It’s been exactly 1700 days since Isaiah Rashad last released a full length studio album. The intervening time has seen the Trump Presidency come to an end, the global protests against racism spurred on by the murder of George Floyd, and a globe changing pandemic. The world is a different place – but it’s the right time for new music from the Southern force.
Renowned for his conceptual approach, Isaiah Rashad’s lyricism – forceful yet at times graceful, poetic while still existing outside boundaries – surprised many on his 2014 debut album ‘Cilvia Demo’. 2016’s phenomenal ‘The Sun’s Tirade’ stands as his masterpiece to date – amplifying the promise of his debut album, it spoke openly of his experiences with depression and isolation. In essence a lockdown record before ‘lockdown’ entered the lexicon, it remains a singular experience.
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Since then, however, the language of hip-hop has broadened. Left-field ideas are able to infiltrate the mainstream much easier in 2011, while Isiah Rashad’s touchstones – substance abuse, mental health, and personal revelation – sit comfortably within the lexicon of, say, SoundCloud rap while remaining doggedly in his own distinct lane.
A few moments ago, Top Dawg Entertainment placed a new message online that sent fans into meltdown. Marking out a day – May 7th – the label warned “THE WAIT IS OVAHHH!” without specifying what, if anything, could be about to drop.
The rumour mill immediately went into overdrive. Some of the label’s big names have been AWOL for some time now – hell, Kendrick’s gap between albums is almost as long as Isaiah Rashad’s, and don’t get us started on SZA…
But for us, a new Isaiah Rasha album would be the cream of the crop. The pandemic has changed how we interact – it’s removed even the promise of interaction from our daily lives. Our relationship with music and creativity has changed, becoming a much more fragmented, and internal experience. In essence, our lives now resonate to the universe created by Isaiah Rashad.
He’s already spoken about his new music. Isaiah Rashad confirmed in 2020 that he’d quite drinking and smoking, in part due to the influence of Top Dawg peers, and that his next project would be his first fully sober record. Indeed, using Twitter back in January he revealed that he was actually mixing the record during the opening weeks of 2021.
im not. im talkin like im mixin it— sun (@isaiahrashad) January 11, 2021
Furthermore, he’s even got a title. In a Live Stream with fans last year Isaiah Rashad revealed that his next record would be ‘The House Is Burning’ before playing a tantalising snippet of new material. It was only a segment of one song, but it was enough to spark almost 12 months of fan debate.
Now, we’re willing to be wrong here. We have been in the past, and we will be in the future. Plus, who would seriously complain about a new Kendrick Lamar LP? Or a SZA project, for that matter.
But for us, Top Dawg’s message could – should – point to a new album from Isaiah Rashad. And if it does, then it will be perfectly timed. A true rap auteur, a talent with a willingness to pursue singular aims and solitary aesthetics no matter the cost, Isaiah Rashad’s artistry speaks fluently about the world we have now found ourselves in. Perhaps he can help us make sense of it all.
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