Isaiah Rashad has come back from a nearly five-year hiatus to give us a sneak peek at his new album, The House Is Burning, with his new single “Lay Wit Ya.” The single features fellow Tennessee rapper, Duke Deuce. Along with the single, Rashad released accompanying visuals. TDE President, Top Dawg first teased a new release on April 28th. Many fans were expecting a release from his TDE labelmate, Kendrick Lamar. After Top Dawg’s tweet, Lamar was trending on Twitter over the next few days. Both Lamar and Rashad have not released an album in quite some time. But anyone closely following TDE’s movements would’ve known the release was going to be Isaiah Rashad.
Who Is Isaiah Rashad?
Unlike the founding members of TDE, Rashad is not from California. He is from Chattanooga, Tennessee. While Tennessee is certainly not new to the hip-hop scene, most Tennessee artists come from Memphis. Rashad is from completely across the state in Chattanooga. He was a part of the second wave of artists TDE signed after the success of Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q. Rashad was accompanied by R&B artist, SZA as the next two artists for TDE to make international superstars. To many, Rashad was supposed to be the next Kendrick Lamar. His lyrics, delivery, and choice of production were all culminating in him becoming the next big rapper. When he released his debut project, Cilvia Demo, those comparisons only grew in size. He wasn’t just another Kendrick Lamar though; he had a voice and a perspective rarely heard of in hip-hop.
After the critical acclaim Rashad received for Cilvia Demo, he began work on his debut album, The Sun’s Tirade. It wasn’t until two years later that fans got to hear what Rashad had been making. The album’s first track features TDE co-president Dave Free asking Rashad why he still hasn’t gotten his album finished yet. Free says “You know what March, April, May, June, July, and about to be August, have in common, bro? The fact I still don’t have your god**** album.” This sentiment is mirrored by Rashad’s fans for the past five years since his debut album.
It is quite uncommon for an up-and-coming artist to release an album as critically acclaimed as The Sun’s Tirade and an EP like Cilvia Demo and then disappear out of the limelight as Rashad did. But when you release quality pieces of work such as Rashad’s two projects, you get breathing room to release your next project.
Where Has Isaiah Rashad Been?
After the release of his critically acclaimed debut album, Isaiah Rashad disappeared. Fans surmised it was label troubles that caused Rashad to disappear from the limelight. TDE is a very close-knit label and they rarely release albums without very intense consideration of timing, quality, and relevancy. Unfortunately, something as minuscule as label problems was not the cause for Isaiah Rashad’s hiatus.
In a recent interview with Fader, Rashad goes into detail about where he has been for the past five years. After the release of The Sun’s Tirade, Rashad formed an addiction to Xanax and alcohol. He tells the Fader, “Then I went on tour and it ain’t like a lot of sh** had changed. If anything, it got worse, but it just didn’t look as bad outwardly because I had so much going on.” After he finished his tour in 2017, he acquired a large sum of money and he began supporting more people than he could handle. He spent money on expensive clothes, food, and alcohol. It got so bad that he ended up being homeless living on a friend’s couch for five months. “It was the quickest fall from grace I could ever imagine,” Rashad recalls. He began drinking more and recording less.
After some time back in his hometown, Rashad confided in Top Dawg, who sent him to a rehab center to try to work through some of his problems. After a short, but helpful stint in rehab, Rashad began to work out some of the issues he had and decided to begin recording his next album.
Rashad’s Return to Music
In the article with Fader, Rashad said he didn’t begin making his album until January of 2020. Before then, he only had ideas of what he was going to put on the album. Fast forward a year and a half later, Top Dawg teases a TDE artist’s release. On Friday, May 7th, fans finally get to hear what Isaiah Rashad has been working on for the past year. “Lay Wit Ya” is features fellow Tennessee rapper, Duke Deuce and a sample from Memphis legends, Three 6 Mafia. Just as Rashad’s labelmates inject their upbringing into their music, so does Rashad. The song from start to finish is unapologetically southern rap. You can hear that Rashad has updated his sound during his hiatus as well. Duke Deuce comes into the song like a Tennessee tornado with his hectic crunk energy.
It is said that the single is one of the two “radio-friendly” tracks on the album. After listening to it, you can see why. It has an infectious beat and lyrics that will grow on you with every listen. At the end of the video, in true TDE fashion, Rashad previews another song off the album. After five years of silence, I am excited for every moment of music.