While he could’ve released projects immediately following his “life-changing night,” he moved more intentionally—reminiscent of rap’s greats.
“When my life changed on the Emmy night, and I got this mass amount of followers and people peeping me in the street and saying, ‘What’s up?,’ to me. I realized that I can’t just put out any-damn-thing,” the acclaimed multi-hyphenate expressed. “I realized that as an actor, I have been blessed to be in a position where people hold me at this stature and at this level where the work is so solid and grounded. And so, I didn’t want to throw music out that didn’t complement it…But at the same time, I felt like, ‘Wow, my acting career’s taken off,’ that was the same point where I felt like my music career needed a new focus, shift, and a new understanding.”
“So, in 2022, I was shootingAmazon’sI’m a Virgo. And then immediately fly to New York to shoot HBO’s Full Circle. I realized that my entire year would be focused on the characters I would build. And so, I went into panic mode. And so, in panic mode, I went into focus mode. I was like, ‘All right, you know what? Let me [devise] a way to let out as many songs as I can all at once without it being this big grand thing.’ I [divided] the songs into different packs; the first is all about my bars. Strictly Hip-Hop. Strict reminding you where I’m from—the BX—and the type of music I grew up listening to.”
Rap Pack is one of the four packs. Upon releasing its leading single, “The Cycle,” he set the internet ablaze. Social media was enamored with the single and compared his “timeless” flow and potential star power to Kendrick Lamar and Drake. Jharrel is “totally aware” of the comparisons and “welcomes them.”
“[Those comparisons] make me feel like I’m 100% on the right path,” he excitedly admitted. “I know exactly what that means. I don’t think that means I am emulating Kendrick, or I’m copying Kendrick. I think that means I’ve got that ferocity, that tone, that confidence that he has. And I’ll hold onto that as a compliment and take that as, all right, cool, let me keep sharpening my own tool. There could be a moment where I’m like, ‘I want to be my own artist,’ but this is the work that is destined for me to do to become my own artist and to become somebody who grows in, and they start saying, ‘that’s Jharrel Jerome.’”
“In my opinion, all of those great emcees when they first came out, it was the same deal. Kendrick was very much compared to Em and Andre, and you had Drake sounding like Wayne and Kanye, right? And then, eventually, these beasts of an artist, they took that as fuel and created their own lane,” he added. “But everybody has to be inspired by somebody—we all the babies of somebody. And so if somebody says, oh, you sound like Kendrick. You sound like Cole, you sound like Drake, I’m going to say, thank you because those were the people I looked up to. Those were the people who taught me by the time I got to high school.”
Rap Pack is available to stream now on all major DSPs.