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Tierra Whack’s Two New Singles Are Relinquishing Shame From the Expression of Humanity

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Tierra Whack raps on the new single, “Peppers and Onions” – I’m only human, yeah. I’m not perfect, just a person. Sometimes happy, sometimes nervous.”

Whack is an artist who is known and praised for her incredibly imaginative, infectiously energetic, and playful soul that she brings to not only the entire genre of rap but to the world at large. Her first project, “Whack World” granted her the title and image of being regarded as a creative genius – rightfully so, what “Whack World” did and how Whack continues to break down barriers in virtually every way feels something like witnessing magic. 

From her unparalleled taste in sonic selection, lyricism, and flow – Whack is defying and re-defining the ways we speak of and consume art as a whole. Whack’s uncanny ability to turn the ordinary into grand inspiration acts as her secret weapon. She can take an old game like a hungry hippo or a mere bowl of fruit and use it as fuel to craft an instantaneous hit single. 

“Whack World” acted as an invitation into this special, magically orchestrated universe that is fully alive inside Whack’s mind. These two new singles that have been released, “Peppers and Onions” and “Feel Good,” showcase Whack grappling and confronting her own humanity in the face of the public eye. In these two new singles – Whack is welcoming us into this process of her unveiling her own humanity and recognizing that there is no place for shame to take reign. 

Whack is realizing that people now are projecting expectations onto her based on what sides she has revealed to the world through her music – now she finds herself boxed in and stuck in this limbo of idealism. 

She’s seeing how people are expecting her to be this bubble of happiness and perfection – both things that are always in retaliation with each other, serving as villains when it comes to accepting our own underlying humanity.

This fame and idol status that Whack has attained is granting the presence of shame to multiply in millions – making it feel almost nearly impossible for her to openly accept her flaws and the wide range of emotions that come with being human when she is always being held to an unreachable standard. 

But Whack spends “Peppers and Onions” refuting this shame, rejecting this idealism that is being forced onto her. Instead, she is putting her innate humanness – her ability to feel anger, apathy, and grief –  to be the thing that everyone must focus on now as well. 

Photo Credit to uDiscover Music

With “Peppers and Onions,” Whack is also confronting and dismantling the ideology behind black excellence. There is this expectation that is projected onto the black community by a society that black people must always strive to be excellent and perfect – having to constantly chase success in order to prove their worthiness of taking up space, something that is everyone’s divine right to do so simply because of their mere existence. 

She raps, “I don’t wanna be judged, I just wanna be me. Even though we buy chains, we just wanna be free.” Whack is alluding to the presence of flashy, material possessions being worn almost out of necessity – or again feeling as though having these things are a tangible, physical manifestation of worthiness. When these diamonds are worn around the neck for all to see, it acts as a form of symbolism of the safety, acceptance, and wealth that black people are continuously deprived of – and yet so desperately need and deserve. 

If they can attain the very thing that people never wanted to give them or see them ever have -then wearing and proudly displaying these gems are a form of rebellion in itself – proof of their worthiness that was always there but never acknowledged. 

It’s hard to not look a diamond right in the eye, hard to not see it. Whack is saying that if you look underneath it all – there’s an underlying transparency of hunger for freedom and a search for there to be an opportunity to wear their humanity instead. 

The next single that Whack dropped, “Feel Good,” has her embracing her growing melancholia that she finds herself perpetually stuck in – like a ballerina trapped inside the confines of a music box that keeps singing the same, sad tune on a loop. The beat is carried by piano keys pirouetting in unapologetic sorrow and a hauntingly, gloomy music box tune gliding across her voice. 

Photo Credit to Stereogum

Again, this expectation of happiness is being projected onto her and she uses the metaphor of a ballerina to convey this. A ballerina is expected to be poised, proper, graceful, and to do impossible stunts without a shred of fault being found. Whack is also wrestling with the expectation that a person who has achieved a certain level of success must be happy at all times.

If we know nothing else about humanity – we know that happiness like all else that comes with the lived experience is also fleeting. We have also been told over and over again that things like success, love, or money will guarantee a permanence of happiness in our lives. This is simply not true, and Whack doesn’t understand why she must continue to put on this act – especially when it comes to what emotions are allowed to be displayed and prioritized in her art. 

She raps, “Why would I lie and say I feel good, when I don’t feel good? All I really want is to be happy and truly feel good. I got everybody lookin at me like, why don’t she feel good? I done seen the stars, I done seen the lights. But I can’t forget that I’m still hood.”

Stars, lights, money, and fame don’t permeate or act as a shield against something as impenetrable as racism and injustice – if anything it may even act as a target or place another exception onto Whack – one where she is expected to be the spokesperson and to know all the right things to say, all the right steps to take when she too is battling the consequences of them.

In this way, her humanness is allowed to breathe and dance in this track. Her divine right to mourn, to be sad is being expressed and brought forth. Tierra Whack is unapologetically relinquishing the hold shame has on us being able to accept and express our humanness to the world. 


Maddy Ipema
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