The imaginative reality of Tierra Whack's 'World Wide Whack' - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Philadelphia has produced some of the best rappers to ever bless the mic. We are home to the original gangsta rapper, Schoolly D, the first rap Grammy winners in DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, and arguably the best rapper ever, Black Thought of the legendary Roots crew. All three also represent different aspects and genres inside rap, with styles distinct and uniquely theirs. I truly believe that’s what helps them standout, what makes their music feel timeless. I also truly believe we are watching an artist like this develop in front of our eyes.

Tierra Whack is remarkably distinct in her approach to song-making. First gaining national attention for her song “Mumbo Jumbo,” in which most of the song is unintelligible on purpose, she’s a fearless artist whose individuality is what makes her appeal so broad. Now with the release of her debut LP WORLD WIDE WHACK, Tierra invites us into her world and, oh boy, is the trip worth it.

Tierra Whack - Shower Song

Whack’s playful, and creative spirit is sprinkled throughout the album, including the single “SHOWER SONG.” With bouncy 80’s synth sound as a backdrop care of producer J Melodic, she sits somewhere between singing and rapping and gives us a fun bop to clean up to. Whack has credited OutKast and Busta Rhymes as influences, and you can certainly feel that here; many of her most spirited songs like “SHOWER SONG” or “IMAGINARY FRIEND” remind me so much of The Pharcyde’s debut Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, particularly recalling Fatlip in how she plays with sound and pitch in her voice.

Album-opener “MOOD SWING,” another J Melodic-produced track, feels like a perfect way to begin an project that takes dramatic swings in tone at times. On songs like “MS BEHAVE” and “CHANEL PIT,” in which she raps “I don’t play, farewell / I don’t like to show you my tail / what is that shit I smell / I am that shit you smell,” Tierra is clearly claiming her place in a overcrowded music scene. Flexing her ability to rap as nice as anyone and shows that braggadocio of her early battle rap roots.

Tierra Whack - Chanel Pit

Tierra Whack is nothing if not versatile, and her album can also speak on more personal levels. She raps about a bad relationship in “X,” spitting “he hopes I stick around like a drummer / it must be a bummer / I think we should separate from each other / it’s been like 3 months I can not go further.” She also talks about the love she’s looking for on the groovy Ric and Thaddeus-crafted “MOOVIES,” rapping “I need hope / Make it show in 3D / I want the romance that I see on TV.”

Whack also delves into some dark themes on the album. Sounding almost under water on “NUMB,” Whack reflects “I know I’m blessed but I’m depressed / can’t sleep but I need rest / listen close but I speak less” on top of a beat I can only describe as sounding like circling the drain. “27 CLUB” a reference to the informal club of musicians and artists that passed on at the criminally young age of 27, something the then-27-year-old would presumably contemplate while writing this record. She also envisions the possibility of dying on the song “TWO NIGHT.” Those two songs back-to-back end the album, and it’s a dark way to close, but it doesn’t feel down as much as it feels contemplative in an increasingly dark world.

WORLD WIDE WHACK is an exceptional debut LP. It’s a must-listen, a strong contender for album of the year so far. I expected nothing less from an artist who demands attention with her creativity, and lyrical ability. Tierra Whack is an amazing songwriter and that allows her to be as playful and creative as she wants, and I think she’s on the path to being another one of our Philly greats!

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