PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Isaiah Rashad: Cilvia Demo

Isaiah Rashad's jump into the public eye solidifies him as one of the best up-and-coming rappers to watch out for. Smooth production and intricate lyricism make this one of the most enjoyable releases of the year so far.

Cilvia Demo

US Release: 2014-01-28
Label: Top Dawg
Arist: Isaiah Rashad
UK Release: 2014-01-28
Label website

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.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.