Tierra Whack Calls Lauryn Hill Her Biggest Rap Influence: “Nobody’s Ever Replaced Her”
Tierra Whack‘s fate in hip-hop was set the moment she entered the world on Aug. 11, 1995 – the same day the culture was born 22 years prior. The North Philadelphia native turned heads thanks to a YouTube freestyle that went viral when she was just 15 years old and known as Dizzle Dizz. The breakout moment was a culmination of Whack’s early years, studying all she could about rap and finding inspiration in iconic albums like Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” and Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP.” Years later, she’d emerge with her own acclaim as one of the most promising lyricists of her generation.
Whack’s 15-minute debut album “Whack World,” released in May 2018, skyrocketed her to superstardom, taking the rap sensation to global stages and new heights in hip-hop. And today, she’s grateful for how it all blessed her career. In Netflix’s “Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop” docuseries, Whack recalls her formative years – plus the exact moment that led to her famous freestyle – and pays homage to the legendary queens of hip-hop who dared her to be different, like Missy Elliott and Lauryn Hill.
A week before her and hip-hop’s birthday, Whack recalled to POPSUGAR how she discovered her love for rap, her biggest influences, and revealed why she’ll always show fellow women rappers love. Read it all, in her own words, below.
My earliest hip-hop memory is discovering KRS-One – I heard “The Bridge Is Over.” I always used to hear the beat and it was so addictive, like you could just play it on and on and on and on. So when I found out the artist behind the song, it felt like that was all the beginning for me. KRS-One is one of the greatest MCs ever to grace the Earth. He can just break it down. He’s a hip-hop legend and that’s where it all started for me.
But as for my biggest rap influence growing up, Lauryn Hill is at the tip-top. Nobody’s ever replaced her to this day. When I heard “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” that album, I’m like, “Yo, this Black woman, this Black girl is doing the impossible.” She made it real for me. I felt like I could do what she did; that I could get there too. She created the path.
“She made it real for me. I felt like I could do what she did.”
When I decided to pursue hip-hop professionally, it was honestly just a feeling. And when I found out we shared the same birthday, I was like, this is going to be my excuse. I dug so deep and was looking up how to be an MC and live in the culture. I just remember being a geek like, “OK, this is what I’m going to do. I really gotta know how everything started and where it all started.” It just feels like it was meant to be.
Without hip-hop, I wouldn’t be able to take care of my family. This is my way of living, so hip-hop is my everything. I need it. It’s my life, the culture I live.
When I heard Netflix was making a docuseries all about women in hip-hop, I’m like, finally! I just feel like now was the perfect time. We have so many women right now killing it. Everybody’s doing their own thing in their own lane, and we’re still all able to get along. It’s been so many opportunities coming and it’s amazing to see, because when I first started, it wasn’t many of us women out at the same time. I always would say I wish it could be like back in the ’90s. We gotta get back to that.
I always make sure I show all the females, and of course the guys too, I show everybody love and respect, because we look better when we’re together, you know? It’s a better image to push. So kids who are coming up, we gotta really set the tone for how everything is supposed to be ran. I’m just really happy anytime I go out to an event and I see more than one female rapper or female artist. It’s like, I’m not the only one anymore. It’s some people in this world who like being the only one, but I want to see everybody together. The support just looks amazing.
In my perfect world, hip-hop in the future would be this times 1,000. Like how it’s looking right now, let’s just keep going. Let’s keep pushing and supporting each other, together.
– As told to Njera Perkins