What do college kids and middle aged parents have in common? They both were represented at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry last night attending Jack Harlow and ALLBLACK. Both artists rocked the stage and made the (often considered comfy and cozy) venue feel like an arena. By the time the show was done, we were all left wondering how these rappers from Louisville and Oakland haven’t blown up yet.
ALLBLACK started things off for us, and managed to get the crowd bumpin’ before Harlow’s name was even uttered. The Oakland lyricist went beyond the job description of musician and turned out to be not only an amazing entertainer but outstanding hype-man. On several occasions, he asked the crowd to pull out lighters and flashlights to light up the stage, at one point even demanding a moment of silence for Nipsey Hussle. He was powerful, strong, and overall commanded respect like no other. A highlight of his opening act was when he called upon a guy in the crowd, asking him where he was from, responding with “Wisconsin” – this man’s night was about to be completely flipped on his head. The crowd booed, and with a wink in his eye and curious hybrid between humor and rage, ALLBLACK yelled “yo, F*** WISCONSIN” and the crowd went nuts. Minnesotans are often known for being “Minnesota Nice,” but all is called off once the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, or anything related to our neighbors to the east is mentioned and ALLBLACK capitalized. By the time ALLBLACK left stage, the audience was left chanting “HARLOW” and goosebumps crawled up my spine.Harlow came out rocking KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) Timberwolves jersey and chained necklace, ready to wow the crowd with his electric yet laid-back stage presence. What makes Harlow unique, besides his sound and personalized lyrics, is how engaged he is with the crowd on a physical level. Several times, Jack would walk almost INTO the crowd and clasp hands and give out fist-bumps as he walked back and forth on stage. He wowed us off the bat with his engagement, but things turned around and took Harlow back only a few songs in. Jack paused between songs, looking at the crowd and asked “who was listening before Confetti?” (his most recent, award nominated mixtape). The crowd went wild, and in that moment we didn’t see the rapper or stage performer known as Jack Harlow today – the look in his eyes showed the kid who started rapping in Louisville a few years back, taken aback by his infatuated, loyal followers. The crowd cheered, his jaw dropped, eyes went wide, and his hand covered his mouth, almost to hide his disbelief … The rest of the night took off on an accelerated path. The guy not only sold out the 7th Street Entry, but he also did it in impeccable style. At one point, the crowd was so innamered they literally tried pulling him off stage before he asked not to be grabbed so much. Talk about fandom!
Before the night was over, Harlow chatted us up about his travels and experiences, mentioning how he went to the Mall of America and did the famous Mirror Maze, as well as attended the Timberwolves game the night before the show – even apologizing for loss. Harlow thanked Minneapolis, but the real thanks was owed to him. He gave us a heck of a show, introduced us to a fantastic artist in ALLBLACK, and made it clear that Louisville’s rap game is just as good as its Bourbon game. When he thanked us for helping him sell-out the show, a crowd-member yelled “Target Center is next!” and Harlow cracked a grin – I don’t know about you but I could see it happening the next time Jack swings through the Twin Cities. One thing is for sure: as much as I enjoyed standing with a group of moms and dads towards the back, I’m going to be front row next time.