Jack Harlow interview, white men can’t jump

In 1992, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson teamed up to play basketball hustlers in White people can’t jump. Throughout the classic film, elements of culture are masterfully woven into the plot, from “your mom” jokes to bicycle hats.

Recreating this magic, Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow have teamed up to offer a modern interpretation of the film. Early ’90s streetwear like Starter jackets have been replaced by sought-after collaborations with Jordan Brand and Fear of God ESSENTIALS apparel, creating an apt image of today’s cultural landscape. Complemented by the clever jokes that platforms like CashApp and OnlyFans exchange, there is no doubt that the film will serve as a time machine to the 20s in the decades to come.

In preparation for the film’s May 19 release via Hulu, the Hypebeast team met with Jack Harlow, Sinqua Walls, and director Calmatic to discuss taking inspiration from the original film, working with a diverse cast of talent, and more.

Hypebeast: Calmatic, what was the transition from music videos to feature films like for you?

calm: When creating music videos, I feel like I’ve seen it all and have worked out ways to act effectively in every situation. Going into the features, I assumed I didn’t know anything, but after all, we use the same tools – from cameras to lights – and I quickly learned that not only do I know the scenery, but I also have a unique perspective.

How did you approach taking inspiration from the original film?

calm: There are so many Easter eggs in the original movie that I wanted to recreate, from the shoes to the style. As a result, we were able to bow to modern streetwear in many ways.

From classic Jordans to brands like Essentials, modern style plays a noticeable role in the film. What was the approach to its inclusion?

calm: We all know that hoopers get free clothes, shoes, etc. and it looks like every one of them has a Nike Kobe 6 ‘Grinch’. So Kamal (Walls’ character), despite having a mediocre job, has a distinctive basketball look that connects to his backstory. As for Jeremy (Harlow’s character), he has a hippie vibe and sticks to his ALD x New Balance 650 shoes, which have apparently already been stuck in the ground – which ties in with his character’s past. Add to that, each of them is a piece of rock that fits their personalities.

“For me, it was like being a kid in a candy store – putting my favorite songs at the top of the picture.”

With your background in music and a cast of several artists, what was it like creating the soundtrack?

calm: I started with a playlist that resembled Los Angeles. Everything from Sublime to Ab-Soul, artists who are the past, present and future of the city’s sound. For me, it was like being a kid in a candy store – putting my favorite songs at the top of the picture.

And Jack Harlow’s performance as a new actor impressed you the most?

calm: His confidence. You wouldn’t think it was his first time on set, he made it. In the midst of filming, he releases his biggest album, topping the charts and still staying in suspense from start to finish.

Jack and Sinqua, you have great chemistry throughout the movie, how did you build it?

Jack Harlow: With us, we’re two intellectual souls, and that’s something I recognized right away – Sinqua has great intuition. We had a lot of laughs, but when all was said and done, we just fucked each other.

What about the original film inspired you the most while making this one?

Harlow: Race relations.

Sinqua Walls: What the original did so well was to create a cultural background – the jokes were relevant to the times. It was our responsibility to make sure we portrayed what is really going on with culture right now. One element that was really important to us was mental health. It connects the characters, but also plays a key role in their development.

What parts of your personality have come to life through your character?

Walls (to Harlow): Do you really dress like Jeremy?

Harlow: hell no. It was a great starting role for me because I was able to breathe my personality into Jeremy. Of course, there are points of exaggeration, but it didn’t feel like a huge departure from myself. I was really blessed to be able to play like this easily. However, I am happy to be able to step out of my body and move forward.

walls: I was traveling myself, so while fighting for Kamal’s mental health, I felt a personal connection in my performance. The adaptation came naturally to me, and there was a lot of imitation life art in how his story unfolds in the film.

“It’s hard not to be the boss.”

Jack, how does being a rapper compare to being an actor? Have you encountered any unexpected challenges?

Harlow: It’s hard not to be the boss.

Fitting a role, not being a leader?

Harlow: I don’t even have to explain, you understand.

Sinqua, what was it like working with such a diverse cast of musicians, athletes and actors?

walls: What was really cool for me was that everyone, regardless of background, came with the same commitment and the same goal, which was to tell the same story. Throughout the process, it didn’t seem like anyone was doing anything other than performing. I’m spoiled because going forward, I can’t imagine this is something I’ll ever see again.

Jack, can you really jump?

walls: Yes! Listen, I’ll answer this. I’ve said it many times, but Jack Harlow can legally dive on a ten-foot hoop, and every time he’s done it, I’ve been amazed.

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