Album Review/Stream: Isaiah Rashad- Cilvia Demo

Posted: February 16, 2014 by ericbernsen in Album Reviews, Music
Tags: , , , ,

TDE has established themselves as a top notch label the past couple of years with the Black Hippy crew of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock being the key centerpiece. They have become a dominant force in the West Coast rap scene, but that does not mean they are limiting themselves to California in terms of acquiring new talent. Last year the label signed a relatively unknown artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee named Isaiah Rashad. Once Rashad’s well-received single “Shot You Down” garnered more attention, it was immediately clear that TDE was onto something when they made the fantastic choice of signing this young talent. Rashad has officially introduced us into his world with the release of this EP titled Cilvia Demo and the substantial body of work is a high quality project that puts Isaiah in the forefront as one of hip-hop’s greatest up-and-comers.

The Cilvia EP invites the listener to partake in the life journey Isaiah Rashad has experienced thus far not only as an artist, but as a man. Right off the bat it is clear that Rashad’s style is grounded in Southern influence, but it does not rely on the overly used ‘trap’ sub-genre that has taken over at a mainstream level. From his infectious delivery to his vintage production choices, Isaiah presents himself as an artist who is not shy in paying homage to the legends he looks up to with tributes to Scarface (“Brad Jordan”) and Master P’s fallen brother (“RIP Kevin Miller”).  Throughout the entirety of the project, the constant theme acting as the backbone of Cilvia is Rashad’s inner-conflict struggle as he tries to balance his vices such as partying and lust with his determination to succeed in order to fulfill his responsibility as a father. The introspection on display is extremely genuine for an artist so early in his career as Rashad’s ability to turn self-reflection into relatable music is striking.

Despite the overall “deepness” of the project, the more conscious sentiments did not restrict the enjoyability of the music. After Rashad’s intro “Hereditary” briefly explains the impact of his father on his life, we are greeted with the head-nodding bounce of “Webbie Flow” that features Isaiah firing off rhymes which are powered by his incredibly drawled yet catchy flow. Isaiah Rashad’s cadence is perhaps his biggest strength as he uses it effectively within his melodic hooks on tracks like “Cilvia Demo”. This quality is further portrayed on the OutKast inspired “West Savannah” in which Rashad links up fellow TDE signee SZA who provides her angelic vocals. However, Cilvia is balanced out with harder-hitting records such “Soliloquy” and “Modest”, which showcase Rashad’s more aggressive side and his lyrical skills when it comes to technical wordplay. And regardless of whether Rashad is using his raw vocal ability to take a step back and reflect (“Heavenly Father”, “Tranquility”) or rapping at a high intensity level (“Banana”), the constant aspect of his artistic makeup is his poetically penned passion and profound emotion.

The production on the Cilvia EP gives Isaiah Rashad the perfect soundscape to let his feelings loose about everything from his inner demons to his rise to fame in the world of hip-hop. Rashad kept a close circle when gathering his in-house team of producers, and the popularity of their names is meaningless when you consider the appropriate mood they created for him sonically. The beats throughout the entirety of the EP range from booming to smooth, and overall the production is hypnotic as it carries the listener from one track to the next proving its well-crafted cohesiveness. Its downtempo vibes allow Rashad to use the proper platform to express his imperfections, and while Rashad’s singles such as “Ronnie Drake” and the “Shot You Down” remix have been more widely promoted, it is hard to call them ‘standout’ tracks due to the fluidity of the project. There are not any songs on the EP that require the skip button, and for a debut album that is an extraordinarily impressive feat for the Chattanooga emcee.

There was no need for a jam-packed set of guest features on the Cilvia EP, which Rashad could have easily accomplished with TDE backing him. From the good to the bad, it was clear that Isaiah had plenty to say about himself on this project and his honesty made it a refreshing listen. It would not be fair to say that Rashad is going through an “identity crisis”, but after hearing his story we know he is not afraid to admit he has doubts like anybody else. Rashad provides social commentary, but he is not preachy. Rashad does not hide his nostalgia for veteran Southern artists, but he does not copy their sounds. The natural creative mind of TDE’s most unproven member flourished on this project, and Isaiah definitely executed in the building of his artistic foundation. And while Rashad may tend to be overshadowed by the heavy hitters of TDE, his journey is only beginning and the Clivia EP gives his fans the reassurance that Rashad will never be something he’s not.

Album Rating: 4 out of 5

Listen to “Cilvia Demo” below and let us know what you think!

  1. […] himself like a veteran at the Wilbur Theatre last week. Performing a multitude of tracks from his critically acclaimed Cilvia Demo EP, his confidence on stage was extremely impressive. While many TDE diehards were well aware of his […]

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