Isaiah Rashad is one of the rare artists who can straddle the line between introspective rap and mainstream rap. His voice can sink into a deep jazz sample, but he can also hold his own on top of an 808-laden beat. For proof, here is how he describes the process of making his first project, Cilvia Demo. “First it was going to be one-and-a-half minute verses… then it was going to be alternative, black-power shit… then it was going to be some eclectic alien shit… then it was going to be some Southern-banging shit… now, it’s kind of all of it except for the banging shit.”
Rashad has humble beginnings despite being signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, a record label whose roster boasts artists like Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and SZA. Ironically, he first considered being a preacher before being introduced OutKast in junior high by his stepbrother. After Rashad heard ATLiens, he began to focus on rapping. He started his career in high school recording with friends on laptops until eventually graduating to college dorm room closets. Unlike other upcoming acts, the music he made then didn’t really catch on in the internet sphere. Instead, it fell into the hands of different key record labels where they passed it around amongst themselves. One day the recordings made it inside one of the Top Dawg Entertainment offices, and despite the fact that he was an unproven 21-year-old who had yet to release a project, TDE decided to sign him on faith.
I had Cilvia Demo on repeat for an absurd amount of time, as well as his second project, The Sun’s Tirade. It’s so easy to groove to the vibes, that I find myself subconsciously nodding my head whenever any of the songs start. The sometimes abstract lyrics become clearer and deeper over time. The unusual flows seem to perfectly complement any given beat. You can listen for yourself if you don’t believe me to his song which has garnered the most attention, “I Shot You Down”. I’ve had multiple discussions with friends on whose verse is the best on the remix, where we always inevitably end up settling on Rashad.