Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Written by Jelani Driskell
Illustration by Elisha Osemobor
In Big Mood, staff writer Jelani Driskell highlights the people behind the vibe, profiling the little-known artists behind the cutting edge of music.
Tierra Whack. Tierra Whack. TIERRA WHACK. For several months, I had heard Tierra Whack’s art be praised by people whose music taste I really respect, but I never got around to listening to it. Around the time of the release of Meek Mill’s #1 album, Championships, Meek went on Twitter to answer questions from fans. “Who do you think is the best up [sic] incoming/new rapper in the game?” one fan asked. “Tierra Whack” he responded simply. While Meek is surely biased (he and Whack both hail from Philadelphia) he was definitely onto something.
In 2018, Tierra Whack released her debut album entitled “Whack World”, a 15-song, 15-minute project. I enjoyed the project upon first listen, but the structure truly baffled me—all of the songs, at one minute each, felt like teasers. Still, her virtuosic rapping, her catchiness as a singer, and her natural strangeness stuck out. This past month, Tierra Whack released two new songs, “Only Child” and “Clones” as part of her #WhackHistoryMonth installment. These two songs are great insight into her mastery of what some could argue to be two different genres of music.
“Only Child’ finds Whack lamenting a previous relationship she had with a seemingly selfish and aloof significant other. “You must be an only child, because you’re so stingy/ I just wanna go buck wild, when you don’t defend me” she sings, over a synth-y, reverberating, Frank Ocean-esque beat. From the lyrics, one can glean that her ex cheated, as well as tried to justify a sense of mistreatment. Regardless, the overall feeling of the song transcends that of bitterness stemming solely from a significant other—this is a good song to play when you might be feeling neglected or unwanted. One Youtube comment reads “I’m adding this to my ‘I don’t have a father’ playlist”—that’s how deep it can go.
For a different vibe, Whack’s song “Clones” finds her brashly confronting those who she feels she has influenced a bit too much. The beat houses a shrill, rising and falling noise as well as hard thumping bass—the makings of a banger. The song feels like a commentary on the current state of hip-hop, where many rappers sound the same and everyone is saying the next guy stole their sauce. What gave me this impression is in the pre-chorus where Whack adopts a voice that sounds like her mimicking a dumb person: “I just wanna make my dough/ gotta take care of my kids!” Not mention one of her ad-libs on the song which is simply her saying “ad-lib!” Nevertheless, Whack’s quirky, yet charming personality is on full display with this track. Independent of any commentary she might be making, this song is a slapper.
It feels like I was late to the Tierra Whack party. Apple Music recently asked her to curate her own playlist as part of their “Up Next” initiative highlighting budding artists. She has interviews with major publications like The Fader, Billboard, and several others, and her name is swirling around the industry. Still, it feels like there’s another tier of success that she’s on the verge of; people are still sleeping on her. Her Funkmaster Flex freestyle has less than 70k views despite it being all caps AMAZING. She’s talented and idiosyncratic enough to last in the industry that swallows artists. If I’m a bandwagon fan, I’m a very satisfied one.