Isaiah Rashad: Southern-Raised, Westcoast Made

As contradictory as it sounds, a country breeding town of Chattanooga, Tennessee is where rapper and hip hop recording artist Isaiah Rashad has been hiding out all of these years. He spent time riding around those southern streets in his 1995 Honda Civic (aka Cilvia as he called her) listening to the rap gods he yearned to become one day. But it wasn’t until several years of recording on laptops with friends and inside local music studios that Rashad found his outlet. The 2012 Smoker’s Club Tour featured hip hop artists Juicy J among others, and none other than young Rashad.

isa2The newly discovered rapper found inspiration in well known southern rap artists his favorite being OutKast. “Master P made me want to be a rapper as a kid, and Lil Wayne made me want to be a rapper as a teenager,” he shared with independent music news publication Pitchfork. Although his inspirations are laced in the music he produces, his personality easily shines through in the lyrics as well. It’s hard to look past the fact that he can spin together verses that resonate with his listeners. “I got plans to be that nigga, I know you met him as a child. He gave you 10 bones, don’t sweat it, don’t wile,” Rashad stated in the lyrics of Cilvia Demo, giving people a glance into his childhood and plans for his future. Through punchlines and hooks, he twists in personal details about his life, allowing fans to get a sense of who he is.

In reference to Rashad, stated that “sometimes it’s essential to show people where you’re from to let them know where you’re going.” The artist took heed to this by allowing the world to step into his Tennessee background. In his music video for Ronnie Drake, a track off his debut extended play demo Cilvia. Rashad reintroduced fans to his family, partners and his infant daughter. In the video, the rapper’s 1995 Civic made an appearance, and rightfully so as the demo was named after his prized possession. Rashad expressed to pop culture news corporation Complex Media how he feels about his stomping grounds. “There’s more culture [in Tennessee] than people think is down there. People just assume that it’s just one way, but it’s really a gang of different people. Not just people who just have a deep, country-sounding accent. I probably wouldn’t be part of TDE if I had a super southern sounding ass sound,” he said. He easily has a way of representing his Southern roots to his West Coast team and new label-mates.

isa3March of 2013 marked the time when Rashad finally showed some interest in a record label that reached out to him. The California-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment is home to big time artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q. Eventually, Rashad got a chance work side by side with the rappers.. After the official announcement of his signing, Rashad quickly packed his things and moved to Los Angeles, California where he was to live and work at the TDE Red Room Studio. Life was moving quickly for the 22-year-old (at the time), as the next month brought about his first national television debut on the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards where he was praised for his strong verses in “Shot U Down,” which later became the last track on his EP. The track includes Rashad rapping the lyrics “get caught up in the hype, your career is for a night.” The newcomer at the time had been silent for quite some time after his signing, have conserved his energy for this track. Better that he waited to exert such energy as this song became quite the hit, as did his EP which was later released in January 2014.

isa4Aside from being a new father, Rashad has become one of the most talked about new rappers. Over the past year he has performed at major music festivals, such as Counterpoint in Kingston Downs, GA as well as at the ONE Music Festival in Atlanta. Moving forward, Rashad has dreams to perfect his craft while discovering other sides of the music industry other than rap, such as producing, picking beats and determining where a feature needs to go. He shares with Complex: “It went from, ‘Who is he?’ to now they’re looking for my point of view and my perspective. People want to hear what’s on my mind. But everything’s new. Y’all experiencing the s*** with me.”

-Kayla Rowe