Today’s Song: Jack Harlow’s “Lovin on Me” Has Roots Tied Down in Detroit

Jack Harlow © Cian Moore
Jack Harlow © Cian Moore
Against bass lines, hip-hop syncopated beats, and a hypnotic sample, Jack Harlow’s bouncy earworm “Lovin on Me” is his first solo track since April 2023’s ‘Jackman.’, and here, Harlow is found being charismatically flirty.
by guest writer Blake McMillan
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Stream: “Lovin On Me” – Jack Harlow

The first thing that grips listeners on Jack Harlow’s “Lovin On Me” is not Harlow himself, but an artist named Cadillac Dale. “I don’t like no whips and chains and you can’t tie me down, but you can’t whip your lovin’ on me, baby,” Dale originally sang on 1995’s “Whatever (Bass Soliloquy),” an R&B track sampled and repurposed by Harlow.

Lovin on Me - Jack Harlow © Angie Reed Garner
Lovin on Me – Jack Harlow © Angie Reed Garner

“Lovin On Me,” released through Atlantic Records on November 10, debuted at No. 2 behind Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer,” before moving up to the top spot its second week. It steadily sat atop Apple Music’s charts (above holiday tracks) until Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday 2 dethroned it on Friday, December 8; at the time of publication, it’s back to No. 1.

Harlow teased a snippet of the song on TikTok (and a mullet) at the end of October. The American received widespread attention in 2021 after featuring on Lil Nas X’s “INDUSTRY BABY,” his first Billboard No. 1. 2022 saw the release of his sophomore album Come Home The Kids Miss You, followed by 2023’s Jackman. Harlow announced “Lovin On Me” on Instagram the day before its release, stating that it was the start of “a new era” for his career. He previously sampled Fergie’s “Glamorous” on his 2022 lo-fi single “First Class” – his second No. 1 – but the Cadillac Dale sample puts a relatively unknown track by a Black artist in the mainstream, a feat akin to Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE.

I’m vanilla, baby, I’ll choke you, but I ain’t no killer, baby
She 28, telling me I’m still a baby
I get love from Detroit like Skilla Baby
And the thing about your boy is
I don’t like no whips and chains, and you can’t tie me down
But you can whip your lovin’ on me, baby
Whip your lovin’ on me, baby
Jack Harlow © Cian Moore
Jack Harlow © Cian Moore

“Lovin on Me,” which is compositionally heavier than lyrically poetic, loops the sample throughout.

One may not even really know what Harlow is singing about because they’re so distracted by that repeating vocal line from Dale, a Detroit native. The color of Harlow’s voice is deep, friendly mannered, which accomplishes casual coolness, drawing listeners in. Harlow leads with, “I’m vanilla baby, I’ll choke you, but I ain’t no killer, baby.” The song continues to pay homage to Detroit as Harlow name-drops up-and-coming Detroit rapper Skilla Baby: “I get love in Detroit like Skilla Baby.” Harlow speak-sings with the Cadillac Dale sample, tonally harmonic thanks to Dale’s try-hardness against Harlow’s chillness. The entire Detroit-ness of it all, on the 50th Anniversary of hip-hop, seems like it’s a love letter to flirting over coney dogs.

Young J-A-C-K, AKA Rico, like Suave, Young Enrique
Speaking of AKA, she’s a alpha
But not around your boy, she get quiet ’round your boy, hold on
Don’t know what you heard or what you thought about your boy
But they lied about your boy, goin’ dumb,
and it’s some’ idiotic about your boy
She wearing cheetah print
That’s how bad she wanna be spotted around your boy

Dale, upon hearing the song, said, “When I heard what they did with my song, I was like, ‘what the fff! I was just blown away.” The two met at a Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving. Cadillac Dale’s certain beats, Harlow said in a video, made writing the song easy in a video thanking each other back and forth.

Harlow evokes double entendres to talk about casual love affairs (it can’t go without mentioning that the sample itself is one itself). Midway through, Harlow raps, “She stole my heart then got archived, I keep it short with a b*** like Lord Farquaad.”

But if there’s only thing you’ll remember about this track, it’s the psychedelic trappings of that sample, so catchy that it’s no wonder Harlow chose it. It’ll makes you think, ‘What a shame no one heard it before now.’

Young M-I-S-S-I-O-N-A-R-Y
You sharp like barbed wire
She stole my heart, then she got archived
I keep it short with a b, Lord Farquaad
All the girls in the front row (ayy)
All the girls in the barricade (ayy)
All the girls that been waiting all day,
let your tongue hang out, f- everything (ayy)

If you came with a man (yeah, yeah)
Let go of his hand
Everybody in the suite, kicking up they feet,
stand up, dance

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Blake McMillan is a music journalist from Mississippi, living in Jersey City and studying at The New School for Social Research in Manhattan. He is also the creator of the pop music-inspired audio drama “Cassette Tapes from August.” He can often be found talking way too much about pop music. McMillan can be contacted by email at blakemcmillan13[at]icloud[dot]com or Instagram at @ablakespace.

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:: stream/purchase Lovin On Me here ::
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Stream: “Lovin On Me” – Jack Harlow

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Lovin on Me - Jack Harlow © Angie Reed Garner

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? © Cian Moore
cover art © Angie Reed Garner

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