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SOUNDTRACK: JACK HARLOW-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #176 (March 3, 2021).

Tiny Desk had posted exclusively black artists for Black History Month.  So it feels really weird to follow that up with a white rapper.  And, yes, it feels even weirder to see him surrounded by all black musicians–although they seem to be really into it, so clearly I’m the only one who finds it odd.

Jack Harlow is apparently huge, but I’ve never heard of him.  I am greatly puzzled by his outfit in this video.  Are those leather pants?  I can’t tell.  And with that jacket–he looks really uncomfortable.

The Louisville, Ky., emcee delivers a performance with the confidence of an old pro. His set, however, is the first time he’s relied solely on live instrumentation to bring his songs to life. “It’s been a long time since I had a chance to perform and I’ve never done it like this,” he says.  Over the past few years, the 22-year-old rapper has steadily ticked the boxes for a successful career, and this showing undoubtedly checks the performer section.

Indeed, for my mocking in the first paragraph, his flow is really smooth–and apparently more than a bunch of his fans didn’t realize he was white.

I’m disappointed, though, to hear that he doesn’t normally play with a band because this band is tight a anything.  Bassist Joe Cleveland is hot throughout playing some great riffs and runs and “Rendezvous” is a good opening for showcasing his skills.

He says he’s going to play a few songs that he hasn’t played before.

“21C / Delta” really shows off the backing vocalists (Erik B, Chimera Patrice, Porcha Clay) who sing the final word of each line and sing the chorus.  “21C” segues into “Delta” which has some cool improvised keyboard melodies from O’Neil “Doctor O” Palmer.

The orchestration underscores his sentimental and introspective side on songs like “Same Guy” and “Funny Seeing You Here,” but it also elevates the melody, which is the true hero here.

“Funny Seeing You Here” is a quieter song (he sits on a stool for that one) and has a thoughtful side.

He used to say her man was trash and tell me ’bout the way he’d act
I would shake my head until I realized I’m the same as that
Now I wonder, did she tell her man that I’m a trash dude?

“Same Guy” is one of the most honest songs he’s ever written.  It’s got some really great basslines and big vocal flourish from the backing singers.

“Creme/ONCE MAY COMES” features some great drumming from Rico Nichols (his drums sound great throughout including the electronics–the reverse cymbal sound is particularly cool and the big bass really pounds.  “Creme” segues into “ONCE MAY COMES” which is a slower jam.

There’s an awkwardly fake moment before the last song, where he says “I can’t lie fellas, I’m having a really good time. You think we could do one more, maybe?”

Harlow landed a big hit last year in “WHATS POPPIN.” That performance earned him a Grammy nomination ahead of his very impressive debut album, Thats What They All Say.  [I can’t IMAGINE the outrage if he’d won]

Musically this song is really catchy–it’s understandable why this was big hit.  Throughout the set guitarist Rob Gueringer has played some great solos and chords in the background, but he never gets a moment to show off how good he is.  Except near the end of this song when he gets to play a ripping solo to end the set.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “Lunch”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Cristina Henriquez details the joy of a family dinner held at lunch time.  This was either a Panama tradition or a family one–she was never sure which.

Every summer Cristina’s family would summer in Panama where her father grew up. It was very different from the Unites States but it was the same every year.

They stayed at her grandparents’ house and as Cristina woke up, she would smell the garlic that her grandmother was cooking in preparation for the lunch time feast. (more…)

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