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Tierra Whack Talks Creative Process, Netflix Recommendations And Checkers’ Fries

Tierra Whack

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

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Tierra Whack Talks Creative Process, Netflix Recommendations And Checkers’ Fries

Hot off her first GRAMMY nomination and the release of the boldly innovative 'Whack World,' the Philly-based artist dishes on her music and life

GRAMMYs/Feb 27, 2019 - 06:17 am

If you were to ask a bored music fan to describe exactly what kind of artist they’d like to see emerge to shake up the status quo, chances are high that Tierra Whack would be nearly made-to-order. She sings, she raps, she jokes incessantly, she laments the loss of a friend and a pet, she sings an expletive-laden country tune. The 23-year-old Philadelphian had released less than 40 minutes of music under her own name when she was nominated for her first GRAMMY (for Best Music Video) last year. And perhaps it’s just as well that she sidestepped the genre categories in her first GRAMMY go-round. In fact, the nominated video was for “Mumbo Jumbo,” an infectious melody sung in pure mushmouth with no actual words. Imagine Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter” recast as Soundcloud-era R&B — well, you can’t really, can you?

She followed it up with Whack World, a 15-minute audiovisual tour de force that gives Lemonade look standard-issue. Comprising 15 one-minute songs by a virtually unknown artist (with a bright and colorful video for each one that splits the difference between Hype Williams and Dr. Seuss), the unprecedented project topped Noisey’s best-of-2018 list and made both Pitchfork’s and Robert Christgau’s top tens. Most other publications found room for the one-of-a-kind release somewhere on their year-end as well. It’s safe to say that there’s no obvious predecessor to Ms. Whack in any genre, and she’s just getting started. We spoke to her via phone about her instantaneous success and her first experience attending the GRAMMY Awards ceremony.

Congratulations on your nomination! “Mumbo Jumbo” was the first video you’ve ever made, right?

Thank you so much. Put out to the public, yeah.

That’s amazing to be recognized right off the bat —

For the very first one, right? Yeah!

And then you unleashed Whack World, which is like almost nothing that came before it. Do you consider it to be an “album?”

Nah. Uhh… I don’t really like to give it a title. Just a collection of songs? A bunch of different ideas that I just put all into one pot.

What was the biggest challenge for you in putting it together?

It wasn’t really a challenge, actually! It was just fun, because I have so many different sounds and flows.

Is it harder to write one-minute songs or three-minute ones?

One-minute songs are easy as hell!

It wasn’t a pain to get everything down to that exact 60 seconds?

No, not at all. I just got used to the time, I would get a feeling almost, like, ‘it’s about to be over, time to wrap it up.’

Did everything make it on there or do you have a lot of one-minute outtakes lying around?

I have a bunch here, it was about a total of 60 songs.

You didn’t want to go for a full hour of very short tracks?

An hour’s just…too much for the first thing that people are gonna know me for.

Were there also videos you shot that you didn’t use?

Not for Whack World, no. I knew I had the 15 songs, so I shot 15 videos.

So the visuals were entirely figured out after the music was done? Or did you write any of the songs with the video in mind?

I can never finish a song without having a visual in mind. That’s the way I finish anything almost, I have to see it in my head. I’m a visual person. Because you’re creating a story, you have to bring it all together.

I was curious because you just dropped the song “Only Child,” and it’s your first big release with no visual attached. Was it important for you to make sure people focus on the words and music this time?

Yeah, definitely. Let me see if I could just grab their ears.

Was it weird to figure out how to do Whack World live?

It doesn’t even feel… it’s funny because my DJ Zach [Whack, or just Zach! when he performs solo] mentioned that, but it’s never weird. Sometimes we would do the songs twice.

Was there a conscious attempt to show off as many different sides of you as you could? “F* Off” is one of my favorites and I’ve been curious about your relationship to country music.

I just surprise myself every day. Each day I record I’m always doing something different that I’ve never done. So I feel like I’m a new artist every time I go to the studio. And I have so much to offer so why make it all one thing? But I definitely hold Dolly Parton down. A lot has been going on for me and I’m always doing interviews, press, and everything, so stuff might not hit me at the moment but later, I remember it. I hear something and then it might stick at a random time.

Do you put your ideas down into an app?

Yeah, I’ll use Notes or my Voice Memo app a lot, or I’ll just text or call my manager like what do you think about my crazy idea. He’ll remember anything I bring up, even if it’s like a year from now.

What was the last idea you put down in your Notes app?

Ummm… [checking] Do I wanna give that up? Let me see… oh right, somebody already did it before, but growing up, one of my favorite movies was Bubble Boy, and I’ve always wanted to perform in a bubble.

Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips performs in a bubble. And I think he just got married in one, too!

That’s fire! That’s so fire.

So you’ll have to top that.

Yeah, it’s not like, original, but it’s something I just want to do and put my own twist on it.

For all the colorful visuals and playful language on Whack World, you display some real sadness on “Four Wings” and “Pet Cemetery.”

There’s sadness on almost every song.

Was that a conscious thing you wanted to contrast with all the bright and perky videos?

That’s just who I am, that’s how I am. I may seem all happy and la-la-la but I’ve been through some real s*, you know? I’m half and half. But I think everybody is that way.

You sing in many different voices on Whack World. Are there any you’d like to bring back and do more with?

There’s no telling.

What about remixing a one-minute song into a two-minute song?

Nah, I don’t like that at all. Why are we making a Men in Black 8? Why are we making Final Destination 30? It’s classic, leave it alone. I don’t want to see another Chucky. Some things you just have to leave it there. Let it be.

So there won’t be a Whack World II then?

Not that I know of.

You’ve gotten to spend quality time with André 3000, Lauryn Hill, Meek Mill… whose reaction to Whack World was your favorite?

I’ve never thought about that! It’s funny because these celebrities, we don’t actually talk about music, we just talk about regular, personal real-life stuff. When you just put those names up, I’m like ‘Wow, I can’t think of anything musical we talked about.’ But it’s like, if it’s something you do, like…my friend works at Checkers but she hates Checkers’ food. She’s been working there for like two years and she’s like, I hate it.

They have really good fries, though.

Exactly! I argue with her all the time, like, “Please bring me fries!” She’s like, “No, I hate it!”

And if you ask nicely, they’ll mix the banana shake with the chocolate shake.

That’s crazy, that sounds really good.

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So what was it like for you to attend the GRAMMYs for the first time?

It was really, really, really chill. I was eating pizza outside because they wouldn’t let me bring it in. It just felt like I went to a graduation or something.

How did you choose that colorful outfit that you wore to the event?

I went to a store in Philly and I saw the coat, I thought it was so fire. So I bought it, found the designer [Nancy Beringer], she’s from Philly and I thought that was cool, she DM’d me and we were talking and I said I was gonna wear that coat to the GRAMMYs so she said, “Oh, I’ll make you a dress to go with it!”

And where are you off to now?

Right now, I’m about to get up, go eat some Cheerios and probably listen to some beats or something. I was watching TV, this new show The Umbrella Academy is so good.

I just finished Russian Doll so maybe I’ll start that.

Wait, Russian Doll is good? I’ve seen the trailer but I was like… I’m not sure. I just got done The Umbrella Academy like an hour ago, but I hate when something is good and it only has one season. You get so addicted; I’m gonna store that in my files and wait ‘til the second season.

Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: H.E.R. On Being Born Into Music & Why R&B Is "At The Core Of Everything"

Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

Seattle's Museum Of Pop Culture To Host Pearl Jam Exhibit

Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

Rosalía 

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:25 am

Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.

 

RELATED: How Rosalia Is Reinventing What It Means To Be A Global Pop Star

"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.

Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork. 

Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist. 

Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.

2019 Music Festival Preview: Noise Pop, Coachella, Ultra & More

Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Taylor Swift

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images

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Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium

GRAMMYs/Sep 18, 2019 - 02:38 am

Taylor Swift  will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.

The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1

"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!" 

Lover was released Aug. 23 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Her sold-out tour for her previous album, 2017's Reputation, was the highest grossing U.S. tour ever, breaking her own record.

Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17.