WHEN JACK HARLOW first hit the MTV Video Music Awards stage last year, he emerged from the makeshift jail cell choreographer Sean Bankhead delegated him too in a black leather fit to tell us about how he hadn’t peaked in high school and was, in fact, out here getting cuter. “Industry Baby,” his record —breaking collaboration with Lil Nas X, is up for six awards at this year’s ceremony — including the coveted Video of the Year – but the Kentucky rapper already has his sights set on his next big VMAs moment: taking flight with a “First Class” performance, joined onstage by Fergie, whose 2006 song “Glamorous” was famously sampled in the hit single.
Harlow began his performance sauntering through a makeshift airplane, donning a flight attendant’s outfit as he sauntered down the aisle, passing a star-studded list of “passengers” that included Avril Lavigne and Lil Nas X, Jimmy Fallon, Druski, Saucy Santana and Chloe Bailey.
Harlow is among the night’s most nominated artists with eight nods, including Artist of the Year. He’s trailed by Lil Nas X and Kendrick Lamar, who have seven with Harry Styles and Doja Cat following closely behind with six nominations. His “Industry Baby” nods include Best Direction, Best Choreography, Best Collaboration, Best Art Direction, and Best Visual Effects. The rapper also appears in the crowded Song of the Summer category, where “First Class” goes up against hits from Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Steve Lacy, and more.
It may be his first solo VMAs appearance — but over the years, Harlow has come to be pretty well known for his red carpet-ready charisma, from flirting with Saweetie to wearing Lil Nas X merch at the BET Awards. Now, he has an even bigger audience to charm as he sets the tone for the night alongside Nicki Minaj and LL Cool J as a 2022 VMAs MC, a revamped version of the traditional hosting gig.