This all culminates to a product that college-age listeners eat up.
On Friday, September 10, Harlow performed a sold-out show to a largely Gen Z crowd at the Fillmore Miami Beach. This was the third night of his Crème de la Crème tour, which included Charlotte, North Carolina, native Mavi and Babyface Ray from Detroit, two emerging acts making impressive waves among rap game openers.
Babyface Ray’s set was delightfully reminiscent of the low-key setup of a local rap battle. He performed while the house lights were still on, and the audience, which waited in a line that wrapped around the venue, was still shuffling in. His trap burner “Like Daisy Lane” was a highlight that got arriving crowd, most of whom had never heard the track before, swaying and bumping. Babyface Ray also hosted an onstage twerking competition, which saw him pull girls from the pit to dance onstage for a chance to win a "cash prize." Quite entertaining, even to a venue filled with kids anxious for the main event to commence.
Harlow ripped into the chill, triplet-filled “Tyler Herro,” an ode to the Miami Heat small forward. He name-drops South Beach in the track (and he says Herro was present for the show). The crowd went wild for the bite-size banger, and the high energy persisted as Harlow transitioned seamlessly into “Warsaw,” a sex-fueled slow jam for the Tinder generation that manages to rhyme the title city (the Polish capital, but also a small Kentucky town midway between Cincinnati and Harlow's native Louisville) with words like “foresaw” and “northpaw.” It’s a testament to the free-association lyrical wordplay inherent in Harlow’s genre. (See editor's note on "Warsaw" at the bottom of this story.)
One of Harlow’s selling points is the earnest quality of his lyrics. Toward the end of his set, on “Rotten,” Harlow sang a final couplet that haunted many a Miami bro in the crowd: "Cîroc and Hpnotiq, I'm way out of pocket/Quit all the gossip, I'm simply a product of people I rock with." So much of the rap game, especially today, is about the perception of success. Perhaps what makes Harlow so charming is his ability to find this success without stunting to get it. He’s got no visible tattoos, features McDonald’s drive-thrus in his music videos, and has proudly gone sober.
Other highlights included “Cody Banks” and “Sylvia,” which Harlow released back in 2019 when he still rocked a smooth face and Clubmaster eyeglasses. Diehard fans rejoiced, but the climax didn't arrive till the final two tracks, the smooth Chris Brown collaboration “Already Best Friends,” which Harlow prefaced with a fun anecdote about hitting on girls, and, of course, “Whats Poppin." For the latter, the crowd stood on the Fillmore’s seats, dancing precariously while frantic security guys tugged on their pantlegs and nagged them to come down. Though the chaos may have been reduced, it could not truly be contained, as Harlow’s rapid-fire verses vitalized the venue.
Harlow brought no guests on stage with him during his set. The hourlong performance was simple, which might be what made it so much fun. Aside from the overuse of that radio DJ airhorn sound (you know the one), it was also a sonically pleasing experience.
Editor's note: An alert reader informed us about the Warsaw (population 1,733) connection. A further scan of the lyrics to Harlow's song turns up this couplet — We can smoke something then sip the juice/Two Keys or the Tin Roof (Tin Roof) — which name-checks the two most famous college bars in Lexington, home of the University of Kentucky.