The up-and-coming 22 year old rapper from Louisville, Kentucky released his debut album titled That’s What They All Say on December 11, 2020 after rapping for just about five years. The album is a shoutout to his hometown and gateway for future success, tackling everything from dealing with hate, the hustle towards a childhood dream, and support from back home. Harlow’s album is mostly chill-paced with hard-hitting lyrics and background music to compliment his flow. The 15-song album opens with “Rendezvous” and ends with “Whats
Poppin” which is arguably his most popular song, with features Lil Baby, Big Sean, Chris Brown, Adam Levine, EST Gee, Static Major, Bryson Tiller, Dababy, Tory Lanez, and Lil Wayne in between.
“Whats Poppin” with 111 million views on YouTube and incredibly popularized on TikTok threw Harlow into fame. It's been nominated for a Grammy for best rap performance and came in spot #5 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for this year. Along with “Whats Poppin”, his album garnered a lot of attention because of a song named after NBA rookie Tyler Herro, with the Heat star making multiple appearances in the music video. He’s signed to Generation Now and Atlantic Records even though his career started with rapping on Soundcloud. Harlow’s always been set on becoming a rapper ever since he was young, starting to rap at the age of 12 and even getting label offers when he was still in high school. Moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 2017 was quite the catalyst for his career taking off, as he was getting signed to a label and beginning to discover the sound he wanted to share with the world.
That's What They all Say is the type of album you can listen to to get hyped up before a game or blast in your car rolling down the highway. The lyrics, although impactful on their own, are just a part of Harlow’s overall package. His casual rap flow and particular background music make the album carefree and feel-good. Harlow wanted to make it clear to haters that he’s not a one-hit wonder. He’s ready to enter the rap game and bring it to a whole other level with his distinct, but liked sound. While some songs on the album are simply just for entertainment, others carry a message of working hard and never giving up on a dream, despite the struggles to get there. For this reason, Herro was a perfect person to spotlight on the album because before his fame, he was highly doubted and hated on during his high school career.
Lyrics like “gotta cherish the present” and “yall well dressed, but you aint got soul and you can't just sew it on” definitely stood out, but undoubtedly my favorite part of the album was when Harlow’s mother, Maggie, gave a word of advice to him at the end of “Keep it Light” saying, “Look at the faces of all the people you’ve brought together. Watch their reactions. Look at the joy on their faces, Take a moment to really absorb what you've created...what you’re creating...and try to savor it.”
Other than the tracks already mentioned, “Love is Dro” is one of my other favorites because of the laid-back intro, catchy tune, and the interesting features. However, “Baxter Avenue” and “Way Out” were a bit of a let down. More so than the lyrics themselves, the overall speed and vibe of the song wasn’t my style. If anything, I think this just speaks largely of how Harlow is so diverse on the album. Even though he’s labeled as a hip hop rapper, he still includes elements from all other genres so there’s something for everyone to enjoy on the album.
With the album having just been released, it’s hard to tell if it’ll stand up in the genre, but it was expected to have sold over 50,000 times in its opening week. For those who have listened to it, they’ve been calling it, “hella inspiring”, “already legendary”, and “best album this year.” Fans have been praising the album, but also Harlow and his overall potential along with how he talks to his fans through his music, remaining humble and as if fame never changed him. For me, That's What They All Say is a 4.5/5 album. Harlow’s words and the way he delivers them is unlike any other rapper in the game right now and with such a successful debut album, it’ll be interesting to see what is to come for him, even though he isn't all that mainstream just yet.