There’s A New Super Power In Hip-Hop & R&B And Her Name Is Tierra Whack (Video)
Tierra Whack has taken the traditional mode of the “concept album” to a different (and sometimes bizarre) place. The Philadelphia native began her career as a teenaged Dizzle Dizz, but even a name change has done little to sway the visionary from creating her brand of whack-o, thought-provoking and unorthodox material. Her latest project, Whack World, is only 15 minutes long and is comprised of 15 one-minute-long tracks. As such, it should feel like an abrupt, sharply punctuated series of snippets thrown together. However, the end result is robust leaves one wanting more.
To accompany the audacious “album,” Tierra Whack released a self-described “visual and auditory” treatment that is, in essence, a 15-minute album trailer. In it, she showcases Whack World in chronological order, beginning with a Missy Elliot-style vignette featuring ingenious use of nail art and hoodie for “Black Nails.” The next track is introduced by nightmarish special effects that leave half of her face swollen, and the following by the weirdest dog-grooming practice you’ve ever seen. The journey continues through a series of equally inventive treatments, some more subdued than others. Thibaut Duverniex and Mathieu Léger are the video’s co-directors.
In an interview with the New York Times, Tierra Whack discusses her career beginnings and what inspired the outlandish ideas behind Whack World. She credits freestyling in front of fellow Philly rapper Meek Mill, as well as Harlem’s A$AP Rocky, to some of the earliest attention her rapid-fire delivery garnered. It’s evident, however, that her innate talent need not rely on the accolades of more established rappers. She says she was encouraged to push herself creatively because of the obstacles she faced as a young woman in a male-dominated Philly Rap scene. “Once I got comfortable enough to do my poems with beats, it gave me more confidence to want to get out and prove myself in the city. It was something that everyone was doing — all the guys, and I was a girl, so I had to work 10 times harder to get better than all the guys.”
The abstract, sometimes scatter-brained hallmarks of Whack World, says Tierra Whack, are inspired by what her mom says is her very short attention span. Her “whack world” is “down, then up, down, then up. It’s scary, it feels good, it doesn’t. It’s crazy, it’s calm. It’s everything. That’s exactly me. Like, I was just washing dishes, eating grapes, now I’m about to go to the bathroom then I’m going to wash some clothes. Yeah. It’s like a roller-coaster ride. My mom says I have — what is it, A.D.D.? Can’t sit still.” She continues, “And my age, my generation, we get bored so easily. I know how I am — I’ll listen to a new song and I only want to hear 30 seconds of it before I tell you, “Nope — trash.” I have a really short attention span, but I have so much to offer. I wanted to put all of these ideas into one universe, one world. I’m giving you a trip through my mind.”
While the seven-track-album trend is forcing Hip-Hop to change the way it thinks about packaging art (thanks to Kanye West-produced albums for himself, Pusha T, Nas and his Kid Cudi collabo), Tierra Whack is taking similar cues. She was reportedly inspired to divide Whack World into minute-long cuts by Instagram’s 60-second time limit on videos. Despite its short length, Whack World will likely ensure Tierra Whack’s 15 minutes of fame last far longer.