By Cailynn Beck, Contributor
[Top Dawg Entertainment; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Stuck In The Mud,” “Dressed Like Rappers,” “Rope // rosegold”
In January 2014, Top Dog Entertainment dropped southern rapper Isaiah Rashad’s critically-acclaimed debut Cilvia Demo, a record known for its captivating lyrics reflecting feelings of depression, isolation, trauma, darkness and abandonment. Two years later, we are introduced to Rashad’s latest and greatest masterpiece The Sun’s Tirade, which is a rather pivotal release for his career.
Rashad is known for lyrics that are introspective and delivery that is comparable to a stream of consciousness. This is apparent in the track titled “Stuck in the Mud,” featuring alternative R&B artist SZA. Lyrics like “Can I sleep for a while? / Can I work on myself?” and “It’s all bugged out, I’m still drugged out” carry Cilvia Demo’s theme of drug addiction and psychological problems. With an echoing synth and a rumbling heavy bass, this song carries an overall melancholy sound, making it a highlight on the album.
“Dressed Like Rappers” is a track that could be described as lyrically lucid and articulate. Rashad really opens up in this song about substance abuse and past drug dependency issues. The lyric “Little boys dressed like rappers / Can that road make them daddies?” emphasizes the issue Rashad has with the glamorization of today’s modern “rapper lifestyle.” The outro is a very comical phone call recording of Dave Free telling Rashad he “talks about all this nasty shit in his music.” “Girls, bro, the girls you meet, dog. They’re like born in 1994 bro, that’s creepy dog, that’s nasty dog.”
Influenced by Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, Rashad similarly manipulates his voice to create raspy vocals in “Rope // rosegold.” Rashad breaks up the song into two parts, leaving the first half of the song with a very 90s-funk-influenced sound. The second half of the song has a lot of very dry, live drumbeats and sampling from a 70s soul artist called Minnie Riperton. Although this song is essentially a bipartite, both halves together still share the same idea of overcoming a struggle and contrivance.
The Sun’s Tirade is a production representing an artist that is transitioning and taking steps to move away from isolation and depression. This album is funky, sobering, melancholy, and honestly, just flat out dope. It’s definitely going to leave its mark on the industry as well as leave Isaiah Rashad fans wanting more.