Album Review: 'The Sun's Tirade' by Isaiah Rashad

Rapper Isaiah Rashad performing in concert. (Jessy Busgeeth/flickr)

After over two years, Isaiah Rashad, rookie labelmate to notable acts like Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, has finally dropped his sophomore album, “The Sun’s Tirade” on Sep. 2. This album serves as a follow up to his critically acclaimed album “Cilvia Demo”, which instantly solidified his place on the Top Dawg Entertainment label when it was released in late January of 2014.

The album comes at a pivotal time in Rashad’s life. For the past few years, his core fans have anxiously awaited a follow up project with little to show for it. Speculation to what might be causing the wait has raised questions of internal label issues, family problems or other personal commitments.

Rashad answered such questions in a recent interview with Hot 97’s radio personality Peter Rosenberg, when asked about his absence. “I got off the Oxymoron Tour addicted to Xanax,” confessed Rashad, before adding that he was also “an alcoholic.” This addiction clearly stunted his ability to make new music, and tainted his relations overall with his TDE labelmates. It even went as far as Rashad almost being dropped from the TDE label completely, with him adding, “I almost got dropped like three times.”

At this point, TDE president Anthony Tiffith sent Rashad home to get some well-needed rest and recovery. It seems evident in the artist’s tone that some re-evaluation was necessary to get back in the right state of mind to record music. “It’s not like I don’t think about it every once in awhile,” commented Rashad on his addiction. “I’ve just got a bigger goal to do and I’ve got examples of the outcome.”

This realization was a modest one on Rashad’s part, but it was undoubtedly one of the largest proponents that led to his delivery of a great body of work.

On this album, Rashad continues his trend of being wildly introspective and soulful through his music. Honing in on a groggy yet tumultuous vibe, he projects his signature vocals over each track, accompanied by thoughtfully analytical verse after verse.

Rashad is existing in a place that is both familiar and tragically different in this project, running the line between a destructive and progressive lifestyle. The fame that he has worked so diligently for is the same medium of his destruction, fueling his pre-existing addictive personality, as well as all the vices that come with such an affliction. It makes for a very compelling and skewed style of music.

The resulting diversity is a sound that Rashad’s listeners have come to love about his music. He creates a melancholic yet comforting melody on the song “4 Da Squaw,” where he uses vague but impactful lyrics to describe a position of neutrality. He details from the third person perspective, “you ain’t nothin but a baby, your fear is growing up” in reference to himself and his issues with maturity. Within the same song, however, he also speaks of boastful ambition “To be expressed in who we are, and addressin’ who they aren’t, and doin’ what they can’t.”

On an even deeper cut, “Stuck in the Mud,” featuring labelmate SZA, Rashad delves further into his battle with drugs and depression. Lines like “Oh, shots from the ruger, shots from the ruger, somebody died but don’t nobody care, It’s all bugged out, I’m still drugged out,” show the desensitization to the pains of his surroundings that have become routine-like. Further, we get yet another glimpse into Rashad’s world, which has been dominated by prescription drugs and alcoholism for quite some time.

But there is more to Rashad than addiction and the self-induced woes that come along with it. This album is far from a parting gift of his career. Rashad is in the middle of a transition towards recovery, and this album is told from a retrospective view rather than a current perspective. The album ends on a high note with the song “Find a Topic (homies begged)” which seems to be a resolution. After all the dark and dreary moods and subject matters he delves into, Rashad is able to point himself in the right direction for the future.

An album like this leaves one feeling closer to the artist who created it. We all know someone who has struggled addiction, and if we don’t, we can consider ourselves lucky to say so, and recognize what a terrible affliction it truly is. Music that is able to elicit such emotions out of its listeners is representative of a great body of work. Rashad is exemplary of the type of artist that comes too few and far between in hip-hop today; he cares about the listener and the quality of music he provides them. We wish Rashad success in his ongoing battle with addiction, as his story is such a testament to the struggle of countless listeners of his.


Christopher Mueller is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mueller@uconn.edu.