If every King needs an heir to the throne, then there’s no mystery why Top Dawg Entertainment sees that in the Chattanooga, Tennessee product known as Isaiah Rashad. An MC with skills and a personality to match, Rashad is cut from the cloth of an abstract, in which case his mystique fits right at home with the aura that surrounds his labelmates Ab Soul, Schoolboy Q, and of course the critically acclaimed Kendrick Lamar. Rashad has both lyrics and delivery in his repertoire, as well as ambiguous meaning in his content and subject matter - whereas the themes of his music can be thought of as shallow or deep depending on the interpretation. His first TDE release was titled Cilvia Demo and was met with rave reviews from most critics (who already have a tendency to praise his particular style; see: Kendrick), yet it was released in early 2014 making it over 2 and a half years since we had last heard from him.
The rumors were that Rashad’s alcoholism and pill addiction had likely attributed to the long delay of his debut album, and the artist himself gave credence to the fact that his indiscretions had almost got him dropped from the label. Yet without further ado here is The Sun’s Tirade in all it’s glory, critiqued track by track below as best as one could make sense of it.
Where U At? -
"like everybody was bumpin' your last shit, you don't want to get your next shit out? You don't care? You don't care that they want to hear your next shit? You just that good huh?” A relatively humorous intro in the form of a voicemail left by TDE co-president Dave Free, which is effective in describing the anticipation behind this new project, as well as the overall mystique of the artist which to this point is likely his best quality.
4r Da Squaw-
"Alright now I got the moon and the stars below my feet, so low I speak, so I don't wake them, praise the Lord, the God in me" Rashad comes out swinging as this is without a doubt one of the best records on the album, further illustrated by the video treatment posted further down the review which is likely win over hundreds of thousands of newfound fans.
Free Lunch -
“Meal ticket, ticket, meal ticket, ticket, comma, uh, Steel in my liver, real ***** in my condom, huh, Phil hit me back, filled this one with a powder pack, Pill bring me back, feel this one out in California” Released about a month before the album was released, this is more or less a promo record that also comes through with the video treatment (not a bad look for a brand new artist - even if videos don’t make the impact they used to). As far as the record… production by Cam O’bi is fire and the lyrics are good enough… yet as Rashad himself says on Genius.com “The song wasn’t really about nothing. It sounds tight. It’s really just a shout out to my crib, really”... so please spare me with all the stretch armstrong’s out there - like this one
Rope/ rosegold -
“When I'm sober I might testify, that this world has fallen out of place, for the few that always touch the sky, I don't want space ships, I miss my roses...” This record actually is deep… during an interview with Sway in the Morning, Rashad mentioned that the rope is something that can help you or hang you… and in regards to the above lyric, the ‘roses’ are likely his country scenery which he described in other interviews as something that gives him peace of mind (in contrast to New York and LA which he can do without)... this one is actually as thought provoking as his fans would like all of his records to be...
Wat's Wrong ft Zacari & Kendrick Lamar-
"I told Zay, I'm the best rapper since twenty five, been like that for a while now, I'm twenty-nine, any ***** that disagree is a fuckin' liar, pardon me, see my alter ego was Gemini" The best record off the album, this one is nothing short of remarkable and provides legitimate hope that Rashad will be a true throwback to the golden era of rap music. On this soulful track he gets phenomenal production from D Sanders and Al B Smoov along with an excellent feature from his label mate Kendrick Lamar (in the first ever collaboration), with a verse as good as anything that K Dot has ever recorded.
“They got me so high that I look like I'm passive, bitch, don't you know who you asking? bitch have you tutored the pastor, I know the root and the master, I know the coupe was a casket…” Rashad is kinda snappin on this… records like this make it clear that he’s a legit MC in addition to being an abstract… but the verdict is still out as far as how nice he really is… still this is encouraging… I enjoy it...
BDay ft Kari Faux & Deacon Blue -
“House-side ***** always stuffin' a few, southside ***** always keepin' it there, .45 trigger gave 'em somethin' to do, we shoulda shot at the moon” I like the record but I’m still curious how much effort was put into it… granted it sounds lazy on purpose and it’s also reminiscent of something that might have been left off Aquemini…which no doubt is great company to be with... not mad at this one... this one is cool and I’m sure it’s even better when you’re on the xanys smh…
Silkk Da Shocka ft Syd Tha Kid -
“I ride around in your car, I put my weed in your blunt, I am the sky to your star, I am the end of your month…” I promise you there’s never been a song with Silkk Da Shocka’s name on it that sounds this smooth… maybe the Mya record but nothin else after that… Rashad and Syd float on this and if you’re just laid back and kickin it, this is definitely a song for the vibe, a vibe that Silkk was never capable of (I'm all for nostalgia tho, so salute to No Limit)… otherwise it ends with Dave Free in the outro pleading for Rashad to ‘find a topic’ - and while I feel this record I also feel his pain…
Tity & Dolla ft Jay Rock & Hugh Augustine -
“I'm just one dirty motherfucker, I hurt myself way more than you, this too much out here for the cup, I put that codeine in my soup… lately I’ve only been bumpin that Yachty, all this Burberry on the top of my body” Man i wish Rashad didn’t say that bullshit.. Cause in respect to the art form it’s never been cool to like rappers who don’t know how to rap or respect the ones that do… but that’s a discussion for a different day cause they actually all spit flames on this… without a doubt this is some of the best rapping on the album and the production by Pops and Crooklin is fire as well… whether the title is a tribute to Playaz Circle is ultimately irrelevant tho… yet if that’s the case I don’t see the significance, this is good Hip Hop either way.
Stuck in the Mud ft SZA -
“I got a blunt inside my granny whip, like my granny did, when she was dealin' with them damages” Rashad has a great voice and that, along with his mystique, is perhaps his best quality over everything else… on this record he talks about what he talks about all throughout the album… and while by track 10 it may seem repetitive at this point, the production behind him is decent enough to carry it, and SZA’s vocals compliment this record as well - then it flips halfway through with the “pop a xany make your problems go away’ vibes for the last 2:30… and I actually like the music despite not bein moved by the message at all (over 75% of popular rap artists are poppin pills these days… I’m not excited…)
A Lot -
"Project Pat was always like a father figure, skinny pimp respect me bitch I'm mobbin' *****” Produced by Mike WIll Made It who always comes with uptempo high energy instrumentals… Rashad sounds lazy as fuck on this lmao… and I guess that’s the point… Rashad won’t conform for anybody… but still… SKIP!!!!!!!!!
“Junked out smokin' from the side door, with a bitch I wanted in the eighth grade” The AA likely is a reference to Alcoholics Anonymous, in which Rashad has had a long history with mixing xanax and alcohol, which as stated before almost got him dropped from the label. Of course in the music world that truly only adds to his ‘artistry,’ despite the fact that it’s pretty much overkill at this point… everyone from Future to the Rae Sremmurds rap about pills in every song… i’m cool on this… there's a lot more to rap about...
Dressed like Rappers -
“I got a face that only your bitch could love, your type ***** don't mix with us, ain't this special like just because, backpack full of that wrist and lung” The production by D.K. The Punisher is what’s most notable about this record… not that Rashad doesn’t do his numbers as well… it’s just more of the same in regards to flexin about his lifestyle… although the depression raps in verse two provide hope that he can expand his subject matter as he gets further into his career.
Don’t Matter ft Lance Skiiwalker -
“But I don't have time for you baby, I am all for the profit, I am past my self-destruction, but you bring it back, I got a line for you waitin' in my Cadillac” Talk about a change of pace… this one is as interesting as the rest but it also stands out because it’s high tempo… but that’s about it… this is regular if we’re bein real…
"I got two cigarettes to my last name, I clock in for the check but I don't wanna go" This is a heartfelt and soulful record that is cut from a cloth that is extremely rare in today's climate of Hip Hop… and we need more where this came from… of course our pain usually brings out the best of our work, and that’s no different here, as Rashad explained that Brenda is his grandmother who passed away before he made it... (also that saxophone by Terrace Martin never sounded better) - great record.
By George (outro) -
“You take me back to '99, I ain't been there in so long” it’s so trippy… it sounds like Outkast... it’s sonically progressive you can tell he takes risks…smh.. cut it out... SKIP!
Find A Topic (Homies Begged) -
“I got 25 plus a few, this might be the zip, or the shit or another clue, I got what you need, what you don't, what you never knew” I mean… this is cool… but at this point it’s all a blur… press play on this once you’re faded and enjoy… but as far as applauding it in a written review… like a handful of the records on this album I simply don’t feel inclined to do that… (btw, practically anything sounds good when you’re zooted, so artists please take notice: that is never, ever, the standard)...
In conclusion this album is a lot of things while pretty basic all at once. If you feel obliged to you can find a half dozen meanings to every one of these songs, as it’s the perfect content for internet thinkpieces and social media hype, and if you really want to be pretentious just go on genius.com and watch these millenials try to solve the Davinci Code with every lyric. A more reasonable interpretation would be that the album is a culmination of the artist’s struggles and triumphs as well as a celebration of the culture that he identifies with. A southern boy in the big city of Los Angeles, Rashad is true to himself and won’t let the industry break him - even if his own temptations can be just as destructive. As far as the music itself there’s a lot to love and a love to be left desired for, as while he’s lyrical he’s not exactly ‘fucking up your rewind button.’ yet even on his worst day he’ll always still be good for the vibe...