Tierra Whack Pulls Musical Inspiration From Every Corner of Life
When it comes to Tierra Whack's sound and aesthetic, fans have learned to expect the unexpected. The Philadelphia native has a creative quality that is one of one, which reflects in every aspect of her artistry, from music videos to music. So it should be no surprise that her pitch to become a 2019 XXL Freshman—in which she stares into a camera while chomping on potato chips—was unconventional. Let her tell it, she just follows her gut.
"We did a little pitch but I was like, 'This doesn't feel right,'" the 23-year-old artist tells XXL, recalling a canned take. "When I ate the chips, that felt right. So, I was like, 'OK, that's what we're going with.'"
Following her artistic intuition has helped the artist formerly known as Dizzle Dizz to become one of the most fascinating and eccentric rising artists in any musical genre, making her a shoe-in for XXL's Freshman franchise. After making some noise on YouTube with her quip-heavy freestyles, she grabbed everyone's attention in 2017 with the far-out, dystopian visual for "Mumbo Jumbo," which earned a Grammy nomination.
By 2018, Tierra Whack seemed fully formed, particularly with the release of Whack World, a collection of 15 one-minute song snippets, delivered with colorful and creative clips to accompany each. It's dubbed "a visual and auditory project" on the accompanying artwork, but in retrospect, Tierra considers it something closer to a "demo" showcasing her vision, abilities and potpourri of styles.
"When somebody's trying to put you onto a new artist, nobody feels like sitting through a three- [or] four-minute song," she says. "I did what I had to do in 60 seconds to prove that people should listen to me... It was just something new, something fresh. It's different, innovative. I think everybody wanted and needed something new, so they appreciate it."
Tierra says the project has changed her life ("The phone started ringing when I dropped Whack World"), and her selection as a 2019 XXL Freshman is sure to similarly boost her stock.
"Me making [the 2019 XXL Freshman Class] is so important because it lets me know that I am making some noise," Tierra shares. "It's just cool to just be recognized. There's still so many people that I've had for years and years down the line who wanted this for me every year. For me to finally get it is really cool."
Tierra Whack's Freshman induction is just another feather in her kaleidoscopic cap. She started 2019 strong with a string of loosies in celebration of her own #WhackHistoryMonth, landed a guest feature on Flying Lotus' Flamagra and has been tapped to perform at Afropunk in Brooklyn, Lollapalooza in Chicago and Made in America in her hometown of Philadelphia. "Philly gives me that raw edge," she says. "We just do us."
Watch Tierra Whack do her in the XXL Freshman profile interview above.
See Photos of Tierra Whack Behind the Scenes at the 2019 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot