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‘Even with yet another prosperous year, there’s one TDE artist who fans have been waiting a while to hear: Isaiah Rashad’ ‘the rapper is noticeably absent from the poster for Top Dawg Entertainment’s upcoming The Championship Tour.’ “Fans are left wondering where is Isaiah Rashad?’ After the release and success of his previous album Cilvia Demo, rapper Rashad had disappeared for almost two years leaving his supporters to speculate and curious as to where he had gone. In 2016 he released the slow burning album ‘The Sun’s Tirade’ which goes deeper into Isaiah’s two-year absence and explains his own personal struggles.
‘The Sun’s Tirade’ album cover is a cartoon of Isaiah hopping/hovering over an orange Chevrolet car, with his eyes closed in the midst of his city. The title of the album is the narrative of a prolonged sense of place or as Isaiah puts it, “A long, extended, unnecessarily long…hot (expletive), muggy (expletive) day.
” People have interpreted the fact that he had his eyes closed over a car, almost floating to be a way of showing how Rashad thought of his carelessness which his explains throughout the album. Others have interpreted it as his way of feeling still in taking in his moments alone.
While on the other hand, we have the beloved Amy Winehouse who was best known for her powerful low-pitched vocality and her eccentric mix of music genres. Her last and final album ‘Back to Black’ had a cover with Amy sitting in a stool right in front of a black wall with drawings written in chalk.
Half of the wall is clearly erased, and the bottom half has the letter ‘h’ drawn out several times which seems to be written by a child practicing their alphabet. Winehouse explained that the meaning behind Back to Black is ‘when you go back to what’s comfortable for you.’ She goes on to further on explain how her ex went back to his girlfriend and she went back to drinking, which goes back into that sense what comfort means to each of us. She shows how although the relationship was not normal, she was normalizing it and with that came the comfort and for a moment she felt it held a permanent place in her life and suddenly it is gone.
Although Rashad and Winehouse’s albums were both made at two very different time periods, the artists both shared the same type of music they wanted to release. They don’t like to strictly be confined to or labeled music genres like ‘Jazz’ or ‘R&B’. In their albums they share a diverse range of sounds and are very experimental but collectively remained well integrated as a whole.
During the two years Isaiah was away, he was finding it very hard to focus on music or even just being able to survive because of a xanax and alcohol addiction. He was putting off this album for so long that his label TDE threatened to cut him off. Isaiah’s first track on The Sun’s Tirade started off with the exact voicemail the co-president of TDE left before almost being thrown off the label. Rashad sprinkles interludes throughout his album to really be able to capture the story and context Rashad tries bringing to the album.
Isaiah’s song ‘AA’ talks about his addiction to alcohol and how he would get blacked out drunk to a point he wouldn’t even recall where he had gone for the night. He also references the musical West Side story to compare his past dealing with addiction and his musical career with the love between Tony and Maria in the movie. In the musical, Tony and Maria’s relationship is complicated due to the fact that Tony belongs to one gang while Maria is his rival’s sister. He tries to emphasize and show clear distinction between choosing among the two most important things that he has going for his life.
Amy has a very similar story in ‘Back to Black’ where she struggles with a series of drug addictions which took such a complete tole on her life that she died at 27 because of an ecstasy, alcohol, heroin and crack intoxication. One of her most famous songs ‘Rehab’ is about her depression and her using alcohol and drugs to fill the void after a breakup. She explains how she doesn’t want to drink but her depression drives her into doing so. Amy echoes this in interviews around her album’s debut back in 2006 by saying, “I do drink a lot. I think it’s symptomatic of my depression…I’m manic depressive, I’m not an alcoholic, which sounds like an alcoholic in denial.’ She thought of alcohol as a temporary fix to personal difficulties and she was reluctant to getting treatment for her substance abuse so much that she died for that same exact reason.
Both albums provide different depths of connection but also tap into their dark addictions and how they spiral into these rabbit holes within their lives. They confess their deepest insecurities from the drinks to handful of almonds to temper the intoxication. But, a major difference between the two artists is Rashad’s drug addiction was only a backstory to his album. At the core of the album his focus is money, relationships, and smoking. He choses to be metaphorical with every verse comes a double meaning whereas with Winehouse she’s to the point and it’s clear what comes next. He is also very straight to the point like Amy in his song titles but when it comes the actual content, Isaiah deliberately choses to be careful with his choice of words. His album is meant to be heard more than once to really understand the meaning between each stanza.
In his song ‘4r Da Squaw’ he talks about his financial struggles and how he just wanted enough money to survive at that point of time. The entire song revolves around the line, “If I can pay my bills, I’m good, I’m comin’ over.” But he also raps in ‘A lot’ saying, “I wanna big house, I wanna small one, so I can rent it that out and I can call ya.’ but never making either song feel contradictory. Every song adds a larger narrative on Rashad’s struggles, his past and where he sees himself in the future. He manages this storytelling without sticking to one specific style of rapping by mixing up his cadences and tempos.
While back in Amy’s song ‘Rehab’ her most controversial line ‘I’m gonna lose my baby, so I always keep a bottle near’ which losing her ‘baby’ is a metaphor for her relationship, so she always keeps a bottle near. Meaning she will continuing drinking even if it kills her ‘baby’ (the relationship) or not. Which she tries to make a drastic comparison to losing a child because that’s how strongly she felt it hurt her and by making a more dramatic verse she allows the audience to feel that same way.
Isaiah Rashad and Amy Winehouse both compose and bring all types of music genres to the table and share similar experiences with substance abuse. They tell their stories through their music and
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