Anyone attracted to men can pinpoint the exact moment they accepted that Jack Harlow is the sexiest creature on the planet. For me, it was his Chicken Shop Date. After 20 seconds of watching him flirt with Amelia Dimoldenberg, I became aware of a disturbing truth: I would enthusiastically trade my firstborn for the opportunity to sit in a greasy chippy with this man.
When I line the 24-year-old Louisville rapper up against the crushes of my childhood, it doesn’t really make sense. Can he throw a punch like Anthony Joshua? Beat Thor in a race? Or leap from iceberg to iceberg like Diego the sabre-toothed tiger from Ice Age? Probably not. I’d even go as far as putting money on Mr Harlow being the guy who used asthma as an excuse to skip PE, just to sneak off to the park for a 3PM spliff. But have I dreamt about him more in the past two weeks than Diego, Joshua and Hemsworth combined? Absolutely.
He’s the people’s princess. The attainable king. He’s the kind of guy who, at first, only seems to be mildly okay due to a fundamental appreciation of basic hygiene and the ability to make you laugh. Inevitably, you end up utterly obsessed. (The curls and ability to make unwavering eye contact play a critical role here.)
Yes, I’ve given it a fair bit of thought. But I’m not the only one. Following the release of teaser videos for his new single “First Class”, the internet went into cardiac arrest. The #jackharlow tag on TikTok has two billion views, and creators have left no stone unturned in analysing all the layers of Harlow’s beauty.
But why has this seemingly average man got us all in such a chokehold? “You know that one goofy guy in high school who you would always try and find reasons to hate on? And then you end up making out with him in a bathroom one night at a random party? And five years later he’s rich, hot and famous?” asks Meelayna Morgan, who is part of Harlow’s TikTok fan base. “That’s Jack Harlow. He’s the goofy goober that got away and also got fucking sexy.”
“I feel like he’d bring me breakfast in bed,” says Helen Fexy, 19, from New York. “Also you just know he smells good.”
Amy Morgan, a 20-year-old fan from Belfast, adds: “He’s the correct blend of cockiness balanced with the knowledge that he would 100 percent pay for your taxi back from his the morning after.”
Harlow is also known for winning over fans in person. “I literally changed my fucking flights from Ireland to New York just so I can try and see him after his concert,” Meg Cassin, another 20-year-old fan, tells VICE. “Have you seen the way he is with his fans? I know he’s objectively average-looking but he’s also the hottest man ever.”
Diehard fan Tanah Becker’s video of her meeting Harlow went viral in January. The TikTok clip reaches its flirty climax with the two of them holding hands through a fence. “I think he’s one of the most attractive men on earth because of how he carries himself,” Becker tells VICE. “He asked questions, he wasn’t an asshole, his nails were did, his curls were fresh, he smelt really good, he was respectful. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
Rachael Lloyd, eHarmony’s relationship expert, has turned to science to help unpack the infatuation. “When it comes to primal mating preferences, confidence and originality go a long way, and Jack has these traits in bucketloads,” she explains. However, Lloyd ultimately puts the obsession down to personality: “Jack’s values are also part of his attractiveness. He champions the Black community and women's empowerment.”
Unlike other prominent white rappers such as Eminem, whose lyrics have frequently demonstrated a brazen disregard for women at best – and misogyny at worst – Harlow has a passionate, Black female fanbase to thank for his rise to fame.
“I think Jack Harlow's appeal to non-white people specifically is that he wants to be cool and icy, but he doesn't want to be Black,” explains Addis Fouché, a writer and creator who goes by The Internet's Most Relatable Wh*re. “It's clear that his place in the rap community is one of mindful kindness; his presence doesn't feel tokenising or predatory at all.”
She points to his friendship with fellow “Industry Baby” musician Lil Nas X as proof: “No other guy rappers right now, white or Black, are really trying to befriend the queer rappers right now, and certainly not that publicly. And on top of that he's fine as hell?”
Will Jack Harlow release us all from his spell anytime soon? It’s looking unlikely. (Message for Jack: If you’ve made it this far… my Twitter @ is literally right there.)