A relative unknown until his signing with Black Hippy imprint Top Dop Entertainment, Isaiah Rashad is introduced to the world through Cilvia Demo, a fourteen track album that clocks in just under an hour, that is somehow marketed as an EP. Coming out of Chattanooga, TN, but then moving to Carson, CA, the album documents his life thus far.
Still untouched by industry evils, this “demo” version of Rashad is him in his most pure, stripped down form. Without the help of a larger conglomerate to fund the project with big name production and hot guest appearances, Rashad has to carry the brunt of the weight himself. That being said, Cilvia Demo is a shining example of untapped, raw talent, strong enough to wear the TDE name.
What drives Rashad is the disappearance of his father when he was 3, the same man who inadvertently influenced his rap career by letting him stay up late and listen to Scarface and Too $hort as a child. This comes through all over the album, as he starts of the project bluntly on “Hereditary”: “My daddy taught me how to drink my pain away / My daddy taught me how to leave somebody / My daddy taught me how to smoke my load and go / My daddy taught me you don’t need nobody….”.
Rashad’s father’s life lessons inadvertently made him the man he is today, as songs like the misogynistic “Cilvia Demo” and “Soliloquy” show he is cut from the same cloth. Yet he’s conscious of this fact, as he laments on the incredibly executed “Tranquility”, “I wonder if my son gon’ trust me, after songs so ugly / Bout his moms, ain’t mean to see the world so crummy…”.
His flow is exercised wonderfully on tracks like “R.I.P. Kevin Miller” and the Scarface tribute, “Brad Jordan”, two deeper cuts that definitely help sew the album together. Songs like “Tranquility” dominate the sound of the album, which is clearly influenced by other chilled-out albums like Outkast’s ATLiens – or in the case of “West Savannah”, Southernplayalisticadillacmusic. Both “West Savannah” and “Heavenly Father” find Rashad singing for most of the tracks – in more of a Kendrick sense than a Drake style – and present two of the album’s strongest moments. You can bet that his talent in this area will be used to its fullest extent on forthcoming major releases from both himself and other members of the TDE camp.
Cilvia Demo‘s release with no real buzz or following before it was a gamble for Top Dawg Entertainment, but one that has certainly paid off, at least from a critical standpoint. Like Kendrick’s discovery some years ago, whoever is signing new artists at TDE has an incredible ear for raw talent, as Isaiah Rashad might just be the next big thing.
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