Welcome to “New Music with Nick”. In this column, I’ll be reviewing some of the most notable album releases in various genres, with a focus on hip-hop, R&B, and pop music. Join me as we explore the ever-changing landscape of the streaming age.
Isaiah Rashad: “The house is on fire“ (July 30, 2021)
Isaiah Rashad never had the appeal of some of his contemporaries in hip-hop, despite his talent and uniqueness. Even without âsuperstarâ status, he established an impressive cult following that very few other rappers have achieved. After a hiatus of almost five years since his last studio album, “The tirade of the sunâ,â The House Is Burning âarrived as one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums of the year when it was released in July. Chattanooga’s beloved Rashad is finally back, his album being Top Dawg Entertainment’s first release in 2021.
Because Isaiah Rashad has been so open about his mental health, depression and addiction issues, it’s beautiful to see him again, happy to be making music and rekindling his creative process. Looking at interviews and following the artist’s social media, it’s clear that the album process was very therapeutic, representing a significant milestone in Rashad’s growth as a person.
“The House Is Burning” has so much solid and smooth music in it. It is an album that could be played as background music in almost any circumstance, and is marked by the musical ease of Rashad. With a natural ability to make recordings that are always melodic and meaningful, he makes it seem like it’s easy.
A Southern influence is still apparent in Zay’s music, but it shines strongly through the deliveries and production choices of this album. A great example is âLay Wit Yaâ: Isaiah’s chorus and verse comes with drawlings and content that can only be paired with southern rap to a listener’s ear. The production and choice of feature film, emerging Memphis rapper Duke Deuce, further complements the commitment to this focused sound. Drawing influences from across his homeland, Zay uses âLay Wit Yaâ to highlight an intriguing dive into Memphis trap music.
In general, the all-star roster contained some impressive artists, and there have certainly been a handful of times when guests stole the show from the song, for better or for worse.
Rashad’s performance on “Of the gardenâWas strong, but it was just the perfect beat for Lil Uzi Vert’s energy and bouncing flow, leaving Uzi more memorable. “Lay wit yaâSaw another case where Zay used a production style that was slightly beyond his reach. Duke Deuce was much more comfortable on the beat, carrying the track through his prolific prowess to the sound of Memphis and with perfect energy. “Claymore“saw Zay open up with smooth flows and his relaxing nature, but Smino walked in and took center stage with a refreshing, relentless and pleasant verse. Jay Rock did much the same on”True story“, after a minute and a half of relaxed introduction with an electric and hilarious verse that was one of the best parts of the album.
The range of quality within the tracklist is quite extensive. A few songs really stand out as some of my favorites from this year, but a few even shocked me by even making the final cut. Although there are a few songs on the two extremes, the majority of the songs fall into the category of âpretty goodâ songs that don’t really have any mind-blowing aspects.
“HB2UâIs one of the best songs of the whole year so far in hip-hop. The wonderful soul sample is met by Zay’s most personal and heartfelt performance throughout the project. It’s Rashad in his comfort zone, performing at his absolute highest level with all the elements of the track meshing in sincere unison. The main single from the album, “Headshots (4r Da Locals)âIs also one of the best songs to release this year, featuring Zay’s unmistakable and effortless Southern swagger and groove on the bill. “RIP YoungâCorresponds to an excellent additional piece which gives off a melodic soul and a light pleasure.
On another side, “Wat U SedâIs one of the lower quality tracks I’ve heard Rashad ever released. To clarify, it has one of the most consistent discographies I’ve heard in modern hip-hop, so that doesn’t mean much, but it’s still disappointing. “9-3 FreestyleâAlso falls into this category of disappointment, although it is quite funny and with a good rebound. Pieces like these made the art less focused than his past works.
“Cilvia Demo“Remains the magnum opus of Zay’s discography, followed by” The Sun’s Tirade “, with his latest album coming in third place. It’s not a last-ditch hit at all, but rather a major appreciation for the Tennessee artist’s impressive studio releases. Ultimately, the quality of the music across the entire disc is just a cut below the past, but it’s still at a higher level than many artists could achieve, even at their best.
While Rashad has developed a passionate fan base in large part through his honest portrayals of mental health and addiction, he doesn’t have to tackle these topics relentlessly. “The House Is Burning” does not naturally drop points as it lacks the astonishing humility and lyrical power of earlier works such as “”God” Where “HereditaryâFromâ Cilvia Demo. â A lot of people underestimate and misunderstand the burden an artist can feel from this responsibility, and I think it’s naÃ¯ve to constantly demand this level of openness and power from any artist. .
Isaiah continues to play such an important role for fans of his music, and with such consistent overall quality. Top Dawg Entertainment continues its modern prominence with its true star giving its fans yet another great work, hopefully one of the many other big projects in its future.
Favorite songs: “HB2U”, “Headshots (4r Da Locals)”, “RIP Young”, “From The Garden”, “True Story”
Album rating: 78/100
Check it out Spotify Playlist and I love that she follows some of my favorite songs from 2021 as the year goes on!