Isaiah Rashad

The Sun's Tirade

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Whether Cilvia: Demo was viewed as an EP or an album, as a mixtape or an actual demonstration recording, there was a clear consensus that the release positioned Isaiah Rashad as a significant artist on the way up. The rapper subsequently battled substance abuse, depression, isolation, and a resulting creative paralysis that found his relationship with the Top Dawg label hanging by a thread. Not too proud to conceal struggles that escalated and developed in the wake of the acclaim, Rashad starts The Sun's Tirade, issued 31 months after Cilvia, with a voicemail -- an exasperated ultimatum -- from TDE's Dave Free. What follows goes deeper than the striking 2014 debut. Debauched and despondent rhymes are dealt out in casually candid fashion, whether they illustrate Rashad's escape routes, cul-de-sacs, or dead ends. The efforts of over 20 producers, most of whom weren't in on the debut, are in the predominantly mellow and gummy mix. Mike Will Made It and Pluss contribute the steely "A Lot," the foundation for Rashad at his most cold-blooded. Less prominent Toronto duo Crooklin and Pops trump it with the trap soul-jazz laid out for "Tity and Dolla," a nod to Playaz Circle in which Rashad freezes all competition by proclaiming "I hurt myself way more than you" and "I got no emotions." Steve Lacy, with Internet mate Syd sweet as ever in the background, cooks up a stoned groove for "Silkk da Shocka," a ballad that shifts from a romantic expression of gratitude to a grim depiction of dependency. In reflection of the track's emotional flexibility, Rashad's voice is dispirited, on the brink of disintegration, by the end of the final verse. The extent of Rashad's self-destruction notwithstanding, The Sun's Tirade is a TDE family affair all the way, with Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and Jay Rock all lending support. The mere existence of the album is a kind of feat. It's up to the label's high standard, a riveting composite of grief and filth like no other.

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