Isaiah Rashad is likely the most underrated member of Top Dawg Entertainment, which, admittedly, is not the most prestigious title when that label includes the likes of Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock. However, being underrated does not imply a lack of promise. Indeed, his position on the label indicates an incredible opportunity – he does not have to worry about the astronomical expectations placed on a major artist like Kendrick Lamar but also can utilize all the resources and connections of a large label. Rashad hasn’t officially released much music, but what he has released has been incredible. Cilvia Demo was a relatively short EP with a fairly eclectic mix of what boils down to sad stoner-rap if we’re oversimplifying things. More specifically, Rashad mixes his surprisingly good singing with melodic rap layered over his own background vocals, creating a soundscape that adds to the emotional content of his songs. He tackles suicide, ennui, depression, drug abuse, and absent fathers on Cilvia Demo amongst a plethora of other topics as well. Isaiah Rashad’s appeal to me as a young person is that he is relatable, he speaks about pertinent issues to young people of every upbringing and lifestyle and he speaks about it from his own experiences.
“Nelly” is a new song from Rashad that hopefully is an indicator of new music to come. It has the hallmarks of his previous project and is sonically fairly similar, but seems a little updated, a little smoother. The first words you hear come out of Rashad’s mouth are a spontaneous “Bitch you know you can’t parallel park anyway.” This sets the tone for the entire song as a little goofy and fun – not quite his most serious song. “Nelly” is real, it’s catchy, and I think it shows a lot of promise.
“We can’t be no number one,” muses Rashad on the chorus to “Nelly” and I honestly beg to differ. I think Isaiah Rashad could be huge really soon because of his relatable nature, his vague goofiness, and his infectious song making.