August 5, 2021

Track By Track – Isaiah Rashad’s “The House Is Burning”

Track By Track – Isaiah Rashad’s “The House Is Burning”

What to expect from Isaiah Rashad’s second studio album “The House Is Burning.”

The first sound of The House is Burning is a tape loading into a tape deck, setting the tone for Isaiah Rashad’s signature nostalgic sound. This album is sixteen tracks spread over 48 minutes of nothing but music to vibe to. Rashad has perfected the cool Cali-sound despite being from Tennessee. 

Some rappers like DMX and Comethazine make music that makes you want to fight strangers and mosh, Isaiah Rashad’s music does the opposite. I doubt there’s ever been a mosh pit at an Isaiah Rashad concert, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have hits. 

Isaiah Rashad is one of the strongest members of the Top Dawg Entertainment roster, each of his projects reserves timeless qualities despite rarely breaking into the mainstream. Soft-spoken lyricism, and a fusion of west coast and southern influences define Rashad’s sound. This is highway driving music, songs built for cinematic scoring and introspective reflection. The House Is Burning builds upon Rashad’s growing catalog, will it help him burst onto Top 40 radio? Probably not. But has it legitimized him as a member of hip-hop’s rising class? Probably.

FEATURES:

Lil Uzi Vert, Duke Deuce, Smino, Amindi, Jay Rock, Jay Worthy, Iamdoechii, Kal Banx, YGTUT, SZA, and 6LACK. 

Rashad and TDE did a phenomenal job teaming up with artists who compliment Rashad well. Uzi, Smino, Duke Duece, and YGTUT all bring some much needed contrast to the album. SZA has appeared on three straight Isaiah Rashad albums. On Ebro In The Morning, Rashad said he picked the features on the album based on artists he “looks up to.”

Track List 

Darkseid – Starts with the smooth sound of a tape being popped into a tape deck then begs the question – “What am I supposed to do outside but get rich?” This song sets the tempo for the album, and is about Rashad staying honest to himself. Throughout the project, Rashad displays a maturity and ambivalence towards his circumstance.

From the Garden (ft. Lil Uzi Vert) – This is a standout track on the album. If you wanted to hear Isaiah Rashad make a Migos song – here it is. Rashad leans on Quavo’s flow in From the Garden which serves as this album’s Bad N’ Boujee because it features Lil Uzi Vert. On more than one occasion “Came out bussin’” is repeated 10-12 times in a row – straight out of the Migos playbook.

RIP Young – Smooth simple song featuring multiple flows, and a simple message. “Say that I’m a cold cat, fuck that – tell them bitches I’m a top dog,” which is both a cool thing to say and a tip of the hat to his label TDE. 

Lay Wit Ya – ft. Duke Deuce – This song brings together two Tennessee born rappers in Duke Deuce and Rashad, and the southern trap drums ring through hard. This is a phenomenal song to drive to. Lay Wit Ya was the first single released to promote this album. Listen closely and you’ll hear a Three 6 Mafia sample.

Claymore ft. Smino – This track sees two of the most talented rappers in the world teaming up in the primes of their careers. Smino lays down some amazing work, bringing life to this life with his always vibrant flow. Claymore features a funky guitar melody in the back drop making for easy listening. 

Headshots (4r Da Locals)This was the second single released and brings me back to Rashad’s hit “4r Da Squaw.” It serves as a tone setter for the back half of the album. It’s got the quintessential Rashad sound, smooth LA vibes with Southern influences.

All Herb feat Amindi – Amindi singing in the background sounds like a retro sample of a different song. The two pair well together, she sounds like Lauryn Hill. All Herb sounds like a modern Fugees track.

Hey Mista – Quick song, it almost feels like an interlude on the album. Most rappers would opt for an instrumental interlude or a skit, but because it’s an Isaiah Rashad interlude, he raps for the entire minute and 45 seconds.

True Story (ft. Jay Rock & Jay Worthy) – Teaming up with fellow TDE artist Jay Rock who name drops TDE in the song. Quick snare drum dominates this track, along with female vocals that sound like Amindi, along with Rashad’s signature smooth guitar beat. 

Wat U Sed (ft. Iamdoechii & Kal Banx) – Slow synth and Atlanta bounce sounds layered with jazz guitar. Wat U Sed is a slow, chill song for Rashad fans to smoke to.

Don’t Shoot – Tremendous vibes. “Don’t die my dude” This chorus is the contradiction of someone telling you that you have “Nothing to live for, so you ain’t got nothing to lose” as the words “Don’t shoot” are sung. Saxophone closes out the song. Jazz is ever present on The House Is Burning.

Chad (ft. YGTUT) – Isaiah Rashad and YGTUT compliment each other really well. YGTUT’s deeper voice and louder delivery contrasts well to Rashad’s aggressively smooth delivery. 

9-3 Freestyle – This track is dubbed a “freestyle,” which is always suspect on studio albums. This is definitely the most loose song on the album, Rashad wilds out and talks shit. It’s a fun quick little song. 

Score (ft. SZA & 6LACK) – With SZA and 6LACK, Score could become a hit record. This is the perfect sleeper record to start on R&B stations and then bleed into Top 40 stations. SZA and Isaiah Rashad go together like Peanut Butter & Jelly, then 6LACK is the icing on top. Score was produced by Kenny Beats and features ad libs by Young Thug peppered throughout. 

THIB – “Who’s that creepin in my window?” Isaiah Rashad asks, seeming to allude to the Goodie Mob song Cell Therapy. This track helps to transition towards the end of the album, a slow church organ loops over a snare drum beat as Rashad flows.

HB2U – “Is there a heaven?” Yes. “How would you know that?” You don’t. One of the most unique intros I’ve ever heard. An extremely dynamic finish to the album, featuring trumpets and a long bridge – one of the few 5+ minute songs on a popular rappers album in 2021. HB2U is essentially two different songs, but it would be perfect for a music video.  

Conclusion

Hip-hop is super segmented, this album won’t splash far outside of Rashad’s fan base – but Isaiah Rashad has a massive fan base. The themes of contradiction and change are present throughout the album. Smooth delivery, jazz influences, and snare drums are layered across this project expertly. If I had one wish, it’d be for Isaiah Rashad’s vocals to be turned up just a bit. Listening to the album, it was often hard to pay attention to the lyrics because the music was overpowering Rashad’s voice. 

Expect more to come from Rashad this year – just two days before his album release he dropped a new song with ScHoolboy Q that wasn’t on the album.

The House Is Burning could win awards and receive acclaim, but I doubt you’ll hear it on your radio or TikTok. Rashad is building a catalog of art, rather than fighting for fame or your attention. If you listen to Vince Staples and J Cole, you probably like Isaiah Rashad. If you listen to NBA Young Boy or the KID Laroi, this may not be the album for you.

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