It may have been pouring rain at the 23rd annual Webby Awards on Monday (May 13), but for Tierra Whack, the day couldn’t have been brighter.
The 23-year-old hip-hop artist was crowned artist of the year at this year’s ceremony, a night that recognizes the best of the web. Dressed in a sunset orange full-length coat, Whack spoke to Billboard about how the internet has propelled her career.
“Yo, it’s helped me so much,” Whack tells Billboard. “I’ve connected with so many people that I’ve never imagined that I would ever know personally. I’m team internet, for sure.”
The internet — specifically social media — has been crucial to the rapper’s relatively recent rise to stardom. On May 30 of last year, the Philadelphia-born singer released her debut album Whack World, a 15-minute, 15-song audiovisual project that paired each track with an artistically crafted music video on Instagram.
Less than one year later, the Webby Awards honored Whack for her genre-bending work, awarding her one of the show’s eight special achievement accolades for her “use of digital technology to blaze artistic trails” and “ingenious use of the Internet.”
Claire Graves, executive director of the Webby Awards, also calls Whack World “brilliant” and says it is “made for Instagram.” “It’s so visually beautiful,” Graves tells Billboard. “It’s funny in the right places, it’s meaningful in the right places. It’s what the internet is right now.”
Since dropping the critically acclaimed album, Whack has continued to make waves, landing a Grammy nomination, a gig at Coachella and collaborations with the likes of Meek Miller and Childish Gambino — and she’s not showing any sign of slowing down.
When asked about the inspiration behind her music and visual work, Whack said it comes down to simply allowing herself to be seen.
“It’s important for everyone to just be able to express themselves in whatever way,” she says. “I chose art, music, of course fashion, clothes, colors. I’m just expressing what I have inside and bringing it out.”