Is Jack Harlow Lyricist of the Year? No

·4 min read
Photo:  Theo Wargo (Getty Images)
Photo: Theo Wargo (Getty Images)

This is not meant to bash or hate on Jack Harlow one bit. As a personality, I actually find him very likable and funny. His shenanigans with internet personality Druski are always entertaining to watch, his interviews are amusing and I don’t have a problem if you enjoy his music. But why in the hell is he nominated for Lyricist of the Year at the 2022 BET Hip-Hop awards? If it was the Artist of the Year category, I would understand it more. He’s had a widely successful year and his song, “First Class,” is a certified hit.

If you missed it, other than Harlow, some of the other nominees include, Baby Keem, Benny the Butcher, Drake, J. Cole, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar.

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Before anyone thinks it, I’m not mad that he’s a white rapper that’s nominated at a Black award show. If Eminem was nominated back in the day, I wouldn’t have a problem because once upon a time, Em was considered by many to be the best rapper out and he had the lyrical ability to back it up. Harlow, on the other hand, does not. Just look at his 2022 album Come Home The Kids Miss You. While I don’t agree with every person nominated, and I feel there were some snubs, every other nominee has a strong case.

Baby Keem is on the bottom tier of lyricists on this list, but he had multiple standout verses on his debut album, The Melodic Blue, such as on “trademark usa,” “range brothers,” and most notably, “family ties.” Some even argued that he out-rapped Kendrick Lamar on that song.

Speaking of K. Dot, his verse on “family ties” was magnificent and he just dropped one of the most interesting and introspective albums of the year with Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.

J. Cole has been on a tear ever since his 2021 album The Off-Season, which he dropped just to prove that he’s still one of the best. His verse on the festival anthem, “Stick,” is underrated, and his verse on Benny the Butcher’s “Johnny P’s Caddy” is one of the best this year.

There should be no question why Benny is nominated. Lyrically, he’s one of the best rappers out right now and dropped another awesome album with Tana Talk 4. He also showed out on the Black Soprano Family’s compilation album Long Live DJ Shay.

Jay-Z hasn’t dropped an album since 2017. But he has a nice feature on Pusha T’s “Neck & Wrist” and dropped a strong candidate for the verse of the year on DJ Khaled’s “GOD DID.”

Drake’s 2022 album was nothing special lyrically, but he had dope verses on “Jimmy Cooks,” impressive bars on his 2021 album Certified Lover Boy and completely washed Jack Harlow on his song, “Churchill Downs.” Plus he’s the biggest rapper on earth, I get it.

All this is to say, Harlow’s case is not very strong. If you’re talking about rapping ability, Harlow is the worst, there’s not an argument for him to be better than anyone on this list. His 2022 album was not good. It sounded like he was too cool to rap. It was lazy and non-energetic. Despite all of the charisma he has off the mic, he did not display it in the booth.

Some may argue, “he’s young and the kids love him.” Then get a rapper who’s a great lyricist and is loved by Gen-Zers. What about JID, Joey Bada$$, Denzel Curry or Vince Staples? Hell, even Logic. All of them are young artists that have dropped good rap projects this year and have displayed their lyrical ability proficiently.

I’m just confused why BET feels the need to nominate Harlow for this award when it should be reserved for those who have gained respect for their pen game. Harlow has not. The category can still have validity without trying to pander to a younger or wider audience.