AILSA CHANG, HOST:

This June, to celebrate Black Music Month, NPR headquarters has seen some of the most talented Black women in music stop by the Tiny Desk – legends like Chaka Khan, jazz stars like Lakecia Benjamin and…

ASHLEY POINTER, BYLINE: Oh, my goodness, Tierra Whack.

CHANG: That’s Ashley Pointer from NPR Music, one of the producers who brought Philadelphia rapper and singer Tierra Whack to the Tiny Desk.

POINTER: I was actually sitting at my desk, sending some emails, when she walked in. And she walked right past my desk. She was like, wait, so y’all really be working here?

CHANG: Tierra Whack proceeded to do some work of her own, playing nine songs in 20 minutes. Ashley Pointer has more on the performance and how it kind of turned into a wild classroom in the best way possible.

TIERRA WHACK: (Singing) I ain’t trying to rush things, but it’s been a while now. People have names. Yeah. And they all smile now.

POINTER: She’s dressed like a giant piece of loose-leaf paper. She’s tossing paper airplanes into the audience, and she has this giant No. 2 pencil that she’s actually writing with at the desk. So it really gives just, like, playful primary-school shenanigans.

WHACK: (Singing) Ooh. Don’t you realize I’m the one? Ooh. Don’t you realize I’m the one? Ooh.

POINTER: Many regard Tierra Whack as a rapper. However, she does have amazing vocals, and she showcased those vocals throughout the entirety of her Tiny Desk set. And she disclosed to us during the Tiny Desk that this was actually her first time performing with a live band, which completely blew my mind because they were so locked in as if they had been playing together for years.

WHACK: (Singing) I’ve been trying new things. Mama says she tired of my mood swings. Before I leave the house, I grab a few things, check the scoreboard – ho, you’re losing.

POINTER: So she just put out her follow-up to 2018’s “Whack World” – 2024’s “World Wide Whack” – in March, and, you know, she shows us a lot more of her interpersonal life. You know, on this album, we hear her talk a lot about her mental health and the things that she’s going through. And I think we’re going to see more of that. I think we’re going to see her just opening up more about the things that she’s going through.

WHACK: (Singing) I cannot trust the soul – so I stay lonely. That’s just the way it goes – oh, yeah, you know me. Sometimes your friends are foes – and some familiar. Ask God, and he’ll expose…

POINTER: So one of the last songs she does is called “Moovies.” And everyone’s kind of, like, distracting us with these paper airplanes and these paper balls. And all of a sudden, this huge mascot – the Phillies’ Phanatic – he kind of just mosies right on in and just, like – surprise, here I am.

WHACK: Ladies and gentlemen, make some noise for the Phillie Phanatic.

(APPLAUSE)

POINTER: I mean, who else brings the Phillies mascot to perform with them?

WHACK: (Singing) You never take me to the movies. Take me to eat. I’m a foodie, boy.

POINTER: So Tierra Whack’s Tiny Desk is a part of our Black Music Month lineup – nine Tiny Desks from nine different women who are doing something just incredible in music. And Tierra Whack just fits beautifully within this lineup because she’s truly accomplished so much within her career over the past five, six years and has brought just such an invigorating presence in hip-hop and R&B that’s uniquely hers.

CHANG: That was NPR Music producer Ashley Pointer. And you can catch Tierra Whack’s entire Tiny Desk concert and all of the Black Music Month performances at npr.org.

WHACK: (Rapping) Let’s make memories we’ll never forget. I need love. It ain’t hard as you think. I want the popcorn with the big, old drink. I need love. Let’s catch the premiere. Tickets on sale… Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.





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