[5 March 2014]
Signing with the hottest label in the rap game brings forth unwieldy expectations. Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Kendrick Lamar have all established their place in the game and have rocketed Top Dawg Entertainment to a position among the elite. While this enables the artists to reach a wider audience than ever, it also opens the door for many more fans and critics to voice their opinions if they don’t feel you live up to the hype, as Schoolboy Q is soon to discover with the release of Oxymoron
The newest member of TDE is in the toughest position of all, as he has no major projects under his belt and is being thrust right into the spotlight. It’s hard to anticipate what you’re going to get from the Tennessee rapper. For most fans, all they know of Isaiah Rashad is his verse in the 2013 BET cypher. This one verse was enough to let you know that Isaiah Rashad fit right in amongst the TDE crew, but wasn’t enough to let you get a feel for what he was really about. That’s why the introductory Cilvia Demo is so important.
While it’s being billed as an EP, at 49 minutes, it’s hard to actually call Cilvia Demo an EP. This is a full album being sold at a discounted price for promotional purposes. Just like a full-length studio album, Cilvia Demo is a release that deserves your full attention. It’s not an album that’s going to immediately grab your attention. The production is fairly standard and the hooks take time to grow on you. If you don’t come back to Cilvia Demo after an underwhelming first listen, you’ll be missing out.
Isaiah Rashad is a wordsmith and a storyteller. His skill isn’t as palpable as a Kendrick or Pusha T, who make their presence felt by coming in and bodying a track. Rashad delivers his verses with a blend of southern smoothness and west coast attitude that gives his music a stamp of identity. His versatility is on display as well. The smooth banger “Modest” transitions right into the introspective “Heavenly Father”. For every “R.I.P. Kevin Miller” there’s a lifestyle questioning “Tranquility”, and both sides of Isaiah Rashad are equally satisfying.
A good first impression leaves a lasting impression, and that’s just what Isaiah Rashad did. Not only did he prove that he could fit right alongside the other TDE members, but he proved he has as much potential as anyone among the new wave of rappers. The chilled production compliments Rashad’s smooth, thought-provoking vocals to create a cohesive album that’s one of the best of the young year. The whole purpose of Cilvia Demo was to make Isaiah Rashad’s presence in the rap game known. It’s safe to say that the mission was accomplished. As good as Cilvia Demo is, it still carries the feeling of an appetizer. It’s hard to be content with living in the moment, and many fans will now be expecting Isaiah Rashad to release his own good kid, m.A.A.d city within the next year or two. It’s impossible to predict just how good Isaiah Rashad can be, but you can be sure he’s not leaving anytime soon.