Celebrating 50 years of hip-hop, Tierra Whack makes one thing clear to her fans at The Broad: ‘Don’t worry about me’

Tierra Whack - The BroadPhotos by Joseph Gray // Written by Rochelle Shipman //

Tierra Whack //
The Broad – Los Angeles
August 26th, 2023 //

More than five years have passed since Tierra Whack gifted us with the ingenious Whack World, a stunning spitfire glimpse into the heart and mind of the North Philly rapper. It’s safe to say a lot has changed since then, but her debut album remains highly acclaimed. Whack made a rare appearance in LA last weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, playing a set at The Broad before none other than Grandmaster Flash himself. She sure wasn’t kidding when she sang, “Don’t worry about me / I’m doing good, I’m doing great, alright” back in 2018, and at this point, she might need to update her lyrics since that’s clearly an understatement.

She took the stage in a classically eclectic outfit: a custom-made dress comprised of three (!!!) different pairs of Levi’s jeans, complete with chunky white boots and spiky, neon red pigtails. The crowd’s initial anxious anticipation evaporated immediately as she bounded onstage, hopping around with a Tigger-like energy. At no point did she pause or falter under the unquestionable weight of all that denim, an appropriately wonky metaphor for some of the messages derived from her music if there ever was one.

Whack is well-known for being a brilliant wordsmith, but she’s equally known for her inventive visuals and the just plain fun she brings to her music. Finally seeing her in person makes that element a bit clearer; she quite simply has no choice because that child-like joy is embedded into her personality — for example, she rolled up to the show with a Bop-It in hand (and no one has ever looked cooler).

Her performance was tight and explosive, her toes nearly on the edge of the stage as she reached out to touch the hands stretching her way. She rapped ferociously, almost as though she was battling the sold-out crowd, rolling through hit after hit without another thought. Only when something would catch her attention did she veer slightly off course with wonder, letting her unscripted vulnerability take center stage, like when she gleefully noticed that some residents in the apartment building looming over us were getting a free show.

Tierra Whack - The Broad

“Sing it to the windows!” she shouted during “Pet Cemetery” before turning and leading the crowd in crooning “all dogs go to heaven.”

One of the most impressive parts of Whack’s talent is how creatively she’s able to balance heavy subjects with a perfectly weird sense of humor and a touch of reality-based absurdity on top of that. At the age of 28, she emanates glee no matter what the topic is. Before launching into her country-tinged diss track “Fuck Off”, Whack requested middle fingers in the air, “even you VIP folk.” She scanned the attendees before landing on the lone photographer to the right of the stage. “Hey hey hey, you, with the shirt. Middle finger.” The photographer responded by lifting his camera to capture the direct attention she was giving him. “Nope, no camera. Middle. Finger,” she stated calmly. Once he obliged, she turned back to the crowd and said, “OK, let’s do it. We’re ready,” before launching into her zany, embellished country accent to sing, “Well honey, I’ve been so sick, so sad, whenever I’m happy it makes you mad / I hope your ass breaks out in a rash, you remind me of my deadbeat dad, fuck off.”

Whack worked her way through Whack World and offered a few of her loosies like “Meagan Good” and “Only Child”. As if it wasn’t enough for her to grace us with her presence — a seldom occurrence for an artist who certainly plays shows but never seems to tour — she showcased some brand-new material, instilling hope for 2024 back in the world. It was called “Shower Song”, and it sounded like it could have been a collaboration with Thundercat. It wasn’t to be clear, but it was so funky and so effortlessly funny that it would have easily fit into the fold on Thundercat’s 2017 LP Drunk. Tierra, if you are reading this, you goddamn do sound good when you are singing in the shower. Hang in there, folks … new Tierra Whack is imminent, and it is fire — although if you are paying attention, you already knew it would be.

It’s not every day you get to see a musical unicorn — not to mention two in one night — and it’s even more uncommon for an artist of that stature to truly deliver. Whack showed us that she may as well own UPS at this point, and she’s barely just begun. Pairing her with the legendary Grandmaster Flash proves that Whack, thankfully for us, is woven into the threads of hip-hop’s future, and we have a lot to look forward to in the next 50 years. Because if this set was any indication, hip-hop remains in good hands.

Flea Market
Pretty Ugly
Cable Guy
4 Wings
Pet Cemetery
Fuck Off
Silly Sam
Fruit Salad
Sore Loser
Only Child
Shower Song (new song)
Meagan Good
Hungry Hippo

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