ISAIAH RASHAD – THE HOUSE IS BURNING REVIEW

Isaiah Rashad is an artist who many big fans of Hip Hop would have expected to have become a superstar within the genre at this point. He has been on the cusp of a break of breaking the glass ceiling and being considered one of the best in the world for a long time but has never quite got to that level. A lot of that has to do with the infrequency of releases from him compared to other top rappers. Most artists these days release something new every year or two, and he has taken five years in between releasing his last album and this new one. This is partly because of a drug addiction he developed; over the last several years, his on and off addiction to Xanax has potentially derailed his career multiple times and almost got him dropped from his record label, TDE. Because of the infrequency in his releases, he has kind of been pushed to the wayside by more casual Hip Hop listeners as more and more artists pop up. Isaiah Rashad is ready to fight his way back to the top, though, and he is starting this journey with his newest record, which is called The House Is Burning. With all of that being said, here is my opinion on Isaiah Rashad’s The House Is Burning. Please let me know in the comments below how you feel about this record, and also comment what your favorite tracks are from it as well.

Bitches say that I’m a cool cat, fuck that. Tell them bitches I’m a Top Dawg, get shot. Roll the window, let the propane outside. Bunch of niggas doin’ donuts, yeah. Got the money in a headlock, big dog. Every time we hit the red lights, just shine. lt ain’t nothin’ but a good day, don’t die. They ain’t teach ’em how to pump fake, big shot… – ‘RIP Young’

The House is Burning starts out with the song ‘Darkseid,’ an easy-going Jazz-Rap joint that reminds me a lot of Kendrick Lamar(I have a feeling the mentioning of Kendrick as an influence on the music from this record will be frequent, as he is a big inspiration for Isaiah Rashad). ‘Darkseid’ has a sleek and silky instrumental that fits well with Isaiah Rashad’s relaxed yet assertive rapping style. He flows effortlessly on this instrumental, and he sounds at ease while doing it. In ‘Darkseid,’ Isaiah talks about his desire to make it big and become rich. He proclaims that no one and nothing will get in his way. He also acknowledges the perils of becoming too cocky and tells himself he will make sure to stay humble. Following this, we have ‘From the Garden’ featuring Lil Uzi Vert. This song has quickly become one of my favorites from this record. The production on this one is sporadic and quirky and hard-hitting; it may not fit in with some of the more cool and sleek West Coast instrumentals from this record we are more used to hearing from Isaiah, but it proves right off the bat he has more up his sleeve than only that kind of music. This song is a modern off the wall Trap banger with an underground feeling to it. ‘From The Garden’ is a braggadocious banger where Isaiah Rashad and Lil Uzi Vert talk about all of their accomplishments and riches. The frantic energy Uzi brings weirdly meshes so well with Isaiah’s signature style, and it creates an awesome juxtaposition. The next song, ‘RIP Young,’ is a song that has quickly become a fan favorite. This song has an instrumental that is reminiscent of some of the biggest hits from various members of TDE. Specifically, it sounds a lot like a few of the songs Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Kendrick Lamar blew upon. It has this early 2010s West Coast Trap feeling that is so funky and fresh. Isaiah Rashad shows off his rapping skills on this song in a big way; his vocal patterns and flows on this song are so strong and addictive. This is the kind of song that makes everyone feel like a big shot when they hear it. ‘RIP Young’ is such a cocky and amusing song, and it immediately puts most Hip Hop fans in a good mood when they hear it. ‘Lay With Ya,’ featuring Duke Deuce, is another tough and grimey Trap song that isn’t indicative of Isaiah Rashad’s normal style. This track has a Hardcore Trap sound that makes me think of classic Memphis Hip Hop acts Three 6 Mafia or 8Ball and MJG. Isaiah shines on this track, though, bringing a level of intensity that I am not used to seeing from him. Duke Deuce adds to the songs excitement in a big way as always, and he compliments Isaiah Rashad very well. Overall, ‘Lay With Ya’ is a banger that I feel like it’s going to be overlooked in the grand scheme of things since the album is so good as a whole; it is cool, but I don’t think it stands out enough to pull listeners away from the songs that sound more tradition for Isaiah Rashad.

After listening to the song ‘Claymore,’ which features Smino, I have figured out something important about this album. That is the fact that on songs containing features, Isaiah Rashad chose instrumentals that fit the sound of the other artist rather than making them adapt to his sound. I believe this is to prove he can adapt to any kind of Hip Hop. ‘Claymore’ has a Neo-Soul-infused R&B Trap instrumental that sounds similar to some of Smino’s biggest hits. Isaiah’s relaxed and easy-going rapping style fits into this instrumental well. Smino sounds excellent on this track, with his vocal fluctuations and addicting flows truly standing out. Next, we get ‘Headshots(4r Da Locals,’ which is one of the singles released before this record came out which got me excited for it. It is another song with an early 2010s West Coast sound that is reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar. Specifically, this track reminds me of the music from Kendrick’s Section 80 record. On this track, Isaiah is asserting that even though he has all this newfound fame and glory, he is still the same man he was before he got to this point. He will not be caught lacking, and anyone who gets in the way of his success has the potential to be taken out. This song is so smooth and relaxing, and it is honestly a perfect song for a smoke session. Following this is ‘All Herb’ featuring Amindi. It is another cool and laid-back West Coast-style Trap joint that reminds me a lot of the music from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly album. I love the Jazzy R&B instrumental this track has; it brings out Isaiah Rashad’s vocals and makes them pop. Amindi’s feature on this along is also excellent; it goes well with the instrumental and helps to further help show off Isaiah’s voice. The next track, which is called ‘Hey Mista,’ is a short and sweet piece that is less than two minutes and consists of one verse. It has an instrumental with a relaxing melody and Trap beat that will calm anyone down. This track has a “Lullaby Trap” sound that is like a combination of the music made when Metro Boomin and 21 Savage collaborate and the music that the underground rapper Father loves to make. The soft nature of the melody brings out Isaiah’s vocals and flows in a way that makes them seem more gritty and tough. This song may not be for everyone, but the melody does make Isaiah’s vocals pop and bring out a side of him that we haven’t seen much of before.

If I wasn’t rapping, baby, I would still be ridin’ Mercedes. My new whips look so related, my old bitch was overrated. If you pop that pill, remember, n****s fold like huns and fifties. If you on that cup, remember, n****s fold like… – ‘Chad’ featuring YGTUT

‘True Story,’ which features Jay Rock and Jay Worthy, is one of the more upbeat and danceable songs from this record. It has a West Coast R&B Trap sound with a super sweet melody and sort of quick-paced beat that is so easy to get lost and jam out to. ‘True Story’ flows so cleanly and is overall so smooth. Both features stand out in this song; both Jay Rock and Jay Worthy deliver such catchy verses that fit into the sound of the song so well. ‘True Story’ is a bop that shows off a style of music I didn’t know Isaiah Rashad could excel in. The next song, ‘Wat U Sed,’ which features Iamdoechii and Kal Banx, also was an R&B Trap sound with a laid-back feeling to it. This track is not as danceable as the last one is, though; this is another silky smooth song that would be perfect for going for a drive with some friends and a blunt on a summer night. One thing I love about this song is how well Iamdoechii fits into it. Her flow and sound are just as free and easy-going as Isaiah Rashad’s is, and she keeps the energy of the song flowing in such a nice way. Following this, we get ‘Don’t Shoot,’ which is just as calm and relaxed sounding like the two songs that precede it, but in a completely different way. This track has an all-encompassing Jazzy Southern Trap feeling to it that sounds like it is dripping with lean. This is not a sound I am used to hearing or would expect to hear from Isaiah Rashad, but I have to say he truly excels at it. His voice and flow work so perfectly with the atmospheric and dreamy melody of the song. The intensity of the lyricism in this song creates an interesting and cool juxtaposition with its sound. The song ‘Chad,’ which features YGTUT, completely shifts the mood and brings back the energy. This song is a straight-up Trap banger; I appreciate this song’s placement in the album, as it brings a spark back to the album after how relaxed sounding the last few songs were. ‘Chad’ has a creepy underground sound that reminds me a lot of old-school Houston Trap. The fact Isaiah Rashad keeps his calm and collected demeanor and flow on this kind of intense beat makes the song sound even more menacing. In the context of the record, I appreciate ‘Chad’ as a switch-up to give the album a different texture as it progresses.

‘9-3 Freestyle’ is another song with a Southern Trap sound, but it is not intense like the song ‘Chad.’ This track brings us back to the free and easy-going nature and sound that most of the album has had. It is another insanely smooth instrumental that just makes the listener feel good. On this beat, Isaiah Rashad is in his element. He sounds so natural on this instrumental; his voice and flow go perfectly with the instrumental and create a warm and all-encompassing feeling. Remember when I wrote earlier in this piece about how it seemed like Isaiah Rashad tried to adapt to the music styles and tendencies of his features on songs from this record with guest artists? The next song, ‘The Score,’ which features 6lack and SZA, is a great example of this. ‘Score’ has a modern Neo-R&B sound that is very similar to a lot of SZA’s solo music; if I were to hear this instrumental with no vocals and was told to guess what artist sings on it, SZA would probably be my first choice. Isaiah Rashad, 6lack, and SZA all seem like they are truly in their element on this song. Both Isaiah and 6lack adapt to this sound so well, and SZA kills it on this track. If you are a fan of Neo-R&B music, this is a song that you will without a doubt love. The next track, ‘THIB,’ brings us back to a Dirty South Trap sort of feeling. The sound of this song reminds me a bit of old-school heavy Houston Trap; the instrumental for this song has a bit of a classic Houston “chopped and screwed” feeling. I would love to hear Isaiah dive into this kind of music more because he sounds so natural on this song. I love Isaiah’s swagger on ‘THIB,’ as they add an extra element to his delivery and flow. The album closes out with ‘HB2U,’ a beautiful 6-minute outro where Isaiah Rashad reminisces on his life and thinks about all of the good and bad things that have come with the fame and wealth he has garnered since becoming a popular rapper. Over a soft and sweet Jazzy instrumental, Isaiah raps about how not everything about this life is as glamorous as it seems; Isaiah wonders if his life would be better if he had not taken this path, because it has brought more trouble to him than he could imagine. Whether or not it is the life he should have lived, it is the life he is living, so he has to make the most of it. ‘HB2U’ is a great reminder to appreciate what you have because those people who have more money and popularity than you are not necessarily happy anyway.

On The House Is Burning, Isaiah Rashad succeeds at creating the mood and climate he wanted to create. Apart from a few bangers sprinkled in, this record provides an easy-going experience that is so fun and free, and laid-back. I usually try not to use this word in reviews, but it is the word that best describes the feeling of this record; this The House Is Burning creates a relaxed vibe that takes the listeners’ cares away for a while and transports them to an untroubled state of mind. One of my favorite things about this record is Isaiah’s ability to adapt to the sound of his features and prove that he can sound great in any kind of Hip Hop. Isaiah proves he is extremely adaptable on this record. Overall, The House Is Burning is a great Hip Hop record, and it proves that Isaiah Rashad is still one of the top rappers in the game right now.

Favorite Tracks: From The Garden(feat. Lil Uzi Vert), RIP Young, Lay With Ya(Duke Deuce), Claymore(feat. Smino), Headshots(4r Da Locals), Wat U Sed(feat. Iamdoechii and Kal Banx, Don’t Shoot, Chad(feat. YGTUT), Score(feat. SZA and 6lack), HB2U

8.17/10

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