A bold, singular sound to lose yourself in...

For years now, Tierra Whack has been seen as a pioneer of experimental R&B. From commonly being referred to as the Missy Elliott of this generation, to her acclaimed 15-minute project ‘Whack World’, the artist has always brought cutting edge production, and the ability to take risks to all who listen. However, it is on her debut LP ‘WORLD WIDE WHACK’ that Whack demonstrates the latest evolution in her sound; poetic, yet blatant emotional honesty. 

Moving between abstract production and intimate detail of the artist’s psyche over the last few years, the album turns Whack’s previously established sound up a notch, delving between various genres, lyrical flow, and sonic embellishment throughout its runtime. The first few tracks are most reminiscent of the sound the artist previously explored on her last few releases, displayed by the airy xylophone melody introducing ‘CHANNEL PIT’ and the ambient synth backing that guides the album’s opener ‘MOOD SWINGS’. However, even when looking to the past Whack still allows her theatrical experimentation to soar. A standout is ‘MS BEHAVE’, a track that is dominated by bouncy, addictive beats and sudden cadence switch ups. From the start you can tell that Whack is attempting to hold nothing back on this latest work. However, it becomes abundantly clear as the album delves into its latter half, and an emotional weight truly starts to hit.

In the middle section, what was hinted at in the aforementioned opening track title solidifies; subtle lyrics drafted amongst production get unleashed, with Whack delving headfirst into emotional vulnerability. This comes through in pressing lyrics that take a clearer look at Whack’s psyche, their darker tone following the experimental ebb and flow, mirrored by brooding, low-note drones and distorted vocals. Nothing is off the table when it comes to the wordplay. Whack touches childhood trauma, pleading with the listener: “Felt this way since I was young / Tell me what could I have done different?” on the ambient, yet sorrowful ‘NUMB’. On ‘X’, chant-like vocals are intriguing and candid, as she talks of those who have left her throughout the years. Perhaps the most cutting of these is the LP’s closer ‘27 CLUB’, a reference to the informal list of the same name, a dark place Whack has previously found herself residing in. Its lullaby-like instrumentation comes off cathartic, reminding the listener of the album’s core tenet: to create an honest, vulnerable album that provides a space for these conflicted feelings.

Of course, with the heavier subject matter we still get some lightness and levity, a standout being ‘SHOWER SONG’, a funk-inspired track with a killer bassline and playful lyrics. Still, it’s when the album is emotionally bare that its most engaging. We’ve seen all types of sound and productions come out of Whack’s colourful discography over the years, but it’s the honest messaging that makes ‘WORLD WIDE WHACK’ her bravest work to date. This is music to get lost in. Whack seems to have lost herself and found herself within it too.


Words: Lily Blakeney-Edwards

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.