Isaiah Rashid had his sights set on becoming a preacher before his stepbrother’s copy of OutKast’s ATLiens led him into the wild and wicked world of hip hop. A member of the Black Hippy collective, and stable mates with fellow Top Dawg signees, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar, Rashid’s sublime EP, Cilvia Demo, set the wheels in motion for this a much-anticipated full-length debut.
Considering the personal and professional struggles the rapper has since admitted he was facing during its creation, it’s a wonder that he finished The Sun’s Tirade at all – let alone to such a compelling level of quality.
Rashid’s raps are chest-beating at times, self-deprecating at others. The rapper’s struggle with depression* is mentioned on the record in spots, but he does not dwell on it. Instead, he walks the blurry line between conscious lyricism (‘Dressed Like Rappers’) and thug rap (‘A Lot’).
You could argue the that the rapper who gave use the vindicating ‘Ronnie Drake’ hasn’t kept up with the powerful social commentary of label mate, Kendrick Lamar. But then you’d be overlooking his comment on those still struggling to put food on the table (‘Free Lunch’), his reflection on the father that walked out on him when he was young (‘Rope (feat. Sir)’), and his acknowledgement of the need to provide for his own son (‘4r da Squaw’).
Even if you don’t connect with Rashad’s words, the beats here are still worth the price of admission. The Sun’s Triade oozes hazy treehouse trap (‘Brenda’) and wavy melancholy (‘Wat’s Wrong (feat. Zacari & Kendrick Lamar)’) reminiscent of ASAP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt and OutKast. Each of the producers has contributed a slightly different take on the treehouse vibe, but all work wonderfully in the context of the album.
Amid struggles with his personal demons, the Tennessee rapper has come good with The Sun’s Triade. Surprisingly self-aware and unapologetic in its direction, it is an enthralling listen.
* The mental health of black people was a major taking point this year, with rappers Kanye West and Kid Cudi both seeking professional help – not to mention a critical look at the treatment of black people with mental health issues in the UK by the BBC.
The Sun’s Tirade is out now on Top Dawg Entertainment.
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