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

As his career continues to soar, Grammy winner Thundercat emits hypnotic joy in his hometown for a sold-out crowd at The Broad

ThundercatBy Rochelle Shipman //

Thundercat with Ginger Root //
The Broad – Los Angeles
July 21st, 2022 //

“Is this real?” I remember muttering out loud, squinting at the words “Thundercat plays The Broad.” Not a music venue but instead, a fancy art museum in downtown LA that’s so LA it might as well be located in Los Feliz and it may or may not be pronounced “The Brode.”

Of course it was real. This is LA. So despite my best attempts to spend last Thursday on my couch in solitude, I found myself going to a show on an otherwise-perfect couch night, standing on a grass plot amid a concrete jungle. It wasn’t a big space, with the stage tucked behind a thin line of bicycle racks and high-rise apartments towering over us on both sides of the designated performance area. But as part of its “Summer Happenings” series, the museum remained open to all attendees, offering a brief reprieve from the sold-out crowd and a prime opportunity to check out the exhibits without having to schedule another visit. I wasn’t expecting Thundercat to lead me to my first-ever Basquiats IRL, but what can I say? The man contains multitudes.

Psych-soul-pop trio Ginger Root took the stage before Thundercat, and the Huntington Beach natives had the crowd cheering before they struck their first note. Band leader and singer-songwriter Cameron Lew looked like he was born to be up there, directing touring members Matt Carney (drums) and Dylan Hovis (bass) as well as the audience with minimal effort while crooning into a bright red, upside down telephone. They were a perfect pairing with the main attraction on an ideal summer night, their bubbly tunes impeccably catchy and impossibly funky.

After that, the man himself — the coolest man I’ve ever seen — took the stage. A man who is truly more cat than human. No literally — peep the paw prints on his palms. Born Stephen Lee Bruner in his native LA, he even moves with the energy of a feline: swift and sleek, totally in control and always on his own terms. His fingers flew across the bass strings as quickly and naturally as he cracked the next joke in his songs. A handful of times throughout the night, his concentrated demeanor melted away and he blessed us with his brilliant child-like smile.

It’s really hard not to smile yourself when you’re at a Thundercat concert. It’s almost like his long fingers emit this hypnotic joy, electrifying his fans and spreading pure glee. Even when he isn’t grinning, the 37-year-old musician and actor has this air of amazement, as if he can’t believe how talented he is either.

After welcoming us a few songs into his set, he paused and said, “I’m in Star Wars.” Everyone cheered and he beamed, proudly repeating, “I’m in Star Wars. I can’t believe I get to say that. I’m in Star Wars.” The well-deserved applause intensified, and Thundercat smiled while closing his eyes, soaking in the tender moment.


Over the next hour or so, the lawn and the stage were enveloped in a mutual bliss, everyone forgetting they were smack in the middle of DTLA; Thundercat center stage showing us exactly why it’s OK — in fact, better — to just breathe in and go with the flow. The result will inevitably be beautiful, and if you’re lucky (or Thundercat), a straight jam. His bedazzled Gucci hair barrettes sparkled in the spotlight as he shredded, a constant glinting reminder that Thundercat is a star.

For a man who isn’t afraid to say what all of us are thinking (for example, “If you’re not bringing tacos, I suggest you turn and walk away” and “I may be covered in cat hair, but I still smell good”), Bruner was surprisingly demure onstage. He wasn’t exactly quiet, but when he did talk, he was intentional and he didn’t mince words. He spoke about how many friends he has lost lately, noting how the entire crowd has lost so many loved ones over the last two years, before dedicating a song to comedian Jak Knight.

“We just lost Michael Henderson, too. Do you know him?” Silence. “I assumed as much … He played with Miles Davis.”

Not so fast — he backtracked, noting that Michael Henderson also did way more than play with Miles Davis. As if that wasn’t enough. His tone was solid but somber.

“It is what it is,” he stated with a wistful, yet peaceful acceptance while directly referencing his Grammy-winning album It Is What It Is that dropped in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the commonly used phrase isn’t just the title of Thundercat’s latest masterpiece. It’s also a lesson we could all benefit to keep in mind as we watch society disintegrate and our planet melt through the gaps in between our fingers. There’s only so much chaos and heartache we can stomach before we have to accept it for what it is. Not to roll over by any means but instead find acceptance and balance throughout life. Because why go down in a panic when we could enjoy the ride?