Megan Thee Stallion, Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty — Interpreting their music through painting

Megan Thee Stallion, Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty — Interpreting their music through painting

In what was and still is a
male-dominated genre, it is very important to not lose sight on women’s influence
of participation in rap. The year 2019 especially has seen women dominate the
genre. After a period where Nicki Minaj was the main and sole of face women in rap
for nearly a decade, the genre has seen a Women’s Renaissance of sorts in recent
times as new artists have found their lane in the scene. With Cardi B’s arrival,
it seems whatever invisible gate that kept artists other than Nicki Minaj
from shining had opened. Now we have several anthems such as Bodak Yellow, Act Up, Twerk, Big Ol’ Freak, My Type, and more as well as the likes of artists such as City Girls, Kash Doll, Saweetie Noname, Rapsody, Cupcakke, Lizzo, and Doja Cat just to name a few. So in this video, I wanted to highlight three female artists
who are killing the game right now that were featured in this year’s XXL Freshman list. I want to give a bit of background on them then paint them based on their themes and styles within their music. And
that is Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty, and Megan Thee Stallion. Listening to Tierra Whack’s music feels like frolicking through a field of flowers in a part-Dr. Seuss musical, part-critically acclaimed teenage indie film. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tierra Whack has been on the rise to stardom. She’s been referred to by many as the
Missy Elliott of this generation and for a good reason.
Tierra Whack has created an image of herself that is visually distinct and warmly abstract. This was first evident to me when I discovered her about 3 years back with her song “Child Please” on her Soundcloud, where her zany lyrics were so new and unique in a period of repetitive flows and predictable lyrics
from other artists. Visually, this was evident from her video “MUMBO JUMBO,” which
earned a Grammy nomination. For me, what’s most distinct about her sound is her usage of her voice. Depending on the track, her voice can be very cartoonish, or intriguingly monotone (in a good way). For
example, in “F*ck Off” she puts on a playful cowgirl accent. While on “Bug’s Life,” she delves into a more somber tone and introspective verse thinking about what could’ve been of her success it she was born different. So she has some serious tracks like Bug’s Life and 4 Wings. In contrast, Pet Cemetery is a joyful, whimsical track which at first appears to be a lighthearted song about her dog, but
rather it’s an extended metaphor about one of her friends who passed away. She even
dives in to slow, crooning R&B tracks like Dr. Seuss and Waze from time to
time. Her instrumentals are very spacey and vibey, sometimes bouncy and eccentric. Producers Kenete Simms and Verruto are responsible for producing this eerie and peculiar sonic palette that further bring out Tierra’s unique character and personality on wax. Also adding to her interesting character is how she delivers hooks and punchlines. Her punchlines are very tongue-in-cheek using references or wordplay that are fairly relatable. Whack
World is almost like an exhibit installation: a display of the many
different flows, styles, and melodies she’s capable of making. So that’s what I tried
to capture in this illustration. I aimed for a slightly impressionist, Picasso-esque art-style mixed with a contemporary bright color palette. Because that’s how her music sounds to me, if I were to convert her musical style into a visual translation. I used some of her iconic outfits as references and sort of combined them all. I loved this sort of topknot high bun hairstyle, the multi-glasses look, with some earring inspired by the eyes she wore on another
outfit. And then she had this bright yellow, fluffy coat that I thought would
make the rest pop. So as I colored it in, I tried to contrast it with the
turquoise background. I gave her some face paint to make it look a bit more
abstract and patterned the background with traditional Adinkra and African
symbols as she’s from Philadelphia, which is a cultural Mecca that is
intrinsic to the history of the Diaspora built on the backs of the ancestors who
made the birth of the U.S. possible. And there you go, that’s Tierra Whack. When you listen to Rico Nasty, you can’t
help but make this face. Rico Nasty is an artist who was born in New
York City but grew up in Prince George’s County Maryland. She sometimes goes by
the nickname Tacobella. I first discovered her with the song iCarly
at a time after Lil Yachty had gone viral and from this track alone she came
across as simply a female interpretation of that bubbly pop-rap sound. However once I heard her song “Poppin” I
saw that her style had a unique edge to it that made her stand out amongst her contemporaries. I would
describe her sound as punk rock meets trap. I think where she really shines is
when she raps over guitar riff instrumentals or bassy stereo-crashing
beats. I would say she’s not that much of a lyricist
because at the core she is a trap artist going over 808s-heavy beats with sometimes autotuned melodic songs. But, she stands out from the crowd in
many ways because a lot of her appeal and talent accrue from her ability to
manifest the feeling of dominant feminine energy through her music. Her
delivery is fierce and unrelenting like she’s really trying to scrap with
whoever tries to cross her, you know. Her most hype songs feel like getting
punched in the face…but liking it! It’s a literal sonic manifestation of a
moshpit. Her collab project “Anger Management: with Kenny Beats
especially is filled with songs that capture that adrenaline-fueled energy
with loud tracks with loud vocals and creative samples. So for her drawing I
went for a brightly colored line art based on the style of Jet Set Radio. If
you don’t know, Jet Set Radio was a video game series revolving around a
gang of counterculture inline skaters who spray the city of Tokyo in graffiti
as an act of protest. The game was known for its memorable art style and
soundtrack, both of which were based on funk and hip-hop themes modeled after
New York and Japanese culture. I thought that really illustrated the sound of her
music. As I did with Tierra Whack, I based Rico’s outfit on a couple of her looks-one where she has braids and another where she had a camo outfit on. To be honest, my drawing here is a lot more tame than her normal outfits but I really wanted to capture the art style as my main focus. The blue shadowing really made the colors stand out and the orange was a nice contrast to the blue and green. And there you go, that’s Rico Nasty. Megan Thee Stallion, also known as the leader of the Hot Girl Army, gained a huge following in a record amount of time. She’s an artist hailing from Houston, Texas and I first discovered her when
the video of her in a Houston Cypher went viral, where she was the clear standout in the rap session Her flow was so seamless and her commanding performance stole the show as many fell
in love with her instantly and now she’s taken over the entire summer of 2019,
coining the term “Hot Girl Summer” that’s been used everywhere. It’s a cultural phenomenon spawning memes, brand endorsements, and remixes. Who she is and what she embodies allows her fans to relate to her and this enabled her to
become one of the forefront rappers encouraging women to really express
their sexuality. From one of her more popular songs ‘Big Ole Freak’ she raps: Lyrics like that are a great example of
how women can take the reins of a relationship and be in control. Other lyrics like: from her song “Cash Sh*t” is another great example of
how women can feel empowered and enjoy their hot girl summer. Megan is very open and
unashamed in her lyrics and she displays this with a direct-and-to-the-point
delivery. Honestly, her content is not much different than what men have been
rapping about for decades, only it’s coming from a woman’s perspective and
that’s why she has so much support behind her
because she has bars with a personality and twerks to back it up! (No pun intended) For her illustration, I was
straightforward with her painting. Megan Thee Stallion is upfront about
everything she represents—from her bars to her outward sexuality. I based her looks
straight off the reference you see here of her riding on the chopper. I wanted to
give her more of a biker hot girl look and going for crimson hair was
inspired by her common red hair look especially as she’s based it off of Todoroki from the anime Boko no Hero Academia. My technique here different: I start with basic shapes, add details to that body part, then branch out to the next part of the body to rinse and repeat. I used a textured brush to give that epic
painting feel, almost reminiscent of a 70s movie poster. And because she’s THEE stallion… Well… I put her on a stallion. and that’s Megan Thee Stallion. Women in rap are killing it right now. They’ve taken over 2019. The floodgates are open. New female artists are entering scene with each passing day. I’m excited to see what’s in store next as the gender imbalance in hip-hop closes more and more.

11 thoughts on “Megan Thee Stallion, Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty — Interpreting their music through painting

  1. I enjoyed the video my only problem was that you didn't make Rico dark enough, but other than that it was good i was wondering if you could paint Care For Me by Saba?

  2. Big fan of Noname. Her last album 'Telefone' is a favorite of mine. Really captured the summer vibe for me in 2016. Keep up the good work bro!

    EDIT: Check out Sampa the Great if you haven't already. I like the production on her music.

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