Tierra Whack’s style is switching styles. 2018’s breakthrough audio/visual project “Whack World” was a 15 minute collage of 15, one-minute songs, where she weaves hooks and flows so diverse it often feels like she drops into a track as her own featured guest. On “Only Child”, her first release in a post-Whack, grammy-nominated world of greater attention, she sings so smoothly you forget she’s a worldclass freestyler. Just as you’re getting familiar with her egoist ex that couldn’t pull his shit together, the song crescendos with a straight-up rap verse as rewarding as anything this year.
Whack’s versatility has drawn apt comparisons to R&B crossover stars like Frank Ocean, and like Ocean, Whack knows how to mix emotion with imaginatively silly rap tropes (the line “money over dick! Money over dick!” doesn’t even sound jarring). Any crude lines she throws our way sound better over the beat, which is like a Wurlitzer spooning with a Telecaster under a blanket of phase.
Like all great breakup songs, “Only Child” is a mix of anger (“spiteful and malicious, hope that other chick got syphilis”) and humour ( “used to arch my back for you and now I’m your arch-nemesis”) and ultimately, there’s freedom in knowing the failure wasn’t her fault. As a metaphor it’s effectively simple, if not a little unfair–surely not every “only child” is so self-centered, but what else rhymes with “buck wild”?