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Jack Harlow keeps calling himself a narcissist. He and I are sitting in a pair of chairs placed between the bed and the floor-to-ceiling windows in a room at the Loews Atlanta Hotel when he says it the first time. I tell him that’s not a characteristic most people would want to attribute to themselves. He shrugs, smirking. “I study what I’ve done. It has led to a little bit of self-centered [behavior], but that’s what has made me the artist I am—my self-awareness. I go back and listen and say, ‘That wasn’t it, Jack.’ Or I watch a video: ‘I can do this better.’”
Of course, this doesn’t mean Harlow is a narcissist—a personality trait associated with an outsized sense of self that leads to a lack of empathy for others. The term he’s probably looking for is “perfectionist.” I see glimpses of his work ethic over the two days we spend together in August. On set for the photoshoot accompanying this story, Harlow is both fun and friendly, but there’s an intensity about him and the way he works. He’s particular about the small details on set, asking questions about staging and tweaking skits that include him and his cover co-star, Druski.
As the crew takes photos at Topgolf, a popular hangout in the city, Harlow becomes fixated on an idea. Shaking a canister of toothpicks he keeps in his pocket, the rapper places one between his teeth while calmly flagging down an employee driving around the range collecting golf balls. Before long, Harlow’s behind the wheel, posing for photos, as Druski holds up a camouflage speaker and blasts Akon’s “Right Now (Na Na Na)” nearby. Later in the evening, when the crew has traveled to the last set, a nearby BP gas station, to capture Harlow and Druski in a 1996 Mercedes- Benz convertible, Harlow makes a point of getting to know the car’s owner, just as he has done with other crew members throughout the day. It’s not raining enough to shut down the shoot, but Harlow is worried about the vintage car’s interior getting too wet. Between posing for photos with Druski, he continuously checks in with the owner of the Benz to make sure he’s comfortable with continuing.