Friday, January 31, 2014
Isaiah Rashad- Cilvia
With Kendrick Lamar blowing up and gaining even more steam recently because of his snubs at the Grammys and with Schoolboy Q set to drop his highly anticipated and often delayed debut album, Oxymoron, the crew with the most to prove looks to be Top Dawg Entertainment. In 2013, the TDE crew expanded to include Isaiah Rashad and SZA joining Kendrick, Schoolboy, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul to the most potent label in hip-hop right now. For all the lovers of radio rap, TDE is better than Young Money and MMG (although Fat Trel is going to make some noise). J Cole has his start up team that is looking to make some noise (but won't). For all the underground lovers, TDE is better than Slaughterhouse, Funk Volume, Pro Era, ASAP Rocky and friends, and Odd Future. There should be no debate. TDE is reigning supreme. So after that brief jocking, let me get into what I'm trying to say. TDE is set up for a huge year because they announced all six members will release new projects this year and that Isaiah Rashad is going to lead them off. I knew absolutely nothing about the dude from Tennessee before his signing but obviously him signing to such a label meant he must have had talent. I tried not to check his stuff out before his debut EP (which at 14 tracks should have just been an album) but I ended up catching Shot You Down and the BET cypher. He didn't wow me but I still had faith since Rashad was signed to TDE after all and they wouldn't just sign a scrub. So I present, the review of Isaiah Rashad's debut EP, Cilvia Demo...
After listening to this project several times, the one thing that came to my mind was that this was a very good debut for Isaiah Rashad. He didn't drop an Illmatic or a Get Rich or Die Tryin as his debut but Rashad didn't need to and no one was expecting him to do so. The bad thing about dropping a 5 star classic as your debut is that your whole career will be defined by that debut and every subsequent release will be viewed as "...but it wasn't as good as his first one." The most important thing in a debut album, for me, is to find out who the artist is. Fans have no idea who Isaiah Rashad was other than he is from Tennessee. Well we found out he has had a lot of anger and daddy issues in his life and that's good that he was telling us. The very best songs tend to be the ones that are the most emotional because they relate to us not as fans but as humans and we can hear the pain in a musician's voice. But other than the pain is his life, his music also lets us know Rashad is a very spiritual person. It seems to be a theme with the TDE artists that spirituality is a major part of their lives and it shows in all of their music.
Another thing that was great about Rashad's debut was that he seems to have a certain direction that he wants to go in with his music already. This means on future projects, he can get right into that comfort zone instead of wasting tracks and multiple projects on finding his lane. I already mentioned the anger and the spirituality, but he also rhymes a lot about past experiences which he uses to make better decisions for the future. That comfort zone I was talking about is that laid back zone. I don't know if that was his decision or if it was TDE's but Isaiah Rashad appears as if he is being marketed as the chill guy you could smoke to. This is all a part of TDE's plan to put together a strong team. The problem with a group like Slaughterhouse, for example, is that all four are dope dope dope spitters, but that is really it. There is nothing that really differentiates one member from the other. If you hear Budden, it isn't anything different than listening to Ortiz. With TDE, you have Kendrick as the Top Dog (pun intended), then Schoolboy as the party guy, Ab-Soul as the spiritual lyricist, Jay Rock is the gangster who gets hungrier with every track he spits on, and SZA is the singer who will make you think about life. Everyone in TDE has a niche and each individual is one of the top, if not the best, artists in that niche they are in. That being said, I loved the production on Cilvia because it matches the laid back rhymes of Rashad to create that atmosphere. Every song fit with the beat. There wasn't any track that me thinking "why did they use this beat for that track?" There was a plan in place for the sound and it was executed.
The last thing that I really liked about the project was that Isaiah Rashad did most of the hooks. That shows he knows how to write a hook (which is probably the most important component to getting radio play) and that he can handle having himself on the hooks. He does a Kid Cudi-like cadence when on the hooks but he actually sound like he prepares what he is going to say unlike Cudi. Rashad sounds good on it meaning that TDE and Interscope don't have to break the bank to get someone to sing a hook for him.
My favorite song off of the EP was no doubt Heavenly Father. I just loved everything about that song and it is in the daily rotation. Not the best part of the song but a memorable one was at the end when he was talking about the dudes who give trill a bad name. I don't know exactly which rappers he was talking about but we can all trace that whack trillness to ASAP Rocky. He gave trill a new life and even though he isn't guilty of degrading the word, he is guilty for inspiring the degradation of it. I need to know who is the beautiful voice on the hook though. Other tracks I really liked were Banana, Soliloquy of course, Tranquility, Cilvia Demo, and I loved the juxtaposition of Modest. There weren't any tracks i would have thrown away but there were a few I skip right now. My mind usually changes on that kind of stuff though so that's why I won't name them now.
My closing thoughts...it was a very good debut for Isaiah Rashad and he set himself up for improvement with his next release. You don't need a home run in your first at bat. When that happens, you try to do that everytime and kind of miss the small shit that is the most important. He hit a double with this debut, not a homerun but he is still in scoring position. Now he can fine tune his techniques, learn from the other members of TDE, and just gain experience to get home. For what it is worth i'll give the album a solid B. The reason why it isn't higher is because I feel like Rashad has set himself up perfectly to drop an even better sophmore release. It was a very good debut but at the same time left a little something to be desired. I am anticipating his next release will be geared towards the radio, so it will be interesting to see if he changes anything up the next time around.
I got the Broncos beating the Pigeons 24-20. I hate you Dick Sherman and everything you stand for. Earl Thomas and Marshawn Lynch are the only Pigeons I root for and Russell Wilson has to have some skeletons in the closet.
Spice 1- The Murda Show
Fat Trel- Bitches