ALBUM: “Cilvia Demo” by Isaiah Rashad
RELEASE YEAR: 2014
LABEL: Top Dawg Entertainment
BEST TRACKS: “Ronnie Drake”, “West Savannah”, “Soliloquy”, “Heavenly Father”
FCC: Every song
When Isaiah Rashad signed a deal with Top Dawg Entertainment in 2013, he had big shoes to fill. After all, this is the same record label that’s home to hip-hop heavyweights like ScHoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar. Would he live up to the hype?
His 2014 debut proved that he could, in fact, hold his own. Cilvia Demo established Isaiah Rashad as an artist capable of coming as hard as Q while being as introspective as Kendrick. As a Chattanooga native, Zaywop brought a Southern flair to the TDE lineup – something that the West Coast-based label was previously lacking.
Cilvia Demo that explores the ups and downs of Rashad’s adolescence. Some common themes include a desire for guidance and lack thereof: On “Soliloquy”, he boldly claims “I left my daddy ‘round ‘97, he was lazy.” Considering he was 6 at the time, it’s more likely that his father left him. As a result of this estrangement, he turns to religion on the track “Heavenly Father”, but finds few answers there. On “Ronnie Drake”, Isaiah meditates on the Black experience in America: “Came a long way from a boat and an auction/Now we got names and a vote, then a coffin/Ain’t s— change but the coast we adopted.” Of course, he wouldn’t be a rapper if he didn’t indulge himself now and then, and tracks like “Webbie Flow (U Like)” and “Modest” prove he can brag with the best of them.
Isaiah Rashad is a breath of fresh air in TDE’s ever-expanding lineup of artists. His debut, Cilvia Demo, is a woozy blend of depressive introspection and aggressive slick talk perfect for a night drive or blowing up the aux. I recommend this project to fans of Mick Jenkins, EARTHGANG, and Smino.
– DJ Mango