Published Jan 28, 2014Chattanooga, Tennessee MC Isaiah Rashad is the latest recruit to Top Dawg Entertainment, and on a team that includes the likes of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock, he's clearly the raw and talented rookie. On Cilvia Demo, Rashad isn't trying to hide he's a work in progress — after all, the EP cover features scratched-out titles like "Pieces of A Kid," the name of an unfinished project of his that never surfaced. Over Cilvia Demo's soulful, enveloping ambience, Rashad isn't shy to share his influences either: "Brad Jordan" is titled after rapper Scarface's government name, "R.I.P. Kevin Miller" is a nod to Master P's late brother and "West Savannah" is one of the many lyrical nods to Outkast. However, to his credit, Rashad doesn't sound like a second-rate derivative of any of those artists, and is developing his own inimitable phrasings and flows.
The theme of being a descendent in a musical sense is extended to Rashad's familial reality on Cilvia Demo, delivering some of the EP's strongest moments. The stark and gospel-inflected confessional "Heavenly Father" expounds on Rashad's anguish over his father being absent in his youth hinted at in the EP intro "Hereditary," while entries like "Tranquility" display his introspective and spiritual side.
This doesn't mean Rashad is averse to ruthlessly technical mic displays. "Soliloquy" packs countless quotables into less than two minutes and the previously-released steely-eyed mission statement "Shot You Down" carries even more weight with ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock's contributions. Rashad isn't immune to prompting eye-rolling over his youthful indiscretions and the EP's soulful cohesiveness can occasionally work against it, but when he vows "just wait 'til I get this shit perfect" on "Banana," given the evidence on hand, it's hard not to believe him believing in himself.
Read an interview with Isaiah Rashad here. (Top Dawg)