Skip to main content
Publish date:

Breakdown: Tierra Whack’s Rhyme Scheme on “Unemployed”

What stands out the most about Tierra’s rhyme scheme is how she positions her rhymes.
Breakdown: Tierra Whack's Rhyme Scheme on "Unemployed"

Women are underrepresented in the music industry, and it’s been this way for centuries. According to a study published in March by the University of Southern California, “17% of artists in 2018 were women.” If that statistic alone isn’t staggering, Hip Hop By The Numbers recently tabulated that only six of a possible 324 Top 10 hip-hop albums on the Billboard 200 since 2010 came from women—or, 1.9%.

Earlier this month, after an out of touch producer and record executive cast aspersions on every female emcee, women in hip-hop became a trending topic on social media. To help dispel any confused sentiments about the talent and ability of the genre’s most impressive female practitioners in 2019, I've decided to focus my attention on Tierra Whack, a 2019 XXL Freshman and Interscope Records signee.

Known for flexing during Instagram freestyles, Tierra’s technicality is undeniable on the latter verse of her most recent single, “Unemployed.” 

This skillset is evident in the following breakdown:




5 New Albums You Need to Hear This Week

Press play on new releases from EST Gee, Chucky73, Tierra Whack, Masicka, and Mike Akox.


DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace & Joony: Best of the Week

DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace, and Joony, among others, have the best new songs on Audiomack this week.


10 Rappers You Should Know Right Now

Luh Soldier, Snowsa, SGaWD, and K.Charles are four of the 10 new rappers you need to know right now on Audiomack.

Some takeaways from Tierra’s "Unemployed" verse above:

  • The verse is 16 bars long and contains 224 words
  • 140 of those 224 words are unique, or 63%
  • 98 of those 224 words contain significant rhymes, or 43.75%
  • With 128 significant rhymes, Tierra averages eight rhymes per bar

What stands out the most about Tierra’s rhyme scheme is how she positions her rhymes. Each bar/line of music can be measured in four-beats. For example, a two denotes a half-bar and a four marks the end of a line. To highlight the structure of the latter half of her verse, I've noted each beat in the example below in red superscript:


In the above excerpt, we see there are 20 combinations of the oʊ (e.g., oh) and ə sounds (e.g., er). Tierra delivers the oʊ-ə multi on every offbeat, which is the second and fourth beat in a bar of four-four time, except for the second half-bar of each quatrain sequence—Tierra opts to omit this multi in both instances for the sake of her flow.

From a listener's perspective, Tierra’s verse is satisfying because of its structuredness. Beginning at infancy, we are familiarised with musical concepts, including rhyming—which I explored in a previous breakdown. During this time, we develop an ability to hear a musical beat and recognize patterns, or rhythms. So, by delivering multis on each offbeat, rather than interspersing internal rhymes or merely focusing on end rhymes, Tierra can establish a more condensed and predictable rhythm for the listener to track and enjoy.

Very cool.


Chance The Rapper, 2018

Breakdown: Chance The Rapper's Rhyme Scheme on “Paranoia”

Here’s hoping Chance’s self-professed “literary knack” is as omnipresent as ever on his upcoming "debut."

Logic, YBN Cordae, "Mama / Show Love" Lyric Breakdown, 2019, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Breakdown: YBN Cordae's Rhyme Scheme on Logic's "Mama / Show Love"

As listeners, we appreciate being able to anticipate and/or follow along with the rhythm pattern of an artist.

Andre 3000 2019 Illustration

Breakdown: André 3000's Rhyme Scheme on “Come Home”

Anyone can make an appeal to someone they love, but there is only one André 3000.

Breakdown: YBN Cordae & Anderson .Paak on “RNP”

Breakdown: YBN Cordae & Anderson .Paak’s Rhyme Scheme on “RNP”

Like a Super Saiyan fusion or cereal and milk, separately they’re great but combined they are truly something special.

Lupe Fiasco "Dumb It Down" Rhyme Scheme Break Down

Breakdown: Lupe Fiasco’s Rhyme Scheme on “Dumb It Down”

Scholars and nerds, aren’t you glad Lupe didn’t dumb it down?