Tierra Whack – ‘World Wide Whack’ review: she’s smashed it again

There’s a scene in Cypher, the gripping pseudo-documentary about Tierra Whack, that sees the Philadelphia rapper stock up on board games and toys (Jenga’s in there, proving her impeccable taste) at the supermarket. She also buys some slime, which speaks to the slippery nature of a film that begins as a straightforward doc before morphing into a fabulously weird meta-horror.

If the film represented one kind of puzzle – what was real and what was fake? – her first album, 2018’s ‘Whack World’, represented another. The record consisted of 15 songs, each of them a minute long and vacuum-packed with sticky melodies and masterful flows. Its follow-up, ‘World Wide Whack’, is a more conventional album that she has, with typical playfulness, billed as her debut. Here the 28-year-old slightly dials down her more outlandish influences, which run from Missy Elliott to Eminem, and dials up the more forthright approach taken by her ultimate idol, Lauryn Hill.

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The latter mode is most fully realised on ‘27 Club’, an achingly emotional track about the bleak thoughts that emerge “when the world seems like it’s against you”. This is a lullaby with which Whack navigates the darkest recesses of her psyche, crooning about thoughts of “suicide” against an appropriately comforting soundscape of tinkling keys and pulsing bass.


‘Difficult’ explores similar turmoil as, accompanied by guitar so muted you can hear fingers on the fretboard, she confesses that “living is difficult”. On the jazzy ‘Burning Brains’, meanwhile, she seems to criticise her own dissatisfaction: “Soup too hot / Ice too cold / Grass too green / Sky too blue.”

Yet Whack also undercuts that track’s sincerity with an artificially garbled voice that sings mush-mouthed nonsense. It’s the meeting point of an album that teems with a Whackian sense of humour: see whimsical lead single ‘Shower’, which wouldn’t have sounded out of place in truncated form on ‘Whack World’, and the xylophone jam ‘Chanel Pit’. Best of all is ‘Moovies’, an irresistible ‘90s throwback that evokes the joy of a great date (and a decent horror flick): “Larry / Took me to see something scary / Maybe we can get married.”

Playful and sincere, mature but childlike, featherlight and occasionally heavy, this assured record sees Whack pull off a Jenga-like balancing act. She’s still playing games, but now she’s doing it to reveal universal truths about the pain that can coexist alongside everyday bliss. ‘World Wide Whack’ is her most compelling puzzle yet.


Tierra Whack

  • Release date: March 15
  • Record label: Interscope Records