by Brooklyn White
Tierra Whack’s 2018 debut album, Whack World, was a Dr. Seuss-like doozy. It’s been celebrated for its minute-long songs, reminiscent of HitClips, but also for offering the deep dives and productional experimentation present in 50-minute projects. Whack discussed high fashion (“Hungry Hippo”), healthy eats (“Fruit Salad”), cappers (“Dr. Seuss”), and more, but what helped grasp the collar of the general public were the nearly surreal music videos. The Whack World videos (meant to be viewed consecutively, but perfectly trimmed 15 times to fit the 60 second limitation of Instagram videos) are weird. But not the “oh no, my ex is behind me in line at the gas station, is my card gonna decline?” cringey weird. It’s the perfect kind of individualism that inspires people to fully explore themselves.
In her short film, the Grammy nominated artist sported a prosthetic swollen, drooping face and revealed a Guess Who? board that exclusively featured her mug, and fans, new and old, ate it up. People have long complained that music videos have lost their creativity in the last 15 years, but Tierra’s kaleidoscopic view into her mental and emotional states circumvented any such accusations. The album was reflective of her overall self and overlapping brand, her gif-like promotional clip for “Unemployed” is a visaged potato jumping on a couch (an out of the box, “couch potato” reference”) and her music email reads “GRANDMA STILL HAS SEX”.
Of course, Whack has been compared to Missy Elliott, the mother of all things masterfully unconventional. Elliott’s lyrics are often onomatopoeic, telling, and funny, with an energetic delivery to boost. Her sophomore LP, Da Real World, turns 20 in June, and its best video, “She’s A Bitch” is out of the ordinary and without mar. Partially monochromatic and directed by Hype Williams, in one shot, the multi-million dollar music video presents a jet black, bald Misdemeanor, emerging from the subaquatic abyss with a number of skilled dancers. This is two years after making herself larger than life with the help of a trash bag, and also letting people know that slim women aren’t the only barbies. These messages are radical, especially for their time, assisted by the creative ways in which they were conveyed.
Maryland’s Rico Nasty is on her own wavelength as well, having rocked spiked hair with wispy baby hairs (“You don't have the balls to walk outside looking like this”, she’s said), or swirly, sharp, seashell colored nails. Her Zack Fox-directed video for the loose single “Sandy” is an amalgamation of zany images, including stairs covered in neatly places slices of bread and a foot dipped in spaghetti. Her face isn’t included in the mashup, but her personal eccentricity is alive in other videos like “Guap (LaLaLa)”. Nasty’s guttural verses are unlike any other right now, and are possibly only comparable to DMX’s own coarse approach. But her willingness to fully embrace punk influences and create her own stylistic trends ultimately separate her from the Ruffest Ryder. Rico is her own woman, standing in a winding, animated lane.
These are certainly not the only women in rap to disregard public desires and instead forge their own path. Doja Cat, the anthropomorphic bovine, went viral in 2018, and who can forget Nicki Minaj’s camp era (complete with sky scraping wigs and a surgical mask)? The conscientious weirdness jolts people, usually because deep down, they are afraid to show off their own healthy peculiarities. They play it safe, deep within the shell of their own ego, held captive to others’ opinions. If only these people knew that their freedom and joy, and maybe someone else’s, lays right outside of that shell. Always remember that weirdness is courage, and courage is the core of life.