Jack Harlow isn’t used to accepting awards in front of crowds. The 23-year-old “What’s Poppin’” rapper was awarded virtually with the title of Songwriter of the Year, as well as Song of the Year at the 2021 SESAC Pop Music Awards but he came up short on his first Grammy this year and didn’t win in the four categories he received nominations in at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards. He’s up for two more Grammy awards next year as a featured artist and songwriter on Lil Nas X’s Montero album.
On Saturday (Dec. 4), Harlow received some well-deserved recognition at Variety’s annual Hitmakers award event in downtown Los Angeles. The Louisville native won Variety’s Hitmaker of Tomorrow award and graciously accepted it with a speech revealing the last time he received an award in front of a crowd was when he was a competitive second grader.
“I went to an elementary school that had a competitive program,” Harlow said. “You could read a book and then take a quiz on that book, and if you passed the quiz, indicating you had really read the book, you would get awarded a certain amount of points. The bigger more challenging the book, the more points you earned. I read every book I could find. I read all the Harry Potter books. Boy, those Harry Potter books are worth some points.”
“So we get to the end of the school year and there’s a big assembly,” he continued. “The entire school is there, in my memory at least it feels like a stadium full of people. The climax of this assembly is the staff announcing the top three students who had read the most, or at least, had been credited the most points for reading.”
Harlow went on to say that he watched two fifth graders come in second and third place, before his name was called. “I had beat the entire school. I won by a landslide, I probably had quadruple whatever second place had,” he recalled.
“I think if you took a picture of me on this stage and showed that kid, he’d be pretty blown away,” Harlow said. “It was a competition and it brought out the competitor in me, which is a big part of the genre I’m in. All that reading is what made me the writer I am now, and I’m pretty sure it’s what’s going to make me the Hitmaker of Tomorrow.”
Check out Jack Harlow’s full acceptance speech below: