No tour, no problem: Jack Harlow talks productivity during pandemic

Louisville rapper stays hopeful despite cancelled Town Ballroom show, shares inspirations behind 22nd birthday treat, ‘Sweet Action’


After the cancellation of his “Roaring ‘20s Tour” that had a stop at Buffalo’s Town Ballroom in April, Jack Harlow still heard some good news last month.

And it wasn’t just good. It was gold.

On April 5, the Louisville rapper’s TikTok-certified breakthrough hit “WHATS POPPIN” had just gone gold in the U.S. with 500,000 copies sold. And when his first plaque finally arrives, he says it’s going right to his parent’s house. 

“It’s amazing to get my first one but surprisingly even more exciting for me to get plaques to the people involved, because it’s the first one for a lot of them too,” Harlow tells The Spectrum

We caught up with the soon-to-be hip-hop heavyweight after his tour cancellation to chat how he’s handling the pandemic, his birthday present of a project, “Sweet Action,” and what he projects his first move to be when he eventually touches down in Buffalo again. 

Our conversation follows below: 

The Spectrum: How are you staying busy during the quarantine?

Harlow: Staying inside is the best thing we can do to fight the virus, so I’ve been doing my best to stay productive. It’s given me a lot of time to reflect so I’ve been using that time to write a lot of new music and to be honest, it’s some of the best music I’ve ever written.

TS: With “Sweet Action” releasing a month ago and tour now on halt, how have you managed to promote the release?

H: Besides the press promotion stuff, I try to stay as connected with my fans as possible because they’re the reason I am where I am. If I can’t be with them in person, then I have to find a way to be with them in some capacity. I’ve been doing some interviews and I really enjoy doing Instagram Q&A sessions with fans when I get the chance.

TS: You released the record on your 22nd birthday. How’d you celebrate?

H: Luckily I was able to celebrate before everything got shut down. So me and the team went back to Louisville and had a party there. We had dinner at Vincenzo’s and a private party at a club afterwards. It kicked off with me getting in my car and the first thing that came on the radio was “WHATS POPPIN.” When I heard that, even with everything going on, I knew it was going to be a good birthday.

TS: What was your biggest inspiration behind the project?

H: It was really a collection of moments and stories. It’s a short project, so cohesion wasn’t as huge of a priority for me. But there are still patterns to the melodies and tempos that naturally are alike. I was just painting pictures, and focused on making ear candy. 

TS: “WHATS POPPIN” just went gold. Where do you plan on putting the plaque when it ships?

H: Right in my parent’s house. It’s amazing to get my first one but surprisingly even more exciting for me to get plaques to the people involved, because it’s the first one for a lot of them too.

TS: How does it feel to see the track do what it did on TikTok?

H: It’s wild because I didn’t make the song with TikTok in mind and there’s no real challenge or dance to it. It’s really just people looking in the camera but it’s a special thing.

TS: You asked for producers to send you their best beats on Twitter last week, how has that process been and why was it important for you to get some outside submissions?

H: I just figured I could be missing out on some gems. There was once a time where I was submitting things, desperately trying to network with anyone that would work with me. I remember when I was 14 or 15, I would copy and paste tweets to anyone with the word “rapper” in their bio, in hopes someone would want to do a song with me. 

TS: When you finally touch down in Buffalo once your tour gets rescheduled, what’s your first move?

H: The first thing I want to do is play a show. I miss the crowds. I miss the energy. But my favorite part of touring is moving around the city and getting a feel for it. That’s the real privilege. So that is what I’ll do.

Brenton J. Blanchet is the editor-in-chief and can be reached at and on Twitter @BrentonBlanchet. 


Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.