When Tierra Whack builds, she builds big. Her 2018 debut album, Whack World, created a vast, often cartoonish, always-engaging realm of sounds explored over just 15 one minute-long songs. But the visual project was just an appetizer to prepare everyone for what would come next. She had to ease listeners into her story though bubbling rain, vast fields of pink grass, and a sea made of purple soda. With her world established, a new path was opened.
Whack announced #WhackHistoryMonth on Twitter weeks before she officially kicked it off in mid-February with the release of "Only Child." Here, she jumped back into the Whack World universe, only this time, she strayed away from the formal rules she'd established by offering songs of more traditional structure and length rather than one-minute creative explosions. Four more releases followed, one per week, in which Whack completely redefined her artistry and introduced tighter, more impactful versions of the styles shared on Whack World.
These tracks may or may not line the golden road to a new LP; either way, they appear to be a promising indicator of what's to come. Here's a breakdown of Whack's five #WhackHistoryMonth releases of 2019.
When It Dropped: February 19
How It Sounds: Bubbly yet sad, with a slight twinge of scorn
Standout lines: "You must be the only child because you're so stingy / I just want to go buck wild when you don't defend me"
There's something comical about Whack's sadness in "Only Child." Her immediate comparison of a selfish lover to an only child is absurd, telling, and admittedly hilarious. How can you equate cheating with having no brothers or sisters? Rarely is the topic of infidelity approached with this careful balance of charm and scorn, though. The timbre of her voice from frustration and crying leaves her slurred words burning in the chest, but her softer, flitting voice eases the mind. Whack World introduced her ear for stringy melodies, and she confidently expands them here, bringing her range much higher than anything we've heard previously. It makes her raps about that other girl getting syphilis sound like delicious poison.
When It Dropped: February 26
How It Sounds: Heavy, like you need an antacid after scarfing down five cheeseburgers
Standout Lines: "Whack, Whack, damn she killer / Why she got holes in her denim?"
Like a cat tangled in a mess of yarn, Whack World's playfulness was its defining characteristic. "CLONES," meanwhile, is a zoo lion that's been let out of its cage. Whack immediately makes that clear, demanding her engineer leave a recorded sneeze on the track, twice. Then the bass crashes like colliding trains, a devastating growl left in the aftermath. As the gigantic 808s continuously rumble, Whack digs into another facet of her personality: the straight-faced spitter with something to prove. Her raps here don't contain any amount of melody. Instead, she opts for a rattling, low-volume dice roll with each word, her voice bouncing off the walls of the track with each curse, comparison, and humblebrag. These aren't your typical bust-down watches and "Dripping Patek" bars. They're earthier and emotional, with the true flex being her creative voice control.
When It Dropped: March 5
How It Sounds: Floaty and slightly sad, with a sharp flute shining through
Standout Lines: "Swear that I work the hardest / Most of y'all dudes are garbage"
If "Only Child" is a bright path, and "CLONES" is a darker take on her spitting ability, "Gloria" wisely walks the middle road to twilight. The production is beautifully simple: A repeating hi-hat massages the track while a flute runs rampant. The song acknowledges its new approaches as Whack constantly changes-up her delivery ("Hit 'em with the new flow"), adding a self-aware shtick and goofy charm to the otherwise straight-faced song about coming up in the world.
When It Dropped: March 12
What It Sounds Like: Adding some Sprite to your holy water
Standout Lines: "Can't be seen with you / You don't match my fly"
If #WhackHistoryMonth has a unifying theme, it's that Whack's collective sound is much darker than on her last outing. Each track's production is a little bleaker than the last, causing the dry emotions to become clearer each time. "Wasteland" uses a quiet organ to bring some warmth and glue the song together. A weary Whack slurs her rhymes as she swats away interested guys determined to win her attention. You can hear the hint of fear in her voice as she makes a new excuse each time she's approached — something women face again and again. When she asserts her own agency and flat-out denies someone, saying three different variations of "no" in rapid succession on the chorus, the effect is striking.
When It Dropped: March 19
What It Sounds Like: Like a villain with a chest cold
Standout Lines: "Where the cash at? Ayo, pass that / I will stab backs just for bags, racks"
In the past, it's felt like Whack's bright, bubbly personality defined her. Quite the contrary here: Whack is just as harsh as the most evil video-game villain. "Unemployed" is bass-heavy destruction, a bold addendum to her Whack World aesthetic. This song is about power; it’s the type of gargantuan tune that comes when there are no challengers in the immediate vicinity. And, lyrically, she flat-out asserts her dominance, connecting puzzle pieces in wrong ways that turn out right. The "at"s and "ah"s hanging on the ends of words are emphasized and glued together to fit even if they don't make a perfect match.