BY TOM AUSSEMS
Like so many of his peers, Isaiah Rashad dreamed of becoming a rapper. In order to pay for the recording of his songs, he worked at a local fast food restaurant. “Oh, and Hardee’s,” he would later nostalgically tell FADER magazine in 2013. “I worked at Hardee’s up until last October .” While taking orders he began thinking about how to express himself via lyrics and performing in major arenas across the country. Maybe finally trading in that beat-up Honda Civic for a Merced…? Wait…back to reality; “Welcome to Hardee’s. What can I get for you?”
His dreams of hip-hop stardom started when Rashad’s step-brother brought home a copy of Outkast’s 1996 album, ATLiens. Enchanted and inspired by what he heard, he put aside his early ambitions to become a preacher and started focusing on rap music. His step-dad and uncle were both former local rappers, and with stereos blasting hip-hop all around, Rashad felt as though he’d found his calling. Though he skipped school and started smoking marijuana, his laptop recordings were promising. By chance, he was invited to record for free at his cousin’s studio, where he produced his first demos. Flitting from couch to couch in the town’s studios, his productions started to draw the attention of the right people. His hard work paid off in 2012 when he was asked to join the Smoker’s Club Tour with the likes of Juicy J.
It was 2013 when Rashad was offered a more permanent couch to crash on, taking him from his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee to the Mecca of rap music, Los Angeles. Soon after arriving in California he finished his first major league track, “Shot You Down,” described as “a propulsive statement of purpose” by Fader Magazine. Around the same time, it was announced to the public that Rashad had signed to Top Dawg Entertainment – a label that boasts one of the most impressive rosters in the industry with superstars such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock. Following the success of Rashad’s first release, he dropped “Brad Jordan” and “Ronnie Drake.” The subsequent hype helped make his forthcoming album one of the most anticipated of 2014.
The name of Rashad’s debut album, Cilvia, is derived from his decrepit old Honda Civic and refers indirectly to the struggles he faced growing up. After the enthusiastic reception of Cilvia, Rashad suddenly found himself amongst the most talked about rappers in the country. The album’s thoughtful, intelligent lyrics earned him praise from the hip-hop community, including Complex Music, who complimented him for “making each line count.” After the release, he supported Schoolboy Q on his international Oxymoron tour, performing in countries from Australia to Switzerland. Being featured in XXL Magazine’s 2014 “Freshman Class” of rappers to watch, this 23-year-old wunderkind is bound to boost the Platinum-potential of every track he lends his flow to. Rashad is soon setting out to perform on stages in Norway and Belgium before touring some of the biggest U.S. festivals this summer.
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