Here’s why I am the s–t,’ it’s ‘Here’s why I am not the s–t.’”
Harlow also got candid about how the music industry has gotten more progressive in recent years, including Lil Nas X helping to push the envelope for inclusivity. “That’s what attracted me to [Lil Nas X] as an artist: he’s at the front and center of it, fearlessly,” he said. “But, you know, there is a long way to go.”
And even though he was psyched to hop on Lil Nas’ “Baby,” Harlow said there were some people on his team that didn’t want him to do it, or watch the song’s NSFW video. “But I just realize there is a fundamental difference with how the world is seen by some people. Some people think certain things are wrong,” he said. “There are some people, at the root level – although they don’t want to hurt any gays; they don’t hate gays – they think it is wrong, whether it’s religion or whatever reason it is. But for me, I have never been this way. Never.”