The boundary-pushing artist has a singular, idiosyncratic vision, but by her own admission, it really does take a village.
In May last year Tierra Whack released her debut LP and casually changed the game. We were at least somewhat primed for it—2017’s “Mumbo Jumbo” was a cut of elastic R&B soundtracking a video that splits the difference between Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Jordan Peele’s Us (which it preceded by 18 months)—and yet still, when Whack World dropped it was an arresting release.
Coming out with 15-song, 15-minute visual album is a bold move for any artist straight out of the gate, but Whack World stands out for more than just its gleeful disregard for tradition and form. The 25-year-old dreamt up a super-stylized universe and proceeded to skip straight through it, from the kitsch, Jim Henson-vibes of “Pet Cemetery,” to the piano staccato strangeness of “Pretty Ugly,” and the unsettling “Bugs Life.” Much like Missy Elliott before her, Tierra swerves female solo star pop tropes at all costs. Standing firmly center-stage she pairs songs with striking images destined to imprint. Cindy Sherman-esque in her ability to shapeshift, Tierra’s proved that experimentation and coloring outside the lines really pays off.
On set for Best Advice Tierra’s a treat, playfully flashing her gold grill, gamely mugging for the camera, and reluctantly parting with her Nintendo Switch (Super Mario is her game) just as the cameras start rolling. At one point she zones out completely, admitting, with a laugh she has no idea what question was just asked. Think about how many times you’ve done that and just blundered on, trying to cover up the fact that you’d mentally dozed off! Frankly, we could all take a leaf out of her book.
As an artist who's still fresh, you can bet she’s still trying to navigate new terrain, including all the crazy opportunities being presented to her. Turns out her “Best Advice” came from OutKast’s André 3000—another artist who stretched the parameters of genre and visual style.
Watch Tierra’s episode of Best Advice, above, and check out all our previous installments with Lizzo, Quincy Jones, Ciara, Rick Ross, Karen O, and many more right here.